Think you know what an entrepreneur is?
Most of us would claim we do. That it’s “a person who sets up a business or businesses, taking on financial risks in the hope of profit.” (Thanks, Google.)
But what about everything else we’ve come to expect – the broad strokes of paint the media uses to give these brave souls a bit of colour? That they’re fearless. Lone wolves. Single-minded men and women who hate working for others. That they crave control and WILL ACHIEVE WORLD DOMINATION OR DIE TRYING AND YOU BEST GET OUT OF THEIR WAY!
Er… not quite. The truth is that there is a world of myth surrounding the concept of an entrepreneur. How do we know? Because we’ve been there ourselves. So to help you separate fact from fiction, we’re going to break down 10 of the biggest myths and help prepare you for what’s to come:
1. Entrepreneurs never ever quit.
Ha! So how exactly do you think we escaped our last job to start this one? We’d argue that entrepreneurs are actually more likely to quit and try something new to achieve a goal, because we know being adaptable is the key to making a business work. Time is money. Why waste either banging our heads against a brick wall, hoping it’ll crack? Just quit and go around it.
2. Entrepreneurs know exactly what they want and how to get it.
No, we really don’t. It’s usually a case of starting out with a rough idea of a business and then fumbling our way forward to get it. And that’s okay initially, so long as lessons are learned along the way and we try not to make the same mistake twice (or three times, at least).
3. Entrepreneurs are free from the shackles of society… FREEEEE!
This is a common one, but anybody starting up their own business will quickly realise that any freedom we thought we’d gained from previous employers is an illusion. The control simply passes elsewhere – and we have to be okay with that. The government needs you to do a VAT return, so you’d better get on that today. The client wants you to meet them at noon, so you’ll have to postpone lunch. Ah, whatever. Freedom is overrated anyway.
4. Entrepreneurs hate working for other people.
The funny thing is that when you work for another employer you only have one boss, but when you run your own business you have to answer to EVERYBODY. Customers, clients, the government… they all want something from you. And your job is to give it to them, because that’s what business is. You can’t be an entrepreneur and hate working for others – or at least you can, but you won’t last long.
5. Entrepreneurs work by themselves.
Again, the whole idea of the lone wolf setting out on his business mission doesn’t quite ring true. You might start out on your own, but you’re going to have to network in order to find customers and clients. And once you start to grow, you’ll need staff to help you with the burgeoning workload.
6. Entrepreneurs need to be rich to get started.
Not at all. These days all you really need is a kitchen table, a laptop and a phone (depending on the business, of course). Start small, keep the overheads low, work hard, and you’ll get rich later.
7. Entrepreneurship is fun.
Sure, the challenge can be stimulating and there is a world of contentment to be had from each and every achievement, but we wouldn’t say it’s ‘fun’. Setting up and running your own business comes with a great deal of stress, hardship and sacrifice – and that’s something you need to be prepared for going in. (But it’s totally worth it.)
8. Entrepreneurs are risk takers.
We’d probably like this to be true, as it makes us seem cool and dangerous. But really we’re all about making and taking legitimate opportunities. We became entrepreneurs because we believe there is a gap in the market that we can fill. It was a calculated leap. And when it comes to our own business, you’ll find there will be far more calculated leaps than blind risks down the track.
9. You’ll get immediate returns.
Oh we wish. But customers and clients are hardly waiting around to throw money at us. It’s going to take a lot of commitment up front before you start seeing any money rolling in – but put in the hard yards and it WILL appear at some point.
10. You have to work all hours of the day and night FOREVER
We’re happy to confirm this is bunkum. Or at least, you don’t HAVE to work all hours of the day and night to be a successful entrepreneur. Working for yourself (as much as you can – see 4) means you can operate how and when you want, as long as this fits with the business that you’re running. There may be a little 24/7 stress to get things moving, but once you’re in a profitable routine you’ll find that a healthy work/life balance can be found.