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Starting a business in New York may not be as difficult as you imagine. Many commonly believed misconceptions scare people away from creating the small businesses of their dreams. Other popular myths steer people in the wrong direction if they do get their businesses going.
New York is a great place to start a business if you want to be where the action is. The economic output of the state is almost as large as that produced by all of Canada. And it's not only huge corporations that drive New York's economy. There are more than 2 million small businesses in the state, accounting for 99.8% of all New York businesses, so you'll feel right at home.
Do any of these seven common misconceptions sound familiar? Read on to see why they’re not true, and you’ll be on your way to turning your business dreams into reality.
Misconception #1: You don’t need a business plan
Creating a business plan will get your New York business off to a great start. Some people think it’s more exciting and creative to fly by the seat of their pants, but you could end up wasting a lot of time and money that way.
There is good news for people who dislike planning. You don’t need a detailed plan at the outset. Your plan should be in writing, but it doesn’t have to be overly complicated or long. You just need to cover the crucial points that will help guide you through your business’ early stages:
- Your business goals
- Your target market
- The marketing and sales strategies you will use to reach your goals
- Financial projections
Your plan will give you a big-picture overview of what your business is about and where it is heading. It’s like having a map for an unfamiliar territory. When you follow your plan, you’ll know where to go, and you won’t get lost.
A business plan can also help you get funding because it’s something you can show to potential investors to demonstrate that you know how to make your business a success.
Misconception #2: Forming an official company is too complicated and expensive
Forming an official company in New York may be a lot easier than you think. You have a choice of different types of business structures, and some are much simpler and more economical to set up and run than others.
Many people who want to start a solo or small business choose to form it as a Limited Liability Company (LLC). This is a popular choice because it is inexpensive, requires far fewer formalities than a corporation, and can be set up in as little as five minutes if you use an LLC formation service.
Launching your business as an LLC has several advantages:
- It can protect your personal assets from claims against your business.
- It makes your business appear more prestigious and stable, which can attract customers and make it easier to work with vendors and suppliers.
- The costs to set up your LLC are often tax-deductible.
- Taxes are simple, and you avoid the double taxation of corporations.
If you have a sole proprietorship, or if you are starting a new business from scratch, you owe it to yourself to check out the advantages and low costs of forming a New York LLC.
Misconception #3. You can’t start a business because you only have your own funding
It may not cost as much to launch and run your New York business as you expect. It’s important to learn about how to run your business before you start considering getting loans. You won’t want to be in debt if the business takes a while to get off the ground.
Think through what your essential expenses will be. Do you really need high-end furniture or an office in an expensive building? Think about all the now legendary businesses that started in their owner’s garage or on their kitchen table.
Instead of hiring an expensive advertising agency, you can do your own marketing. Chat with your customers and find out what they like most about your product or service and what they would prefer to see done differently.
You'll get valuable information on how to improve your offerings and fine-tune them for your target market. Customers will also appreciate being consulted and may tell their friends about your business.
There's lots of help available in New York for small business owners. New York State government agencies have various grant programs specifically for small businesses. It's worth checking them out to see if you qualify. If you live in Manhattan, the Bronx, or Staten Island, and your business is also located in one of those boroughs, you could win money in the New York StartUP! Business Plan Competition.
You may have big dreams, but it’s good to keep things simple at first. Take small steps and test things out. That makes it easy to learn as you go and tweak your processes without taking on unnecessary risk.
Misconception #4: There’s no room for error
You’re human and will make mistakes. That’s an unavoidable fact of life and of business. Since mistakes are going to happen no matter what, a good mindset hack is to try to look at mistakes as learning opportunities.
There really is a lot that your mistakes can teach you. If you can see what went wrong and how you could do better next time, you’ll become more adaptable to changing conditions. That’s a key element of business success.
Beware of thinking that you have more control over events than you do. If you are shifting from being an employee to becoming a small-business owner, you may feel the added responsibility keenly. That doesn’t mean that everything you do will be perfect.
In addition to your human limitations, and your being on the learning curve for running your business, there are always unexpected events that throw a monkey wrench into your carefully laid-out plans.
Cut yourself some slack, and realize that it will take some time to gain proficiency in the various aspects involved in running a business. Instead of being embarrassed by your mistakes, appreciate the excitement of being involved in a new project and having the opportunity to learn new skills and enjoy new experiences
Misconception #5: You'll have to choose between a personal life and work
If you’re someone who values your personal life, you’re likely to avoid starting a business if you believe that you will have to be working constantly and sacrifice all your time with family, friends, and favorite pursuits. We’ve all heard the stories about the entrepreneurs who hardly sleep, barely take time to eat, and spend every waking hour at work.
You don’t have to be like them. The business you are starting is your business, and you can run it the way you want. Yes, you have responsibilities, but you get to set the overall pace. You can be like the speedy hare and get burnt out, or you can be the steady, patient tortoise who wins the race. Or you can be something in between. The important thing is that it is up to you to aim for the work/life balance you truly desire.
You will be busy. But you will be more effective at work if you learn to set boundaries and if you take breaks when you need them. It’s often counterproductive to push yourself too hard. Find the right balance, and you will enjoy both success in your business and satisfaction with your life overall.
Misconception #6: You can't start a business while working full-time
It’s a myth that you can’t launch a business while you have a full-time job. The truth is that many people have started businesses in New York while they were still employed. Having a steady income reduces the risk and takes a lot of stress out of the process of getting a new business off the ground.
You can ramp up your new business slowly. As your customer base grows and you become more confident that your business will succeed, you can make the transition to becoming a full-time entrepreneur. Or you can take an intermediate step and go from a full-time job to a part-time job before taking the plunge completely.
Misconception #7: You have to hire employees immediately
Many businesses start out as solo ventures. They may remain that way for a long time. Some people enjoy the independence of running a one-person show and choose to remain solopreneurs permanently.
It can be a mistake to hire employees right away. The expense can be a strain on your new business or saddle you with debt. Besides, when you do the work yourself, you’ll learn first-hand about all the functions and roles that your business requires.
When you need help, you can hire contractors and freelancers for just the length of time you need them, without the legal requirements involved in hiring employees.
Don’t let common misconceptions about starting a New York business stop you from doing what you know you want to do. By seeing through the myths, you can banish needless fears and start your new venture firmly based in reality. Don’t let the opportunity pass you by!
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