To Tell The Truth

Myth #1

Get Rich Quick!

Reality: Perpetuated by everyone from sleazy, two-bit advertisers to even the most blue-blooded business media, GRQ is the mother of all small-business myths. As we've evolved, this myth has often taken on more sophisticated forms, but the undercurrent is the same, as is the appeal. We're Pavlovian--GRQ is the bell that stirs the greedy juices within us. We practically slobber over stories of people who rose from obscurity (where we live) to untold wealth (where "They" live). Team that aspiration with our lack of patience, and we have that all-American desire to detour off the well-trodden road of hard work and skip past Go, collecting our $200 to boot.

The problem with the GRQ myth is that, while amusing when blatant, it's dangerous when veiled. Even those who have figured out that Las Vegas is nothing more than a money pit can fall prey to whispered business leads, promises of shortcuts to wealth or hints of stock market guarantees.

Don't confuse entrepreneurship with a slot machine. Life as an entrepreneur is not all about money, it's certainly not all about getting rich, and rarely does success happen overnight. Unbeknownst to his admiring public, Stephen Gordon, founder of the latest and hottest chain of home decor stores, opened his first Restoration Hardware Inc. in 1980. Although he now oversees 41 stores, which pull in annual sales of $100 million, Gordon deliberately kept his business small for many years. His early goal was not growth; he didn't start his national expansion until the early '90s. Quick? Easy? Says Gordon, "All but the extreme deviations from the norm point to the fact that with great ideas, incredible dedication, long hours, many years and a modicum of talent, you might, in fact, `get rich.' "

Sometimes in business you become cash poor, wondering how you're going to cover next week's paychecks. Sometimes you go slowly, nervously twiddling your thumbs as clients make their decisions. It's about perseverance, patience and, yes, hard work. If you consider these to be bad words, think about going to work for someone else--quick.

This is not a game, nor is it a race. Take a breath. Figure out what you really want to do. Roll the dice and go around the board like everyone else--just a little more strategically--collecting properties, building houses, trading up for hotels, reveling in those moments of Boardwalk glory.

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