You have been planning to convert a business idea into a thriving start-up for a while. You have organized your finances and quit your job to pursue entrepreneurship.
However, most business owners struggle to differentiate between expectation and reality. It is good to be optimistic, but it is also important to be realistic; otherwise, you could be building your business on shaky ground.
It is time for a reality check! What are business expectations, and how can you avoid going beyond reality? This article lays bare common entrepreneur expectations and the accompanying reality.
Let’s begin by defining business expectations.
If you are starting out, I encourage you to read this article, where I discuss the 8 Long-Term Growth Metrics Every Start-up Should Track.
What Are The Entrepreneur’s Expectations?
These are a business owner’s ideals of how they want the start-up to turn out. Most entrepreneurs start their businesses expecting steady growth of their ventures and quick realization of return on investments.
Entrepreneurs hope to hire hardworking and cooperative employees to help them realize their goals. Although they plan for setbacks, all businesspersons expect success.
Unfortunately, most of these desires are not backed by facts. Things can get messy with start-ups if you are not well prepared.
Start-up: Expectations Vs. Reality
Now, let’s discuss some wrong assumptions most small business owners make when launching their start-ups and score them against reality.
1- Entrepreneur’s Expectation: A Great Business Idea Will Attract Investments And Generate Revenue Fast
Many entrepreneurs with unique business ideas believe that the uniqueness of their idea will make them stand out and attract investment without lifting a finger.
It can’t be that hard to lure investors to your corner with a brilliant business idea-they reason. Many entrepreneurs also expect consumers to love their products and services with limited marketing. After all, the business is unlike any other in the market.
Reality: Having a unique business idea and writing a stellar business plan is the beginning of wooing investors to support your start-up.
An investor may pass on a brilliant business idea that addresses the market gap if they think you have an untidy corporate structure, the business is too risky, or you don’t have legal requirements.
Investors are interested in more than an idea that fulfills market gaps. They want to see a proper organizational structure.
Instead of banking on angel or venture investors, you could look for practical ways to finance your start-up.
Consumers will not jump for a new product without enticement. You will probably need to carry out marketing campaigns and free giveaways to introduce your product to the market.
These things are not cheap! You should be prepared to spend money to grow your business.
2- Entrepreneur’s Expectations: I Will Do Everything By Myself Until The Business Grows
Some start-up owners try to handle everything by themselves to reduce expenses. They expect to handle the initial process of the business by themselves until the business becomes profitable before they can hire staff.
While minimizing capital investment costs is noble, running a start-up alone can be counterproductive.
Reality: Operating a start-up by yourself can lead to burnout. There is a limit to what you can do when launching a business.
Furthermore, growing a start-up requires several skills you may not possess. For example, you may not be a marketing guru, so handling the marketing functions of your business can lead to business failure.
Setting money aside to hire professionals like lawyers, marketers, assistants, etc., is essential to help you get the business off the ground. You can’t handle all business functions by yourself.
Fortunately, technology can also help you ease the work. For instance, you can use apps like Hootsuite and Buffer to manage your social media marketing. You can also use Calendy and Notion to increase your business productivity.
Do so when your business picks up, and you can afford to hire more staff. You can recruit people directly or hire ex-pat freelancers to handle your everyday tasks.
3- Entrepreneur’s Expectations: I Will Have a Perfect Work-Life Balance
Having a work-life balance that offers you free time to travel the world is everyone’s dream.
Some people quit their jobs and venture into business to attain this balance. Most beginners expect that their businesses will leave them lots of free time to enjoy life and pursue hobbies.
That may be possible if you have an established company. However, things are different in start-up life.
Reality: When you launch a new small business, you should have realistic expectations as a start-up. In infancy, the business is like a little child that needs your undivided attention.
Entrepreneurs may work long hours than an employee to realize their dream. The lucrative freedom is only available to those who have built successful businesses. But before that, growing a start-up is hard work. It is sometimes accompanied by sleepless nights, tears, and fear of failure.
You will work most days of the week to pass the business hurdles in the initial stages.
I am not saying you ignore other aspects of life that make you whole. You need time for relaxation to regain strength but know that business success rests squarely on your shoulder.
Therefore, time management is one of the qualities of an entrepreneur you should cultivate. You can employ free tools like Google Calendar to effectively manage your schedule.
4- Expectation: Everything Will Fall Into Place Once I Start
Some entrepreneurs expect that once they start, all shall be well as things align for the business’s prosperity. They imagine that they will make profits in no time after investing some money into the business.
Is this business expectation realistic?
Reality: Successful entrepreneurs are habitual risk-takers willing to bite the bullet. Before you give up your stable job and struggle with your start-up to success, read about 9 things, you must do to succeed as an entrepreneur.
You need a realistic plan and knowledge to succeed in growing your business. Ensure you have a strategy to guide you in developing your brand, marketing your product, and growing your company.
You should also have a plan for what you will do if you decide to sell the business. Without a proper plan, you may not track your progress.
So rather than wish for everything to fall in place, why not have an executable plan to guide your business development?
5- Expectations: Unique Viral Video Or Facebook ad Equals Quick Profits
Some small business owners believe they will improve their sales and profits faster if they produce unique products and create viral videos or ads.
They expect everyone to recognize, talk about, and promote their unique products, thus reducing the marketing budget.
You may invest in creating videos, hoping they will go viral and translate to sales.
Reality: Small business owners waste time and resources creating social media videos that do not convert. While viral videos can make your company trend on Twitter and TikTok, they do not guarantee sales.
Furthermore, creating a viral video without investing a huge amount of money is not easy. Your target customers will not automatically warm up to your products by only seeing some videos online. It takes more than virality or expensive ads to penetrate the market.
Instead of wasting money on virality, why not invest in branding? This begins with selecting a good company name. Strong branding can help you increase your brand equity and build brand awareness.
Although some start-up owners think that their brand identity will take shape over time, branding is something you want to take care of at the onset. You want to be proactive so that your identity is not confusing.
In reality, you need to invest in what people see in your business, such as your company logo, name, marketing materials, business cards, and social media presence.
6- Expectation: My Business Will Succeed Immediately
Many entrepreneurs love their business idea, products, and services. They believe they can easily transmit their enthusiasm to customers, thus experiencing instant success.
Reality: While it is important to be enthusiastic about your product and what it can achieve, it is also good to be realistic.
Are your products and service of high quality? How do they differ from your closest competitor’s products?
Your realistic expectations as a start-up are to experiment to see areas of improvement. Experimentation will also help you know which products fit the market.
Study your target audience to find out their purchasing decisions. The market study can also help you know which consumer pain points your product and services address.
Building and growing a start-up is not a few weeks’ affairs. It involves lots of sacrifices, especially in the first few years.
While it is easy to live with false expectations, reality determines your success. This should not scare you or drive you into pessimism; reality helps you prepare to handle any challenges you will meet.
What common entrepreneur expectation has I missed in this list? Write your thought below.
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