How to Overcome the Myths of Entrepreneurship With a new startup popping up every day, many people have formed stereotypes of what entrepreneurship entails. Here are a few misconceptions about the entrepreneurial journey and how to overcome them.

By Fred Dawkins

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.


Most of what the average person reads about entrepreneurship sustains the mystique. We revere the outstanding successes achieved by extreme entrepreneurs -- everyone from Edison to Jobs. Yet, reading about these giants colors our perception of entrepreneurship. We admire their achievements but consider them beyond reach. Their stories often sustain misleading myths about entrepreneurship that keep capable people from embracing an entrepreneurial career. People begin to believe that to travel down the entrepreneurial path, a person must be born with a particular mindset, take reckless risks to achieve high rewards, work all day, everyday and must fail to succeed. Don't let these misconceptions scare you off. They couldn't be further from the truth.

Below are those misconceptions debunked:

Entrepreneurship can be taught, it should be taught and it is being taught. After 50 years of a flawed model focused on churning out executives for large corporations, colleges and universities have turned their attention to promoting and encouraging entrepreneurship. These schools are focusing on teaching the entrepreneurial lifestyle; one focused on both the mindset and the skillset required to become an entrepreneur. Everything from university incubators to mentor programs and pitch sessions are being offered.

Related: Top 50 College Entrepreneurship Programs in the U.S. (Interactive Graphic)

Entrepreneurship is not about the risk you take, but the results that you achieve It's a startling paradox. Too many good opportunities die prematurely because so many potential entrepreneurs are risk averse. At the same time businesses are failing because of absurd risks fostered by the idea that being an entrepreneur is nothing more than a gamble. Entrepreneurs succeed through determination -- not by taking unwarranted risk. Managing risk as you embrace it is critical. Not all ideas are opportunities and every opportunity is not viable. Managed risk is inherent in the lean startup focused on getting valuable feedback from potential end users before jumping into a full-scale operation.

Related: 7 Sins of Newbie Entrepreneurs

Entrepreneurs need to find work-life balance. Having a strong work ethic and being willing to put in extended days when required is critical. During your startup phase and later when you encounter bumps in the road, you will work long hours with great satisfaction. But as things progress you need to find balance by building your team, easing control and empowering your staff. You must recharge your batteries to persevere. Never forget: You are your most valuable human resource. Without balance your performance will suffer, your business will be restrained and your personal life will be sacrificed unnecessarily.

Failure is not essential. Entrepreneurs manage their risk and avoid failure. Describing failure as an essential part of success is rational, but many entrepreneurs are motivated more by the fear of failure than the rewards of success. Failure only happens when we either quit or are forced to give up. Mistakes are part of the learning curve. We learn from them because we take the time to analyze them. Success is elating and can mask our faults. Continually improve by understanding what you do right and correcting what you do wrong in good times and in bad. If you do experience failure, you can and will bounce back.

Being an entrepreneur is within your reach. You can become a problem solver who is determined to find a way to make things happen. It is important to understand, we can't all be innovators but for every innovation there will be thousands of entrepreneurs finding applications that solve everyday problems, while producing jobs and gaining independence.

Believe in your own ability. You can establish the mindset of an entrepreneur by eliminating the word can't from your vocabulary. You can approach problems by skipping right over the question if it can be solved and moving directly to the question of how it will be solved. You can find opportunity and you can analyze to make sure that opportunity is viable. All of this can be done within the context of the traditional economy, and you don't have to be a tech genius to do it. We are entering a new era of entrepreneurship, which means it is an option for almost anyone.

Related: Why Millennials Should Become Entrepreneurs Now

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Fred Dawkins


Fred Dawkins is a serial entrepreneur with more than 40 years of experience and achievements in manufacturing, retail, land development, consulting and the import/export industry. He has also authored Everyday Entrepreneur (Dundurn Press), the first book in Dawkins’Entrepreneurial Edge series and is currently available at major retail booksellers. For more information on Fred, visit his website.

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