Embarking on an entrepreneurial journey takes tremendous amounts of courage. For first-time founders, the mere thought of failure could send shivers down your spine.
As a student entrepreneur some years ago (now a full-time startupper at ReUbird and NoteSity), I was once daunted by myths about starting a business. Years went by, proving many of these myths untrue – which is why I am writing this article to debunk them for you.
Myth 1: Someone else is already working on my idea
There are no unique startup ideas. Only unique founders.
Facebook is not the first social network; Signal is not the first messenger app; Lyft is not the first ridesharing solution. For ReUbird, we were not the first platform offering catering service and venue rental service in Hong Kong.
Startups don’t “win” because they have the best ideas. Being a first mover might give you an edge at the early stage. In the long run, however, most successful startups “win” because they are able to build a product that solves their customers’ problems – being better, faster and cheaper than any other product in the market. Strategy, execution and persistence are far more important than the startup idea itself.
It’s totally fine that others are working on the same thing. In fact, having competition means you are likely to be in lucrative space which appeals to other entrepreneurs. After all, why bother spending time and effort on an idea that isn’t going to work? If nobody is working on your idea, there’s a good chance it’s a bad one.
Myth 2: You need to know how to code
This was exactly what I thought when I first learned about the idea of startup in college.
But I was wrong. The chances are you can work with people who have solid experience in programming and are highly skilful at it. I met my startup partner, a talented software engineer, in a common core class at HKU. With him, I have absolutely nothing to worry about our company’s software development.
Even if your team doesn’t have anyone with a tech background, you could outsource the process of building your first minimum viable product. Either way, coding knowledge is not essential to bringing your idea to life.
Each of us has our own talent. If one is truly passionate about solving a particular problem in the world, he will always find a way to equip himself with the skills necessary to accomplish his goals.
If coding is not your strength, so be it. From people management to marketing and operations, there must be a spot in the company where your skills come in handy.
Myth 3: You need huge amounts of capital or funding to get started
Many entrepreneur wannabes are under the impression that they need substantial sums of capital or funding to kick start a venture.
While this might be true for capital-intensive industries such as automobile, quite a number of now famous startups started small and built their MVP without financial support of any kind.
Speaking of capital and funding, there are numerous avenues nowadays for you to secure a decent amount of money to build your MVP.
Myth 4: You don’t have requisite skills and experience to succeed
Imposter syndrome is a demon. At least it was to me.
“Why me? Why am I capable of running a business when I haven’t done it before?” The feeling of inadequacy and self-doubt kept looming over me when I first co-founded a company in my penultimate year of college.
Looking back, I see things differently: There’s a first time for everything. There’s no such thing as enough. If you don’t take the first step, you will never get anywhere. But once you get the ball rolling, you will learn along the way.
The entrepreneurial path is a rocky one. You might stumble and fall. Yet, with each mistake you make and failure you encounter, you learn and grow to be a better and more experienced entrepreneur.
Brian is a serial entrepreneur in Hong Kong. Apart from ReUbird and NoteSity, he also co-founded RakoSell (a F&B software) and Chefogo (a catering company). He’s passionate about sharing his learning in entrepreneurship to help students across the globe become entrepreneurs as well.