You are going to hear a lot of solicited and unsolicited advice when you announce that you want to become an entrepreneur. Just be sure not to fall for three common myths about startup ownership and leadership.
Serial entrepreneurs never forget their first jumps. While the experience can be exciting, there are also risks involved. That’s why many wait until the last second to quit their full-time jobs. By having a fixed income for as long as possible, they can build a financial safety net. But they also need a different kind of safety net: clear answers about what to expect.
Unfortunately, real-world advice can be hard to come by when planning to start a business. Oh, you get tips and hints galore. The problem is that you often get half-truths or misinformation from well-meaning relatives, friends, and the occasional stranger. This leaves you with an incorrect perception and assumption of what ‘should’ happen. And if you take steps based on myths instead of facts, your path to entrepreneurship can come to an abrupt end.
But do not worry. Many people – myself included – are nothing short of outright shooters. We like to explain the good, the bad and the ugly. We also love debunking the most common misconceptions about becoming your own boss. Below are three fallacies that should be put to bed right away.
Myth 1: “You have to have all the answers before you start.”
It is impossible to find out where or why this sentiment originated. The smartest person in the world doesn’t have all the answers to every question. Omniscient oracles like those described in Greek legends just don’t exist.
One of the greatest gifts you can leverage as a startup leader is your ignorance. Series entrepreneur Marcus Lemonis agrees: “My main asset is vulnerability. If you can be more vulnerable and more humane, I tell you that you will do more business.”
If you don’t know how to do something, it makes perfect sense to find someone who does. That could be a mentor, a colleague or someone you are friends with on LinkedIn. Asking for clarity and help shows that you are aware of your limitations. It also allows you to learn from the experiences and points of view of others. Never underestimate the power of being able to look at a problem (and its possible solutions) from multiple angles.
Myth 2: “You don’t need passion. You just need to fill a gap in the market.”
The idea of leaving a reliable income for a role that doesn’t excite you makes little sense. However, many entrepreneurs have decided to start businesses to meet their needs. Take Johanna Buchweitz, founder of Honestly co., an online community for female entrepreneurs. Buchweitz admits she made the mistake of starting a business she wasn’t really excited about — and she doesn’t recommend anyone else follow suit.
“The first company I founded was a platform for content creators that made it easy for them to create and monetize their content,” notes Buchweitz. “Every challenge I faced felt like pushing a boulder up a mountain. On the other hand, my current company combines my passion with a gap in the market. Challenges are more like pushing furniture through an ice rink. Problem solving becomes fun, and I can see it as an exciting learning opportunity, as opposed to another detriment to the company’s growth.”
Buchweitz’s experiences were recently held up in a study conducted by researchers from the United States and Canada. The research showed that passion influences the choices people make. When they are passionate about a goal, their intrinsically high motivation led them to act more proactively and pragmatically.
If you’re not 100% sure that a business you’re about to start is something you’re comfortable with, pausing makes sense. Think about why you are taking this step. It’s okay to put the brakes on one business so you can focus on another that will boost your interests.
Myth 3: “If you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life.”
It could be Mark Twain who came up with this oft-cited statement. Or it was Marc Antony? Maybe someone else? Regardless of who first made this observation, the observer was somewhat off-base.
You can love your job, be passionate about your business, feel totally ecstatic, and still have stressful days where you want to throw in the towel. That’s because being an entrepreneur is hard work. Most founders make huge sacrifices. They get up in the wee hours of the morning. They forego vacations. They fill in for employees who fall ill, take leave or stop working. It’s not glamorous.
Harsha L’Acqua (formerly Chanrai), founder of Saira Hospitality, hit the nail on the head when she deconstructed real everyday life of an entrepreneur. She advises, “You will wear every hat, learn every department, and become an expert in every aspect of your business, not just by choice, but by necessity. You will be the one driving your own success, and you will have to find the motivation to make it happen, which requires a lot of work.
That doesn’t mean being an entrepreneur can’t be fun. It can and it must. At the same time, it can be demanding. All your obligations can drain you, not to mention nagging worries regarding your financial situation. It’s best to accept these facts in the beginning and find ways to carve out some “you time,” whether that means hitting the gym at 5 a.m. or putting all your devices away for dinner. You feel more rested and recharged for the work (yes, work) ahead.
Still think startup life sounds perfect? You probably have the temperament and will of a serial entrepreneur. The only way to earn that badge? Go out and build your dream business. Just make sure you don’t fall for the startup myths you hear along the way.