There’s no doubt that being an entrepreneur and attempting to jumpstart a brand new business will bring its fair share of stresses into your life. Becoming an entrepreneur is not a clear cut path, it’s undefined and certainly difficult to achieve. Many people dream of starting their own businesses and being successful in their endeavors, but sadly many do fail. In order to approach your idea with more of an open mind, it might be a good idea to assess certain myths and misconceptions associated with being an entrepreneur so that you can more easily find your own path and with a little luck, be successful.
1. Entrepreneurship gives you freedom from a work schedule
This is somewhat true, as entrepreneurs don’t have a work day in the traditional sense and no supervisors to keep them working a straight 9 to 5 schedule, but they do need to keep on top of their work. Especially in the beginning of building a business, it’s likely that entrepreneurs will work exceedingly more hours than those who punch a time clock. You have more flexibility, sure, but you have an obligation to your stockholders, financial backers, clients, and client leads that you are willing and able to get the job done, regardless of it is convenient or not to your schedule. Vacations and plans are likely to fall by the wayside the first couple years of getting your business off the ground.
2. Great Ideas = Successful Businesses
While your product or service might be innovative and original, it doesn’t necessarily equate to success. It’s easy to view your idea as excellent and applicable to everyone, however, you’re likely to overestimate how necessary it is in the marketplace. In order for a business to get to the place of success, more than just product building and planning needs to happen. You have to know who your potential clients may be and market to them as best as possible. Moreover, you are going to need a strong network and people who can help you determine the market size for your product or service.
3. In the early days, I’ll need to do everything myself
This one really depends on what kind of support you have from your connections and how much capital you start out with. If you don’t have a lot of capital, you’re probably going to need to learn a variety of skills quickly and get to work. If you’re beginning this venture with hefty savings and you can afford to outsource some work, this is an excellent idea. Know your strengths and weaknesses. If you need to design a logo for your business or create a website, but you have no idea how to go about that yourself, it might be a good idea to have that work outsourced by a professional if you can afford to do so. Instead of scratching your head and spending countless hours agonizing over crafting a website, have someone do that for you and save your time for more productive tasks.
4. You have to be in your 20s to get started
The idea that all entrepreneurs get started in their 20s is quite pervasive in society, however, the statistics just don’t support this myth. While it’s true, a lot of entrepreneurs like Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg get a lot of attention and also got started in their 20s, ages when people began entrepreneurship vary greatly. For example, in 2009, a survey of 549 entrepreneurs was taken at Stanford University found that the average age of the participants was 40. Many were tired of working for others and most wanted to gain a large amount of wealth before retiring. It’s easy to believe that most startups are created by someone under the age of 30, but this shouldn’t hold you back if you’re mid-career level and want to start your own business.
5. Having a lot of clients = Success
You’ve done your due diligence in marketing your product or service to many people and the interest is overwhelming. While it may seem like you’ve hit the peak of success, this just isn’t the case. Especially in the beginning, it’s easy for entrepreneurs to spread themselves too thin and offer up additional services to clients upon their request. While it seems like this course of action should be considered great customer service, it really just dilutes your goals and can cause confusion in the marketplace about what your business is really about. Additionally, some clients will be more of a hassle than they’re worth, wanting additional discounts on their price, more work than they’re paying for, or just, in general, be high maintenance. Finally, taking on a lot of clients is great, if you are able to keep up with the work without diminishing your brand. Sometimes, entrepreneurs are so eager to take on as many clients as possible that they take on more work than is physically possible. Taking on this level of work could cause you to cut corners on the finished product or not be able to meet promised deadlines.
6. Dropping out of college makes you a better entrepreneur
This one can be baffling, but many people believe that skimping on education means you’ll be better prepared to start your life as an entrepreneur. The examples typically given when talking about this myth are Bill Gates (dropped out at 20), Steve Jobs (dropped out at 19), and Michael Dell (dropped out at 19). It’s true that some of the world’s greatest entrepreneurs did not graduate from university, but the idea that in order to be a great entrepreneur is not. In the cases of Gates, Jobs, and Dell, they were all extremely motivated and hardworking individuals before achieving success in their businesses. Though being an entrepreneur doesn’t necessarily mean you need a degree, having knowledge of the business world, communication skills and sales concepts are crucial.
7. Being an entrepreneur means you have to be willing to take crazy risks
All entrepreneurs are risk takers in a sense because there is no guarantee you will be successful. Unlike an average job, being an entrepreneur means going against the grain and trying to do something different. That being said, you don’t need to take out a second mortgage in order to fulfill your dreams. There are countless examples of people who maintain their jobs while working on their business plans outside of work. There are also examples of entrepreneurs that cash in their 401k and need to succeed so their family doesn’t lose their home. Entrepreneurs, like everyone else, exist on a spectrum of full on risk-takers and those who kept a net underneath them while they pursued their dreams.