The thought of becoming an entrepreneur is appealing to many people, but dreams are often put on ice due to misconceptions and myths. Poor advice from unqualified individuals, outright assumptions and inaccuracies in the media may all prevent someone from jumping into the entrepreneurial fray.
Here are five myths you can quash, immediately, about becoming an entrepreneur.
1. You have to be born an entrepreneur.
While plenty of entrepreneurs are born to their mission, that isn’t a prerequisite. I knew entrepreneurship was my path at an early age, as my father played a huge role in encouraging me to start my own business.
However, there are also plenty of successful entrepreneurs who leave the corporate world and a traditional 9-to-5 life to become successful entrepreneurs. You just need the guts to take the leap and the tenacity to battle through ups and downs until you accomplish what you set out to do.
There are so many resources available to aspiring entrepreneurs -- local meetups, entrepreneurial groups, even co-working spaces -- all there to help anyone succeed if he or she is willing to put in the work.
2. You need lots of money to start a business (Don't worry: Investors are begging to give it to you).
While being blessed with an endless supply of capital to start a business is never a bad thing, it’s not necessary. If startup capital is minimal, you are going to need to bootstrap your growth, because investor money isn’t as plentiful as the media likes to portray it. The reality of investor money is that less than 1 percent of startups raise venture capital.
Bootstrapping, then, may mean slower than desired growth, but look at the benefits:
- You retain 100 percent of the equity.
- You are able to make split-second decisions without requiring board approval.
- Your business truly is your business.
I bootstrapped the growth of my own business, and while extremely difficult, my efforts were also extremely rewarding. The lessons you learn along the way are priceless and will make you a better entrepreneur.
3. You need a completely unique idea in order to be successful.
Sometimes the most successful ideas involve slight tweaks to an existing product or service. You don’t have to necessarily reinvent the wheel -- you just have to make it better.
Look at Uber, for example. Taxis have been around forever and are something that our culture uses day in and day out. Uber didn’t reinvent transportation; it simply made transportation more convenient.
Had Uber never been created, people would still be using traditional taxis to get around cities. With Uber in the picture, consumers now have a choice: Hail a traditional taxi that may smell like a urinal (hopefully not), or use the convenient Uber app and experience a more-than-likely pleasant ride.
Your idea doesn’t have to be unique, but it does have to be better than any other option on the market.
4. You have to be a reckless ‘all-in’ risk-taker.
You will often hear about entrepreneurs who took out a second mortgage on their home or drained their 401(K)s and children’s college funds to start their businesses. The media loves these stories, because they add the element of risk and uncertainty to an otherwise cut-and-dried story.
Being an entrepreneur doesn’t have to mirror a night of betting on red or black at the roulette table. Map out your plan so you are completely comfortable with your risk level. If that means continuing to work your 9-to-5 gig while working on your business in the evening, so be it.
5. You have to be well connected.
Do connections and "who you know" help? Of course they do, but don’t let a lack of business contacts prevent you from pursuing your entrepreneurial dreams. Contacts alone aren’t going to equal success -- a lazy entrepreneur with contacts is going to get beaten every time by someone with a better work ethic, regardless of those connections.
If a specific contact will make a significant impact on the success of your business, then start kicking down doors to make that introduction happen. I’ve made priceless connections from cold emailing, networking at conferences and using social media. Sometimes, getting on someone’s radar requires some clever relationship hacking, but a determined entrepreneur will figure out a way to make it happen.