“The Customer is Always Right” and Other Startup Myths

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The world of business start-up is full of catch phrases—collections of mantras so enshrined that to question them is heresy. But we should question them. Because while some are harmless, many others paint a false picture of what starting and running a business looks like and sets entrepreneurs up for failure.

There’s no talisman or special mantra in the world that can replace the need for good old fashioned hard-work. That’s how every successful business became successful and it’s how you too will become successful. Don’t be fooled.

In this blog post, we’ll separate fact from fiction by debunking some of the most common business start-up myths.

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“The customer is always right”

This is first on the list because it needs to be the first one to die. As the probably the most well-known (and abused) business mantra, let’s start off by saying NO! The customer is not always right. Sometimes they’re downright wrong. And while the sentiment behind this statement is good (do everything in your power to keep the customer happy), it’s often taken so far as to allow employees to be verbally abused by a customer.

Yes, give excellent customer service. Yes, go above and beyond to serve your clients. Yes, make their experience unforgettable so want to keep coming back…but don’t stand for abuse in any form. You reserve the right to refuse service to anyone. No sale or commission is worth being treated disrespectfully.

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“You’ve got to spend money to make money”

Ok, so this one is true to an extent, but that extent is rarely explained. Yes, starting and running a business costs money but this doesn’t mean you wrack up debt in the process. Set a realistic budget and don’t budge. You don’t need fifty employees on day one. You don’t need a luxurious office space with expensive furniture right away. You may not even need a physical office from day one. Start small and grow as your business (and money) grows.

Another way this saying gets people in trouble is that it makes them so desperate for money that they don’t take the time to calculate how much money they really need to launch their business, update office equipment or any other task. Instead, they shoot for the biggest number and end up in debt they may or may not be able to pay off.

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“Innovation is king”

Everyone wants to be uber original—the first ever this or that. And sometimes it happens…an entrepreneur stumbles across a completely original business idea and changes the world. But that’s rare. Don’t get so caught up in being “innovative” that you overlook viable business opportunities or drive yourself crazy trying to think something into existence.

Take a tried and true idea and make it your own—be innovative on a smaller scale. It’s not always about doing something no one has ever done before. Sometimes it’s doing the same thing everyone else is doing, but better.

Think of how many burger restaurants there are in your hometown alone. Or think about how many successful spas, clothing stores and plumbing companies there…they’re not succeeding because they struck upon an original idea. They’re successful because they’ve man an unoriginal idea, original by adding their unique touch to it.

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“You need a massive reach on social media”

This one isn’t all wrong…social media is the #1 marketing tool at a startup’s disposal. But this flimsy saying often leads new business owners to spend more time trying to amass followers, then fine-tuning their product or service. Focus on your product/service and then extend that attention to customers who are genuinely interested.

Be patient, nurture the few followers you have right now and then expand your reach. You don’t want to end up in a position where your product/service doesn’t live up to the hype.

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That’s all

There are many more myths floating around out there. The trick to avoiding them is not to make a list of every single one and memorize them. No. The trick to avoiding falling prey to these mantras is to first understand that turning a new business into a successful business takes patience, grit and determination.

The second is to be a student. Find a mentor, a business podcast, or article/book written by a successful business owner who knows what it takes to succeed and follow their lead. Entrepreneurs weren’t made to be islands. They were made to learn and grow in community.

Understanding what it takes to succeed is the first step to succeeding. So, keep on moving!

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