The world of start-ups is full of myths—untrue yet persistent narratives popularized by the news media, the entertainment industry, and politicians and often uncritically accepted by founders themselves. In many cases, these false beliefs actually serve to hold entrepreneurs back from their true potential or, worse, lead them toward failure. In this article I’ll trace through the most persistent start-up myths circulating today.
Do you have what it takes to be an entrepreneur?
These myths aren’t necessarily all true. Furthermore, there are some theories about business owners that might encourage you to create a startup company. Some of these are myths as well.
I want to clear up any misconceptions you might have about entrepreneurship.
Here’s the 15 most common myths about STARTUPS:
1. The Founder Should Do Every Job in the Early Days
A lot of founders tell me that they don’t have enough time to invest hours into customer development or content marketing.
Yet they spend hours each week on things like scheduling, internet research and formatting investor decks. Even when you don’t have a lot of money, recognizing where you could be getting massively greater returns on your time – for example, spending an hour doing customer development versus spending an hour formatting a pitch deck – and then delegating or outsourcing the less important tasks is one of the biggest personal wins you can score.
2.. The only requirement is a good idea.
Many people also believe that all it takes to live the American dream is to have that one fantastic idea for a company. While the notion isn’t entirely false, it is misleading. Even the very best ideas — ones with the potential to disrupt an entire industry — need proper execution to become reality. Ideas are important, but so are planning, talent, leadership, communication, and a host of other factors.
3. Starting a new business guarantees freedom.
The appeal of breaking out of the traditional, 40-hour work week draws many to the prospect of starting their own business. What lots of people find is that while they leave behind their old schedule and creative limitations, they exchange them for new demands. Sure, there will be more freedom in some respects, but entrepreneurism often requires great sacrifices. It can consume every part of your waking life; the work doesn’t end when the clock strikes 5 p.m.
4. Failure means you should give up
Nobody looks forward to failing, but even the most successful business owners have experience failure. How you manage through failure builds character and gives you the opportunity to learn lessons that will determine future success. Failure can actually be good for you as it teaches lessons that success cannot. In fact, some investors prefer to invest in companies run by people who have failed at least once. Failure can be discouraging, but don’t take it as a sign that you should abandon your dream. Brush yourself off, learn from the experience, and try again.
5. Businesses need someone with an MBA or other business degree.
Confusing value and necessity is a mistake when it comes to entrepreneurs and business degrees. On the one hand, a formal education provides immeasurable benefits. On the other, the market does not require entrepreneurs to have an MBA or other business degree. Some startup owners have degrees in subjects like engineering, for instance; they use their deep technical knowledge to identify gaps in technology and devise solutions. Other successful startup founders have no degree at all.
6. There’s a secret, “silver bullet” key to success.
In business, many successful entrepreneurs promote the impression that they’ve found some kind of secret key to success. However, this doesn’t take into account the entrepreneur’s previous ideas that failed; the old-fashioned hard work and patience they put in; or any of the many other factors that are necessary to build a strong company. The reality is that a single key to success does not exist. If anything, entrepreneurial success requires a keychain of different ideas, people, and resources that must come together at the right time and place
7. Need to Take a Lot of Huge Risks
Entrepreneurship is often associated with risk, and I don’t really think that’s a helpful association, as it encourages first-time entrepreneurs to be more gung-ho with their decision making.
In fact, the entrepreneurs I know who win consistently are quite risk-averse.
They’ll make calculated bets and take smaller risks – this is what lean startups are built around – rather than swinging for the fences with any single business decision.
Taking smaller risks and hedging against loss helps you stay around for a lot longer… and gives you the time to place a lot more calculated bets.
8. All responsibility falls on the entrepreneur.
Another misconception about running a new business is that everything depends solely on the entrepreneur. This might be true at the earliest stages, but taking this idea too seriously is also the best way to guarantee burnout. Collaboration and the art of delegation figure strongly in the health of a company. No one can do it all alone.
9. Need to Rent an Office
Another real quote:
Our first order of business is renting an office to work out of.
There are only a few things that a bootstrapped business needs in its earliest days, and an office isn’t one of them.
Work from home, coffee shops, coworking spaces… anywhere that doesn’t tie up thousands of dollars per month that would be better spent actually building your business.
And then, if you don’t want to go the remote route, invest in an office when you can comfortably handle the expense.
10. Your First Hires Should All Be Developers
If your team of 4-5 people is 100% developers (including the founder), you’re missing out.
Unless one of your developers is doing full-time customer development, and another one is doing full-time marketing (yes, even before your product has launched), and another one is doing customer support, then you’re missing some critical business functions that are far more important to your business than the incremental value of a third or fourth developer at that stage of your business.
11. Only money motivates employees.
A myth related to the “get rich quick” idea is the assumption that money is the best way to motivate employees. Recent statistics have shown that Millennials, who are quickly becoming the majority in the workplace, would rather earn less at a job they enjoy than secure a higher wage doing something they hate. Overcoming this misconception puts a heavy obligation on the entrepreneur to develop not only a business model that generates revenue, but also a company culture that engages employees.
12. 24/7 Workday
Too many entrepreneurs think that in order to run a startup, you need to live the lifestyle of working 24/7 and have a startup mentality. The best advice I ever received was that you need a few days where you pull long hours and overnighters, but if you set your company up as a company, not a perpetual startup, you will be able to work a normal work day and be more successful in business and life.
13. Wait until the “right” time
If you wait until the perfect time to start your business, you’ll be waiting for forever. Life stops for no one and odds are that the “right” time won’t be the crystal clear moment you imagined. If you are passionate and serious about what you want, the time to pursue your dreams is NOW. Make time in your schedule by planning out your week and eliminating procrastination. You will be glad you did when your vision becomes a reality.
14. Starting a company or Business quickly leads to Get Rich.
More than once, I’ve heard founders tell me that their main motivation for starting a business is that it’s the only way to achieve “financial independence.”
Guess what. There are much more reliable and less risky ways to achieve financial independence than becoming an entrepreneur.
For example, by investing in yourself, learning a valuable skill (like coding), building a strong network, leveraging that network to land well-paid jobs and saving intelligently, you’ll be on a much more certain path to financial freedom than most entrepreneurs.
You can get rich in business, but it’s certainly not the easiest, or most guaranteed way.
15. Entrepreneurs are born that way.
Many people assume that entrepreneurs are born that way — and that only people who have certain natural talents can be entrepreneurs. However, the truth is that almost anyone can become an entrepreneur if they can learn the necessary skills. True, some people may adjust to the demands of the role more quickly, but there’s no rule that says only certain types of people can found companies. Entrepreneurs may be gregarious extroverts or quiet introverts; they may be “big picture” thinkers or more focused on the details of executing an idea. Entrepreneurism is a learned skill, not a natural-born ability.
When you’re ready to launch your startup, keep these myths in mind.
We’re not saying overnight success isn’t possible, or that you shouldn’t be passionate about your business.
That said, make sure you are equipped with the reality of starting your own business: it takes time, hard work, and a healthy dose of grit.
If you’ve got the right mindset and reasonable expectations, there’s no reason why you can’t get started on chasing your business dream today.