Vacation Whenever You Want! (And 4 Other Completely Bogus Myths About Being an Entrepreneur.)
Entrepreneurs get their start for all sorts of reasons. Maybe you hate your job. Maybe you’ve got a groundbreaking, innovative idea. Maybe your childhood hero was Steve Jobs. But how do you bridge the knowledge gap between conventional ideas about business, and the wisdom that it takes to actually start and run a business? The first step is realizing what entrepreneurship is and isn’t. (If you ever want a good laugh, ask an entrepreneur how great it is to be able to vacation whenever they want.) Here are 4 common myths about being an entrepreneur—debunked.
1. You are your own boss.
Even the most successful entrepreneurs are, in reality, working for a number of “bosses”. Instead of having a single manager at a large company, an entrepreneur must serve multiple clients, investors and prospective customers daily. Strong communication, organization, and management skills are required in order to maintain relationships with various stakeholders while pursuing new ones.
As an entrepreneur, you can enjoy more control over your destiny than a typical 9-5 employee, but that doesn’t mean you make all the rules. Whether you’re serving your customers or reporting to your investors/board, you’ll always have a "boss."
2. If you work for yourself, then you're an entrepreneur.
Consultants and freelancers are just two examples of professionals who provide an independent service but aren’t necessarily entrepreneurs. According to Small Business Administration (SBA) statistics, 21.1 million of the 27 million small businesses in the U.S. have no workers other than the owner.
That said, there’s a reason that it’s important to differentiate between self-employed persons and entrepreneurs — the latter requires an extensive skillset or willingness to become ‘Chief Cook & Bottle Washer’ establishing yourself as a capable visionary, employer and manager. Working for yourself is hard enough -- being an entrepreneur is a whole other ball game.
3. Entrepreneurship will make you rich.
Billionaires like Richard Branson, Bill Gates, and Mark Cuban are pioneering success stories of entrepreneurship. However, there are thousands of others out there who have spent years building their brands, often in pursuit of not just wealth, but making a difference in their community.
The typical entrepreneur actually earns less money than you’d probably think. In other words, don’t let money be your motivation -- find your ‘why’ before you dive in and make sure that always guides you.
4. You need to raise money to succeed.
Say you have a great idea or have successfully validated market demand for a product/service you brought to the market. Do you now need to find some angel investors or venture capitalists? It’s circumstantial, but in most cases, probably not.
The reality is that most entrepreneurs go into debt to finance their companies until they become profitable enough to attract investors. Less than 1 out of every 1,000 entrepreneurs manage to secure investments from venture capitalists even when it’s merited to support growth.
Where many entrepreneurs turn to friends, family, and savings to get their businesses off the ground, you should arm yourself with the knowledge of how to effectively self-fund, or ‘bootstrap’ your venture.
The reality of being an entrepreneur
Few people realize that it’s incredibly difficult to keep a small business or startup profitable. And beyond the bottom line, the stress and chaos of running a business often wreak havoc on the personal and social lives of budding entrepreneurs.
None of this is meant to be discouraging, however. If starting a business is in the cards for you, then absolutely, play that hand. Just know upfront what your chances of winning are — and how to maximize them.