According to the Google dictionary, a myth is a widely held but false belief or idea. In my view, myths persist because there is an element of truth in them; they aren’t entirely false.
When it comes to business, there are myths that continue to be accepted as truth. But are they?
1) Myth: You need a written business plan to start a business.
Reality: You certainly need a plan, but you don’t necessarily need a formal written plan. According to business plan expert Tim Berry, the plan doesn’t necessarily have to be long or contain extensive market research. You don’t even have to put it in writing unless you’re seeking investors who want to see it. Still, every business needs some plan to set goals and against which to measure progress. And the need for planning doesn’t disappear once you’re underway; businesses continually need to plan and assess their activities. So just setting goals and keeping them on your computer may be sufficient.
2) Myth: The customer is always right.
Reality: Not necessarily. The slogan coined in 1909 by Harry Gordon Selfridge, the founder of London’s Selfridge’s Department Store, has become the gospel of retail, but there are situations in which it should not be followed. There are some customers that are abusive to staff, always complain and can’t be satisfied, and are incorrect in their complaints. While civility from employees is always needed to handle even the most cantankerous customers, it doesn’t mean giving in to their demands.
3) Myth: A messy desk is a problem.
Reality: Research last year at the University of Minnesota tested the effects of a messy desk on the generation of ideas. They found that participants came up with the same number of ideas whether their desks were messy or neat. So the condition of a desk isn’t necessarily critical. I’ve found that a mess can cause delay in finding things so I prefer an organized desk.
4) Myth: Being your own boss gives you freedom.
Reality: Perhaps you gain some flexibility in your life, but freedom? No. As I explained in an earlier blog, small business owners make sacrifices. On the whole, they put in long hours, seldom take vacations, and often miss family or social occasions in order to work. I don’t call this freedom.
5) Myth: Do what you love and you’ll succeed.
Reality: You’ll only succeed if the marketplace also loves what you love. In other words, having passion for your product/service offering is important to keep you engaged in your business. But there has to be a demand from customers/clients; you can’t be blind to this basic fact. And, even assuming demand, you have to run your business smartly. This means managing employees, monitoring cash flow, and “minding the store.”