The life of an entrepreneur might seem glamorous and maybe a little ethereal. There’s an allure to calling your own shots, spending nights brainstorming new ways to generate business and making regular visits to the bank to deposit the stacks of cash you’re raking in. But an entrepreneur will tell you this rose-colored version of their day-to-day life is far from accurate.
So, what are the most common myths about being an entrepreneur? Below we’ll explore eight of them and why they’re not true.
1. Entrepreneurs Are Giant Risk Takers
This one is tough, because many people believe striking out on your own with no formal support system—like a steady paycheck—is the biggest risk you can take. What many people interpret as risk-taking, however, is actually just entering into an untested arena. Entrepreneurs, at least successful ones, are not gamblers that go in with no preparation. Rather, they’re methodical planners who only take the leap once they’ve crunched the numbers and believe there is success to be had.
2. Entrepreneurs Are Just Tired of Working for Someone Else
Chances are that many entrepreneurs would cite “an untenable work situation” as the reason for deciding to start their own business. But, remember that any endeavor started from a place of discontent or bitterness isn’t necessarily a recipe for success.
Entrepreneurs all have one universal trait that truly drives them: a passion for their pursuit. Some call it a “fire in the belly,” and others call it a “driving need.” Whatever you call it, this is what drives entrepreneurs to strike out on their own, not a dislike for authority.
3. Men Are Better Entrepreneurs Than Women
This should really go without saying, but this myth is patently false. While there is a disproportionate number of male entrepreneurs, the idea that women are simply not good at it is far from true. In fact, some might even say that women are at an advantage due to their natural ability to build and maintain relationships. This enables them to build on early-stage development partnerships that can keep their businesses growing.
4. Entrepreneurs Are All-In From Day One
The idea that you have to focus all of your time and energy (i.e. quit your day job) to be a successful entrepreneur has proven to be wrong many times over. It is well-documented that Sarah Blakely, the founder of Spanx, spent two years selling fax machines while her idea was taking off. And Nike’s founder, Phil Knight, spent more than 10 years doing other people’s taxes before taking the leap.
5. Entrepreneurs Have an Inheritance or Trust Fund They Use to Start Their Business
Sure, a reservoir of cash would be nice, but many entrepreneurs start from very humble beginnings. Linda Rottenberg, author of Crazy Is a Compliment, cites that over half of the Inc. 500—a list of the fastest growing companies—started with $5,000 or less.
6. Entrepreneurs Are Connected
This myth no doubt grew from the old adage, “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” Sure, having a network of influential business contacts doesn’t hurt, but it doesn’t spell automatic success either. As with so many aspects of entrepreneurship, it’s about determination and hard work, not a group of well-known friends. Consider the unparalleled success of first generation immigrants as entrepreneurs, as well as those entrepreneurs who eschewed everyone else’s money and financed themselves.
7. Entrepreneurs All Start With a Great, Never-Before-Seen Idea
A lot of the entrepreneurs featured in media started with a unique idea that no one could have predicted would be successful. Think “self-driving cars,” or of a ubiquitous search engine that’s become its own verb. That being said, entrepreneurs aren’t just a product of Silicon Valley or Wall Street.
Many would probably argue that feeding people, working with wood and taking care of people’s clothes are very old, not new, ideas. Even so, restaurateurs, carpenters and dry cleaners are all entrepreneurs too. You might not make the cover of a national magazine, but does that really matter if you’re making a good living?
8. Entrepreneurs Are Lucky
This is a myth we assign to a lot of successful people we know, whether an entrepreneur or not. The neighbor who just bought a Tesla or the co-worker who just got a promotion or the former classmate who just landed his dream job, all of these people must be lucky, right? The answer is “no,” and that shouldn’t depress you.
Luck is chance, but you can’t get a chance without working for it. In this respect, luck begins with just good, old-fashioned hard work. That’s the secret that’s not so secret; hard work and perseverance are more important than luck—and more reliable too. If you’re working hard and doing great work, you increase the likelihood of being at the right place at the right time, which will open up further opportunities for even more success.
If you’re thinking about becoming an entrepreneur or already consider yourself one, how many of the above myths do you believe? Hopefully, not too many, especially after reading this. Prepare yourself for entrepreneurial success by letting go of your current belief in these myths, and start plotting your own course for success.
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