Six big myths of entrepreneurship
Entrepreneurship is about challenging the status quo and questioning conventional wisdom in search of new and better ways of doing things.
Today, however, there’s a pervasive and nearly deafening mantra spreading that each of us should quit our jobs and become entrepreneurs.
The social collective says that every day you wait to go into business brings you closer to a life of poverty and regret.
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But in the words of Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz: “The entrepreneurial journey is not for everyone. Yes, the highs are high and the rewards can be thrilling. But the lows can break your heart.
“Entrepreneurs must love what they do to such a degree that doing it is worth sacrifice and, at times, pain. But doing anything else, we think, would be unimaginable.”
Here are some of the myths peddled around about the reality of running your own business.
- “It’s my hobby, so why not make it my business?”
Following your passion or a cause without paying any attention to market realities is a myth born of oversimplification. Unfortunately, the hustle is not about just working on the things you like.
Some people discover what they love to do, make a living off it and find fulfilment.
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Others do what they’re good at and achieve financial success, and that frees them to pursue their passions.
What you don’t want to do is pursue a passion or a cause with no market, go broke and wind up having to do work you don’t enjoy.
The fact that you love your business and what you do is a big deal. However, it’s not everything.
- “This is a great business idea! I’ll definitely be successful.”
The dream is free, the hustle is sold separately.
Another of the myths about entrepreneurship is that a good idea is all you need. Unfortunately, that’s not true. It’ll take concerted effort to build a start-up that lasts.
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You’ll need a business plan, a way to get the word out. Ideas are cheap, execution is everything. When an entrepreneur wants you to sign a non-disclosure agreement before they’ll talk about their idea with you, it’s usually a sign that they know they can’t out-execute their competition.
You may have a great idea to help launch your company, but the only way to make it successful is to take action.
- “I hate having a boss.”
Don’t start a business just for a power trip.
Of all the myths on entrepreneurship, this is one of the most seductive. How would it feel to be your own boss? Pretty great, right?
The reality is that a start-up will take over your life. You’ll be working more hours than you ever did at your job. You’ll be on call at all hours.
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Elon Musk, Tesla’s founder, just admitted to working 120-hour weeks – that’s an average of 17 hours a day.
Your customers, suppliers, creditors, partners and a lot of other people will become your new ‘bosses’. These people may be harder to please than your boss at the office today.
Once you get things going, you may find a way to give yourself more ‘me-time’, but in the beginning – which may last years – be prepared to put in the time.
- “I work better alone – I should be an entrepreneur.”
It’s a myth that entrepreneurs are individuals who work best alone. Research shows that teams are much more likely to succeed than individuals.
Entrepreneurship is truly a team sport – after all, behind the most successful business owners are great teams.
Don’t buy into that image of the entrepreneur as a lone figure doing amazing things and running the show like a force of nature.
The truth, though, is that entrepreneurs have to have incredible people skills to sell their vision to others. You’ll need a good network and support to succeed.
- “I’m a risk-taker, so I’ll leave my day job.”
In his book, How to Start and Operate a Business: Winning the Entrepreneurial Game, David Rye lists and debunks a number of myths, among them the idea that entrepreneurs are high risk-takers.
Entrepreneurs, Rye says, are often thought of in terms of the risks they take on. Even the dictionary describes an entrepreneur as one who assumes business risks.
However, like all prudent businesspeople, entrepreneurs are neither high nor low risk-takers. They prefer situations in which they can influence the outcome, and they like challenges if they believe the odds are in their favour.
Entrepreneurs tend to carefully seek the best risk/reward action. One of the ways they do this is by choosing the best business ideas out there. Knowing which businesses to start and which to avoid is the first step towards success.
The entrepreneur’s risks are not the reckless actions of a devil-may-care upstart.
- “I’m tired of working hard and being so stressed all the time.”
Entrepreneurship is not guaranteed to be more fulfilling or to make you happier. Just about everyone enjoys doing great work they can be proud of. And you can do that working for a big company, a small company or your own company.
Fulfilment has absolutely nothing to do with business ownership. If you want to manage, lead or run a business, you’re better off learning the ropes at a good company before starting your own.
Most people are actually happier without the headache, risks, burdens, hurdles and uncertainty of running their own firms.