The life of an entrepreneur. Sounds good doesn’t it?
Unfortunately, the stuff we read about the multi-millionaire, uber-successful entrepreneurs is a bit of an illusion—it bears no resemblance to the experiences of your average entrepreneur.
I recently wrote about how WordPress and entrepreneurship are naturally aligned, but, perhaps because of some common misconceptions, many people are still afraid to jump aboard the entrepreneur train.
Today I want to debunk four common myths about entrepreneurs.
1. Entrepreneurs are lucky
A few years ago, I remember sitting around with a group of friends smack talking our day jobs—specifically, about how we’d all like to hand in our notice and stick it to our boss.
When the entrepreneurial member of our group started venting his frustrations about his business, one guy spoke out.
“You don’t understand. You’re lucky. You have a successful business.”
I remember that phrase, ‘lucky,’ really striking a chord with me.
Context is everything, and my friend clearly wasn’t saying, “You’re lucky; I would give anything to live that life, bro.” He was implying my entrepreneurial friend had ‘lucked out.’
There seems to be a common misconception that entrepreneurs are ‘born lucky.’
I think a lot of this stems from the victim-like mentality that’s becoming prevalent in Western society—“That person has an awesome business and I don’t, but it’s not my fault, they’re just lucky.”
In other words, a lack of accountability.
But when my friend talked about the entrepreneur’s luck, he was excluding a number of truths:
- The entrepreneur had given up a cushy job to start his own business.
- The entrepreneur had spent time researching and learning about an industry he knew little about.
- The entrepreneur had taken a risk and invested in stock.
- The entrepreneur had to make major sacrifices to make ends meet in the early days.
- The entrepreneur had to learn everything he needed to know about marketing, bookkeeping, cash-flow management, etc.
- The entrepreneur had made key strategic decisions to get the business to the stage it was now at.
It’s not as if he had just woken up one day with a successful business to his name. He had taken a number of calculated risks and put in a ton of hard work to get where he was. And now he was (finally) reaping the rewards.
Was luck involved? Absolutely. There’s an element of luck in the early stages of all successful businesses.
But was his success because of luck? No way, and thinking otherwise does entrepreneurs a huge disservice.
2. Entrepreneurs are always successful
When we think of entrepreneurs, it’s easy to jump straight to the multi-millionaire, business tycoons—the Bill Gates, Donald Trumps, and Steve Jobs of the world. We tend to think of them in terms of their most successful company; the company they’re best known for.
It’s easy to jump to the conclusion that every business they touch turns to gold. However, this is rarely the case, and most successful entrepreneurs were shaped by a string of early failures.
Take Henry Ford, for example. Of course, we all know him as the founder of Ford Motor Company.
Most people don’t realize that Henry Ford tried his hand at the automobile industry twice before he founded Ford Motor Company. Both times he failed, badly.
There are tales of failure behind most successful entrepreneurs. Rather than giving up, though, these entrepreneurs showed enough resilience to keep trying.
Even if your first business is a complete flop, remember that many very rich, very successful people have failed just as badly. So consider failure to be earning your stripes.
Not all businesses succeed, but that doesn’t make the experience a waste. Sometimes it’s the lessons you learn from failure that equip you with the skills you need to build a successful business in the future.
3. Entrepreneurs need savings
Not every entrepreneur builds a successful business using a spare hundred grand they had in the bank.
Many start out with very little.
This is especially true in the internet age, where the concept of bootstrapping has really caught on. For those unfamiliar with the term, a bootstrapped business is built with no external finance—no bank loan, no investors, nothing.
Instead, the business is launched with whatever capital the entrepreneur has access to. When the business starts earning, the money is re-invested in the business’s growth.
With the growth of the internet, coupled with the rise of CMS like WordPress, launching a business is now more accessible than ever before. Think you need bucket-loads of cash? Think again. Aspiring-entrepreneurs slowly seem to be realizing this.
If you’ve got an idea, make it a reality; you never know, you could have the next big-money blog in a few years’ time.
4. Entrepreneurs need a big idea
Many could-be entrepreneurs dismiss their business idea because it doesn’t have a wide enough reach. The truth is: you don’t need a target audience in the millions to be successful. Just because your idea lacks the potential to become the next Apple doesn’t mean you shouldn’t pursue it.
Many people are perfectly happy without becoming millionaires, let alone billionaires. As long as your idea has the potential to earn you a living, and (more importantly) you’re passionate about it, what’s stopping you?
Most people think too big.
Of course, there’s nothing wrong with that, but you could spend a lifetime waiting for that big idea to land. If you aimed a little smaller, you could still be richer than you ever thought possible. The difference: it’s far more realistic.
Take the owner of a new Italian restaurant, for example. It’s hardly a groundbreaking concept for a business, and the customer base is restricted to the people who like Italian food in the town’s local area.
Is the restaurateur any less of an entrepreneur because his new restaurant might never make millions? Of course not. The owner is still following a passion and his new restaurant could still make him relatively well off.
Remember: Businesses come in all shapes and sizes and there’s nothing wrong with that. Besides, how do you know the true potential of your ‘small’ idea until you’ve tried it?
If you have a great idea for a business and you want to become an entrepreneur, ask yourself this: what’s stopping you?
There’s a lot of misconceptions out there, and they make it easy to talk yourself out of entrepreneurship. In reality, many of the common misconceptions you hear are wrong—and we’ve debunked a few of them today. The truth is that you’ll never learn what it’s really like to be an entrepreneur until you put yourself out there.
What are your favorite myths about entrepreneurship? Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments section below!