The Top 5 Most Dangerous Statements When Starting a Small Business

December 1st, 2010 by | Print


One of the services that I offer to solopreneurs is reviewing business plans. Sometimes, I will get involved prior to writing the plan to help solopreneurs define their business idea so they have a stronger focus for moving forward. During the consultation and in reviewing the business plans, I have come across some common statements that raise multiple big, red flags.

Following is a list of the top 5 most dangerous statements that I hear solopreneurs make when describing their business … and they say these statements like they are a good thing. While there are always exceptions to the rule, if you find you are using any of these statements, stop … don’t consider yourself the exception.

1. “I don’t want to tell anyone what my idea is because I’m afraid someone is going to steal my idea.”
Translation: I don’t have any barriers-to-entry. I don’t understand what it takes to start a business.

Consider this: Not everyone solely jumps into starting a business simply because it has the possibility of making money. Typically, successful solopreneurs gravitate towards a business idea that leverages their strengths, experience and passion with the likelihood that it will allow them to achieve their personal, professional and financial goals. Let’s not forget the time and the money involved, too. Chances are your idea doesn’t fit into their plans.

Plus, if a business idea is so easy to rip off that anyone can do it, it lacks any barriers-to-entry and you will be unable to protect it from the competition. Successful solopreneurs won’t take that risk.

2. “There isn’t any competition. No one else offers a product / service like this.”
Translation: I haven’t done any market research.

Consider this: If there isn’t any competition (that you know of), you likely haven’t done your research, you haven’t considered indirect competitors, or that market doesn’t want what you plan to provide.

While it is possible (but highly unlikely) that you are first to market with a revolutionary solution that the market will line up for, don’t bank on it without serious research, knowledge and testing. Having competition is a good thing. You want to sell what people are already buying. Trying to convince customers to change their buying habits is a difficult task … especially if it requires a significant amount of education on their part before they understand why your offering is superior to what they are already using.

3. “It will sell itself.”
Translation: I don’t want to do marketing. I don’t want to sell. I don’t know how to do marketing. I don’t know how to do selling successfully. I’m lazy.

Consider this: Nothing sells itself! When was the last time you bought a product or a service from a company that didn’t have any experience in the marketplace, any testimonials, or any marketing? In some way, you or someone else (a sales person, joint venture partners, customer via word of mouth, etc…) is doing the selling.

4. “I plan to sell to anyone that uses {insert the name of your product / service}.”
Translation: I don’t understand the term “target market”. I don’t understand marketing. I don’t understand sales.

Consider this: Have you heard the expression that goes something like, “If you try to make everyone happy, no one is happy”? This holds true in business. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I used to own a fine dining restaurant. Everyone eats, right? So should I have tried to sell to everyone? Of course not. Not everyone eats at fine dining establishments. You shouldn’t use the same language or extol the same benefits of a restaurant to the eaters that want a $1.00 cheeseburger as you would to the diners that are craving fois gras.

To be effective at marketing and selling, you need to speak the language that your target market speaks and deliver a solution that best resolves their problem. You can’t be all things to all people and expect to thrive.

5. “I’ll figure it out as I go along.”
Translation: I don’t know what I’m doing. I don’t know how to create (or understand the importance of creating) a plan with goals, objectives, strategies and tactics. I like taking big risks with my time and money. I’m lazy.

Consider this: Don’t ever start a business without some vision, research and planning. While I do agree that some of the best research you can perform is engaging your target market (on a limited scale), the extent of your pre-launch research and planning should depend upon the complexity of your business idea, the source and amount of funding it requires to support it until it can support itself, and the severity of the damage you will personally experience if the business fails.

If you find that you use any of the top 5 statements listed above when describing your solopreneur startup, you need to stop and seriously review your vision, your research, and your planning. Better yet, give your plan (if you have one) or a description of your idea over to some experienced solopreneurs that you trust. Put your ego aside. Get their opinion. Take the constructive criticism. It is a gift.

All the Best,

Doug Dolan
The Solopreneur’s Guide


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