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8 Myths About Starting An Online Business

8 Myths About Starting An Online Business

You’ve come up with an awesome new product idea. Of course, it happened in the shower and you scrambled to jot it down. After rambling about the details to your friends and family, you’ve finally mustered up the courage to build a prototype.

Once again, your family and friends give you the thumbs up, but you’re still far from launching an online business. Everything about it sounds intimidating. You’ve watched far too many episodes of Shark Tank to the point that you’re scared about financing, building a website, and keeping up with marketing.

It seems strange to think about it at such an early stage, but saving money for your online business is often priority number one. Why is this the case? Because chances are you don’t have that much start-up capital and most successful businesses pinch pennies in the early stages regardless.

This gets you thinking about some of the statements you’ve heard about managing your costs, some of them coming from Shark Tank, but most of them coming from naysayer friends or people you’ve met at social events.

Here’s a tip: Forget about all of those statements, because chances are they’re myths. Your business plan is better without them, but it’s also important to realize which of them are myths in order to decide on which you should brush aside.

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You’re in luck, because we’ve compiled some of the more misleading myths about the costs of starting an online business. Go and grab your pen (or bookmark this page,) because you may find some surprising insights.

Myth 1: You Can Start an Online Business for Free (Or A Small Amount of Money)

You’ve all seen the ads that tell you about certain online website building platforms that provide free services (or close to free) online shop creators. In addition, there’s always that self-employed friend that’s telling you how inexpensive it is to get started online.

Although the ideal online store building solutions are fairly inexpensive, you can’t possibly expect to spend less than at least $500 per year on just your website. After all, this is your storefront. It’s the primary way you’re going to make money, and if you plan on expanding that business, it’s going to require investments.

The free (or close to free) online business is a marketing ploy to prompt you into buying. That doesn’t mean you have to spend $10,000 your first year developing a site, but it’s prudent to budget for more, rather than nothing.

Myth 2: You Can Only Start an Online Business With Lots of Startup Capital

On the opposite side of the spectrum, the days of spending ten or twenty thousand dollars on a web developer or marketing person are over.

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Yes, development is often the most expensive part of building a new website, but tools like Shopify, Bigcommerce, and even WIX provide you ready-made tools for launching your site and expanding it to a powerhouse. You don’t need a huge donation from your dad, so leave him alone already.

Myth 3: Many People Who Work Online Work Part-Time Hours but Make Full-Time Wages

Sure, you could go with a low cost business idea, like arts and crafts or selling your freelance services, but people who partake in these endeavors still put in the work to bring in clients and run their businesses just like anyone else.

In fact, one could argue that the traditional 40 hour job is impossible while running an online business, since you’re more likely to spend 80 hours per week nurturing your own company.

Myth 4: Social Media is a Costless Marketing and Money Making Outlet

Anyone who has made significant conversions through Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest can explain that social media marketing is far from free. Not only do effective advertisements cost money, but your strategy also requires loads of time and effort. In addition, you may end up hiring a social media person to manage the whole ordeal.

Myth 5: You Can Automate Everything When Selling Online to Cut Down on Labor Costs

Young business owners are prone to look for solutions that can completely automate their selling process. This ties into the fact that so many people crave the 4-hour workweek, but it also coincides with the numerous different apps and tools that have come out to automate processes.

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Let’s break it down.

You can’t completely automate your customer support. You can’t completely automate your social media. You can’t completely automate your receipts and promotions and returns. Labor costs are required, because people run businesses. It’s essential to keep this in mind for your budget.

Myth 6: A Large Promotional and Advertising Budget is the Key to Success

Mark Cuban repeatedly talks about how pouring money into a promotional budget is the last thing you want to focus on with a young company. This comes as a surprise, but you probably can’t even get an investment or SBA grant unless you can already prove that your business functions without the need for a huge marketing budget.

Myth 7: Processing Payments is Going to Break the Bank

Although it may be true that payment processing fees are going to pile up, putting in quality research to locate the most cost efficient solution can cut those processing costs and keep your company afloat for quite some time.

In fact, it’s imperative to locate the right payment gateway company for your brand, because 1% or 2% extra on each transaction can add up quickly.

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Myth 8: All Tasks Must be Completed by You or You Must Hire Someone Full-Time to Do Them

Online business owners frequently feel like every task must be completed in-house, whether it’s with their own sweat and blood or by hiring a full-time partner who can assist them with tasks such as web development, graphic design, social media, and email marketing.

Nothing is further from the truth, because nowadays freelancers are your friends. Hundreds of sites provide gathering spots for graphic designers, writers, social media workers, and even data entry freelancers – all of whom are poised to work for you for reasonable rates. There’s no reason to hire a graphic designer and put them on your payroll when you can turn to a trusty freelancer on an as-needed basis.

Over to You…

The various myths about small businesses frequently change, so continue doing your research to ensure that you don’t fall behind the times. Think about it. Some of the myths outlined above may very well have been true a while back; however, times change. Flexibility and awareness are key components in your entrepreneurship arsenal.

Can you think of any other cost myths that hold back online businesses?

Featured photo credit: Computer/Wild Zontar via flickr.com

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Melissa Burns

Entrepreneur

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Published on March 25, 2019

How to Find New Growth Opportunities at Work

How to Find New Growth Opportunities at Work

Career advancement is an enticement that today’s companies use to lure job candidates. But to truly uncover growth opportunities within a company, it’s up to you to take the initiative to move up. You can’t rely on recruiter promises that your company will largely hire from within. Even assurances you heard from your direct supervisor during the interviewing process may not pan out.

But if you begin a job knowing that you’re ultimately responsible for getting yourself noticed, you will be starting one step ahead.

Accomplished entrepreneur and LinkedIn Co-Founder Reid Hoffman said,

“If you’re not moving forward, you’re moving backward.”

It’s important to recognize that taking charge of your own career advancement, and then mapping out the steps you need to succeed, is key to moving forward on your trajectory.

Make a Point of Positioning Yourself as a Rising Star

As an employee looking for growth opportunities within your current company, you have many avenues to position yourself as a rising star.

As an insider, you’re able to glean insights on company strategies and apply your expertise where it’s most needed. Scout out any skills gaps, then make a point to acquire and apply them. And, when you have creative ideas to offer, make it your mission to gain the ear of those in the organization who can put your ideas to the test.

Valiant shows of commitment and enterprise make managers perk up and take notice, keeping you ahead of both internal and external competitors.

Employ these other useful tips to let your rising star qualities shine:

1. Promote Your Successes to Your Higher-Ups

When your boss casually asks how you’re doing, use this valuable moment to position yourself as indispensable: “I’m floating on clouds because three clients have already commented on how well they like my redesign of the company website.”

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Tell your supervisors about any and all successes. Securing a new contract or signing a new customer should be a cause for celebration. Be sure to let your bosses know.

2. Cultivate Excellent Listening Skills

Listen well, and ask great questions. Realize that people love to talk about themselves.

But if you’re a superb listener, others will confide in you, and you’ll learn from what they share. You may even find out something valuable about your own prospects in the company.

If others view you as even-minded and thoughtful, they’ll respect your ideas and, in turn, listen to what you have to say.

3. Go to All Office Networking Events

Never skip the office Christmas party, your coworker’s retirement party, or any office birthday parties, wedding showers, or congratulatory parties for colleagues.

If others see you as a team player, it will help you rise in your company. These on-site parties will also help you mingle with co-workers whom you might not ordinarily have the chance to see. For special points, help organize one or two of these get-togethers.

Take the Extra Step to Show Your Value to the Company

Managers and HR staff know that it can be less risky – and a lot less costly — to promote from within. As internal staff, you likely have a good grasp of the authority structure and talent pool in the company, and know how to best navigate these networks in achieving both the company’s goals and your own.

The late Nobel-Prize winning economist, Gary Becker, coined the term “firm-specific,” which describes the unique skills required to excel in an individual organization. You, as a current employee, have likely tapped into these specific skills, while external hires may take a year or more to master their nuances.

Know that your experience within the company already provides value, then find ways to add even more value, using these tips:

4. Show Initiative

Commit yourself to whatever task you’re given, and make a point of going above and beyond.

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Position yourself so that you’re ready to take on any growth opportunities that present themselves. If you believe you have skills that have gone untapped, find a manager who will give you a chance to prove your worth.

Accept any stretch assignment that showcases your readiness for advancement. Stay late, and arrive early. Half of getting the best assignments is sticking around long enough to receive them.

5. Set Yourself Apart by Staying up on Everything There Is to Know About Your Company and Its Competitors

Subscribe to and read the online trade journals. Become an active member in your industry’s network of professionals. Go to industry conferences, and learn your competitors’ strategies.

Be the on-the-ground eyes and ears for your organization to stay on top of industry trends.

6. Go to Every Company Meeting Prepared and Ready to Learn

A lot of workers feel meetings are an utter waste of time. They’re not, though, because they provide face-time with higher-ups and those in a position to give you the growth opportunities you need.

Go with the intention of absorbing information and using it to your advantage — including the goals and work styles of your superiors. Respect the agenda, listen more than you speak, and never beleaguer a point.

Accelerate Your Career Growth Opportunities

A recent study found that the five predictors of employees with executive potential were: the right motivation, curiosity, insight, engagement, and determination. These qualities help you stand out, but it’s also important to establish a track record of success and to not appear to be over-reaching in your drive to move up in your company.

Try to see yourself from your boss’s position and evaluate your promote-ability.

Do you display a passion and commitment toward meeting the collective goals of the company? Do you have a motivating influence with team members and show insight and excellence in all your work?

These qualities will place you front and center when growth opportunities arise.

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Use these strategic tips to escalate your opportunities for growth:

7. Find a Mentor

With mentorship programs fast disappearing, this isn’t always easy. But you need to look for someone in the company who has been promoted several times and who also cares about your progress.

Maybe it’s the person who recommended you for the job. Or maybe it’s your direct supervisor. It could even be someone across the hall or in a completely different department.

Talk to her or him about growth opportunities within your company. Maybe she or he can recommend you for a promotion.

8. Map out Your Own Growth Opportunity Chart

After you’ve worked at the company for a few months, work out a realistic growth chart for your own development. This should be a reasonable, practical chart — not a pie-in-the-sky wish list of demands.

What’s reasonable? Do you think being promoted within two years is reasonable? What about raises? Try to inform your own growth chart with what you’ve heard about other workers’ raises and promotions.

Once you’ve rigorously charted a realistic path for your personal development within the company, try to talk to your mentor about it.

Keep refining your chart until it seems to work with your skills and proven talents. Then, arrange a time to discuss it with your boss.

You may want to time the discussion around the time of your performance review. Then your boss can weigh in with what he feels is reasonable, too.

9. Set Your Professional Bar High

Research shows that more than two-thirds of workers are just putting in their time. But through your active engagement in the organization and commitment to giving your best, you can provide the contrast against others giving lackluster performances.

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Cultivate the hard skills that keep you on the cutting edge of your profession, while also refining your soft skills. These are the attributes that make you better at embracing diverse perspectives, engendering trust, and harnessing the power of synergy.

Even if you have an unquestionably left-brain career — a financial analyst or biotechnical engineer, for example — you’re always better off when you can form kind, courteous, quality relationships with colleagues.

Let integrity be the cornerstone of all your interactions with clients and co-workers.

The Bottom Line

Growth opportunities are available for those willing to purposely and adeptly manage their own professional growth. As the old adage says,

“Half of life is showing up.”

The other half is sticking around so that when your boss is looking for someone to take on a more significant role, you are among the first who come to mind.

Remember, your career is your business!

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Featured photo credit: Zach Lucero via unsplash.com

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