Misconceptions

It's Way Past Time to Let Go of These 7 Entrepreneurship Myths

What we don't know is a small problem compared with what we're sure is true -- which is flat-out wrong.
It's Way Past Time to Let Go of These 7 Entrepreneurship Myths
Image credit: Maskot | Getty Images
Guest Writer
Founder and president of E2M Solutions Inc.
8 min read
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Entrepreneurship is so much more than just a job. It's a way of life. Year after year, the very concept of starting a business gets a little more interesting. There is always a list of amazing success stories to learn from, as well as cautionary tales.

In my opinion, one of the most fascinating aspects of entrepreneurship is that it requires an incredibly wide range of skills and virtues. This includes people skills, financial management, situational judgement, foresight, and so much more. Launching a startup is a time when you put everything you have learned throughout your life to the test.

When you meet other entrepreneurs, there is almost always an unmistakable energy attached to all the growth-oriented conversation. However, through all the chatter, it can be easy to get caught up in the excitement and ignore the vast amounts of false information out there.

Here are seven entrepreneurship myths to leave in the rearview mirror.

1. Entrepreneurs are born with the "entrepreneur gene."

I couldn't tell you how many awesome ideas I've heard that ended with a statement along the lines of; "But, I'm not cut out to run my own business." Over the course of history, there have likely been millions of brilliant products and services that never came into fruition because of this mindset.

Truth be told, this "entrepreneur gene" that people often refer to doesn't exist. With the right mindset and motivation, just about anyone can be an entrepreneur. There is no particular mold or criteria that defines one.

The closest thing I've seen that resembles a universal success trait is the ability to get right back up after a setback, to return even stronger. With the right motivation, this is something everyone can do!

2. All you need is one great idea.

There's no denying that we live in a culture that loves instant gratification. When you're fantasizing about quitting your day job and starting your own operation, it's easy to think colossally and assume that one awesome idea will promptly catapult you to easy street. While there are definitely some rare exceptions out there (pet rock), this is a myth that should be left behind.

Related: Dissecting a Fad: How the Slinky, Mr. Potato Head and Pet Rock Became Crazy Popular

You can have the best idea in the world, one that will change an industry forever, but ideas are cheap. In order for it to become more than just wishful thinking, your idea needs to have a detailed plan for implementation. This requires leadership, communication, marketing, and countless other ingredients. To be a successful entrepreneur, the minuscule details of bringing an idea to life are just as important as the idea itself -- if not more important.

3. Formal education determines success.

Let me start by saying, furthering your education is one of the best investments you can make. In addition to the coursework, school is a place where you can pick up all kinds of habits to set you up for a bright future.

For all the benefits attached to earning a degree, when it comes to entrepreneurship, there is only so much you can learn in a classroom. Many of the most successful entrepreneurs in history never finished college, some never even finished high school.

In many ways, entrepreneurship is a no-holds-barred arena where anyone can make it. While an MBA or fancy business degree will certainly help you throughout your journey, the idea that it's a prerequisite is a myth you shouldn't buy into. If someone is trying to convince you otherwise, they might be a college recruiter.

4. Entrepreneurship is a sprint.

Silicon Valley has spawned a certain ideology about entrepreneurship. For many working in this technology Mecca, the name of the game is getting tons of traction and revenue as quickly as possible, only to sell the project and become a venture capitalist. Many new entrepreneurs are using genius breakthroughs like Uber and Airbnb as a template. But, for every Uber, there are thousands and thousands of failed startups.

The effect of this business culture is that there are all kinds of great ideas being hastily launched with no long-term plans. Patience is one of the most important virtues in entrepreneurship. Knowing how to scale growth and properly time business development are tasks that every entrepreneur needs to master for ongoing success.

5. Hitting rapid growth means you made it.

Rapid growth is a fascinating time in a business lifecycle. It's a moment of realization that you are doing something right and all your hard work is finally starting to pay off. However, it is not a sign that your challenges are over. In fact, be sure a whole new set of challenges are about to present themselves.

For all the excitement that comes with rapid growth, there are many things to be wary of. Most importantly, you need to be cautious of yourself. I cannot tell you how many times I've seen other entrepreneurs let rapid growth go their head. All too often, they get a taste of success and feel that the next step is to invest in a multitude of new ventures and expansion opportunities. The result is that they lose sight of the values and practices that made them successful in the first place.

Related: 6 Ways to Handle Rapid Growth

With a spike in revenue, it's surprisingly easy to get into the mindset that you are untouchable. This notion opens the door for impulsive, reckless behavior. When you hit rapid growth, you need to adopt the mindset that you've won the battle, not the war.

6. Money is the best employee motivator.

True, money is ultimately the reason why people wake up and go to work every day. However, people can get a job anywhere to earn money. If you want employees to stick around for the long haul, you need to create a company culture that gives people the ability to achieve their very best.

This a trend that is becoming more apparent as millennials flood the workplace. A common observation is that this generation is full of job hoppers. While it's easy to see this as a negative characteristic, the truth of the matter is that most millennials have no problem jumping for a better opportunity to advance their career.

If you live under the myth that money is the only motivator for employees, sooner or later, you'll likely end up with an unengaged workforce that's only in it for the paycheck. On the other hand, if you make a strong effort to build a healthy company culture, you'll get a passionate workforce that loves what they do.

Now, I'm not saying that you should only focus on culture and underpay your workers. Give credit where credit is due and provide people with a myriad of reasons to stick around.

7. People are expendable.

One of the biggest sins you can commit as an entrepreneur is to live under the assumption that employees are secondary, behind sales and revenue. Maximizing profits at the expense of your employees is a practice that will eventually come back to haunt you.

The "meat grinder" approach, that is quick to dump a worker the second output wanes, is an unsustainable mindset in the current business era. In addition to costing a fortune in turnover, this is not an attribute that typically attracts top tier talent. Seasoned professionals can smell a meat grinder from a mile away. And for those who can't, websites like Glassdoor give them a good idea of what your company is all about.

Even though it's a pipe dream to think that every person you bring onboard is going to work out, you are wise to adopt a business model that values the people involved and what they bring to the table.

When looking at your company from an outside perspective, what would you like to be known as? A company that positively develops talent, or one that treats their employees like a piece of meat?

Related: Staff Turnover Is Draining Your Company

One of the greatest parts about entrepreneurship is that the future holds endless possibilities. There's no telling when the next great idea will come along and change the way we live forever.

In order to keep moving forward, the best thing we can do is take a step back to examine our successes and failures and put the roadblocks behind us. If you've decided to launch a business, keep these seven myths in mind.

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7 Misconceptions About Entrepreneurship