I’m constantly astounded by how many aspiring business owners there are who believe totally false narratives about what the reality of owning a business will be like. For example, I know lots of people are often concerned about not being able to raise any money to actually get started, but in actuality, this part is very doable. In fact, there are a ton of incorrect myths that surround entrepreneurship. For starters:
There isn’t enough money to go around: Yes, of course during the recession capital was harder to come by, but let’s do a little thought experiment:
Take a mental snapshot of the busiest retail street in your area. Visualize all of those businesses. Now go higher, pan out more. And even so more. Think about all of the businesses in your city, county, state.
All of those businesses found the money they needed.
Here’s what I know: There is plenty of money out there to start, run, and grow your business. Banks want to lend to you. That is their business. Investors want to invest in you. That is their business. There is indeed plenty of money to be had.
Entrepreneurs are lone wolfs: Especially in America, there is a prevalent view that entrepreneurs are solo acts who come up with great ideas and defy convention to disrupt the status quo.
Again, while there is a grain of truth in this belief, it’s only a grain. It is far truer that entrepreneurs, rather than being iconoclastic solo acts, are instead great team builders. Steve Jobs most certainly did not create Apple on his own; he did it by being a visionary yes, but equally, by surrounding himself with great talent. Ditto Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates.
Starting a business will free me up: In theory, working for yourself should give you more control over your schedule.
In reality, the opposite is probably far more common. Owning and running a business is a time-consuming, demanding occupation. Many entrepreneurs work far harder for themselves than they ever did for someone else.
If you build it, they will come: There is a popular myth that goes something like this: “If I have a great idea, do my best, work hard, and offer a good product at a fair price, people will find me and my business will be successful.”
Maybe. Maybe not.
Here’s how people will definitely find you: You market your business, and then you market it some more. And you work hard. And maybe you get a little lucky. Good ideas usually do not win out on their own merits alone (and bad ideas rarely succeed, the market being what it is and all.)
It is better to innovate and offer something unique: This is a myth that frustrates me a lot. Of course there is a lot to be said about coming up with that brainstorm idea and rocking the world.
For most of us however, there is a lot more to be said for being a follower than a leader.
This is especially true if you have never been an entrepreneur before. There are just so many things that go into the success equation that doing something untried and getting the world to take notice of it, especially today, is often not the best way to go. Better: Notice what works and copy that.
Entrepreneurs are only in it for the money: Look, everyone likes to make money, but the fact is, the best entrepreneurs almost always have motivations that are simultaneously bigger and deeper than simply making a profit.
Entrepreneurs tend to be idealists, optimists. That they will (hopefully) make money is the process is, to them, as it should be. But money is the icing, not the cake.
BY STEVE STRAUSS
© 2017, The Strauss Group, Inc.