There is something about entrepreneurial success stories that makes people uncomfortable. After all, the very notion of working for oneself flies in the face of convention. An example of someone who not only tried an entrepreneurial gig but thrived in it seems to demand an explanation.
As people are trying to navigate away from the “corporate jungle” towards the land of supposed “entrepreneurial utopia,” a lot of misconceptions arise.
The question seems to be ‘How did such an unnatural event occur?’ In response, a great number of social and cultural myths have formed around the idea of what it ‘really’ takes to be an entrepreneur. Below are some of the most prevailing myths.
Myth #1: Entrepreneurs don’t quit.
Whoever came up with this idea that quitting is bad and that entrepreneurs don’t quit?
Quitting is what makes an entrepreneur an entrepreneur.
First, most entrepreneurs have to quit their day job in order to become an entrepreneur. That’s the crucial quitting point.
Most entrepreneurs have also quit some entrepreneurial venture. If an entrepreneur starts a crappy business and knows it, then he/she’s going to quit.
Elon Musk quit. Steve Jobs quit. These people are rockstar entrepreneurs, but they stepped in and out of jobs. This completely shatters the myth of the entrepreneur who never quits.
Successful entrepreneurs need to quit sometimes.
There’s nothing wrong with quitting something stupid. Let go of it. True success is knowing what to quit and when to quit.
Myth #2: Entrepreneurs are their own boss.
Nobody is their own boss. Everyone has someone they report to.
Let’s dispense with the idea that someday you’ll be an entrepreneur in complete charge of your entire existence.
In many cases, your business becomes your new boss. It’s ruthless, demanding, heartless, requiring 15-hour workdays, and zero vacation time. If you are running a consulting business, your clients are your boss. If your startup gets funded, your investors become your boss.
Oh, and while you’re at it, entrepreneurship is not necessarily going to produce a utopian work-life balance, either.
Myth #3: It Takes Money to Make Money
This is perhaps the oldest entrepreneur’s myth of all. The first thing out of a defeatist’s mouth, when confronted with a successful entrepreneur is ‘he must have had an inheritance/been rich/etc.’ In fact, the world is full of self-made men and women who did not start out with any great deal of money.
Many entrepreneurs have started businesses amidst troubling financial circumstances and only prospered monetarily once their companies took off.
Myth #4: Entrepreneurs Are Born
Many people believe that entrepreneurs possess innate, genetic talents. However, experts generally agree that most entrepreneurs were not born; they learned to become entrepreneurs. The recent proliferation of college and university courses on the subject supports this point. Entrepreneurship is currently being successfully taught.
Myth #5: ‘You Need a Great Idea’
Another commonly imagined stumbling block to being an entrepreneur is lack of a ‘great idea.’ Somewhere along the line, ‘entrepreneurship’ became synonymous in the public mind with ‘new-age’ or ‘unconventional.’ But while some entrepreneurs run unorthodox businesses, just as many (and probably far more) succeed in industries that are as old as commerce itself.
The owner of a restaurant or carpentry business is no less an entrepreneur than the founders of the next YouTube nestled in an expensive city loft. Furthermore, a ‘great idea’ is less important than a profitable, proven business model.
I believe that if someone aspires to entrepreneurship, he or she should immediately stop believing these myths.
As much as we love to categorize and list the strengths, characteristics, or traits of successful entrepreneurs, it’s an exercise in folly. By their very definition, entrepreneurs are mould-breakers and disruptors.
To be a successful entrepreneur, maybe the first step is to let go of everything you always believed about entrepreneurship.
At International Centre for Culture and Education, we aim to prepare our participants to overcome such myths through our Entrepreneur Vision program. Join Entrepreneur Vision and break through any myths that is holding you back with our guidance.