Q. What do you consider to be the most common misconception about entrepreneurship?
The following answers are provided by the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only nonprofit organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. The YEC promotes entrepreneurship as a solution to unemployment and underemployment and provides entrepreneurs with access to tools, mentorship, and resources that support each stage of their business’s development and growth.
A. You’re Born with It!
Many people believe that you are a born entrepreneur, which is true for many people, but that does not discount those who were not born with the business skills or desires. Great entrepreneurs are made through nurture, not through nature. If you are passionate and have a great idea, you too can become an entrepreneur as long as you never quit and see your idea through to the end.
A. You Need to Be Niche
Entrepreneurs always worry about finding an incredible differentiation point so they can outwit and outsmart their competitors all the time. The fact is, a niche does not guarantee success and it won’t save your company from failure either. Businesses should be built if they will offer a valuable product or service at a reasonable price.
A. How Old Are You?
Outside of Silicon Valley and a few other highly entrepreneurial areas, most people don’t believe that it’s possible to start a business at any age—whether it be an eBay selling business as a teen or a full blown startup during high school. With the Internet, anything is possible, no matter what age you are and no matter where you’re located in the world.
A. You Have Unlimited Confidence
It’s natural to doubt when it comes to promoting your business, new programs or yourself as an expert. Entrepreneurship is about getting out there and doing it anyway, even if the fear, worry and doubts outweigh your confidence.
A. You’re an Overnight Success!
A debilitating mindset I see is that overnight success is possible. These young entrepreneurs are inspired to start their own business by witnessing individuals that are CURRENTLY successful. They study the success story instead of the origin of that success story, which often includes massive struggle prior to the breakthrough. Truth is, it takes ten years to become an overnight success.
A. It’s All about the Idea
I regularly receive calls from friends who have the next “big idea.” But they call it quits when it comes time to really start building something. The truth is that entrepreneurship is 10 percent idea and 90 percent execution. Most entrepreneurs’ ideas change and evolve over time, but their success comes from being able to execute on their vision and make adjustments as necessary.
A. You Make Your Own Hours
I’ve lost count of the number of times people have told me how great it must be for me because, as the owner, I get to make my own hours. What they don’t realize is that since it’s your business, it’s incredibly difficult to ever turn it off—something I’m personally trying to work on. You are thinking about a thousand different things and are therefore always working.
Justin Beegel, Infographic World, Inc.
A. You’re Sexy, Rich and Taking over the World
Entrepreneurship is not always sexy, entrepreneurs aren’t instantly rich and they aren’t always in it to take over the world. Sometimes they go from meeting with a client to cleaning the bathroom because it’s ALL their responsibility. Sometimes they don’t take paychecks for years and sometimes, they don’t want to change the whole world—just improve their industry or make their mark.
A. You’ve Gotta Risk It All
Many people think starting a business is extremely risky. It doesn’t have to be. The best entrepreneurs I know are extremely risk averse, testing everything to make sure they’re making the best decisions. It’s much more risky to be dependent on one company to give you a “corporate allowance” each month, which can end at any moment. That’s risky.
A. You Work All the Time
There are two types of entrepreneurs. There are the hard-working founders that live to work and work to live. They are constantly at the office changing the world. That’s great, but it doesn’t apply to all entrepreneurs. Others start businesses to experience the opposite effect. They want more freedom and want to work less. This type of person has been called a “lifestyle entrepreneur.”
A. You’re the Next Zuckerberg
Mainstream people think that entrepreneurs are like Mark Zuckerburg, Steve Jobs or other tech giants. In reality, the vast majority of entrepreneurs went to college, got started later in life and are not geniuses. They come in all shapes and sizes, just like their businesses do.
A. Debt Is Absolutely Necessary
I’m tired of seeing entrepreneurs preach that you’re not passionate about your idea unless you’re willing to give up everything for it. Plenty of people start successful business without ever going into debt. We’ve always run our business as a blend between consulting and software. The consulting made us profitable from day one, which has given us the resources and time to build out the software.
A. You’re Gonna Make It on Your Own
Starting a business by yourself is a recipe for failure. Too many cooks in the kitchen is no good, but you have to find that a partner in whom you believe. Your partner will help you fight those inevitable fires, help you celebrate the little “wins” and generally keep you sane. A partner will also make sure that the company thrives if you ever need to take a day—or even just a few hours—off.
A. You Can Still Separate Personal from Professional
When you become an entrepreneur, your business and success become an obsession. You can’t just turn off your brain when you come home from work, an idea that requires quick action can happen at any time (while sleeping, in the shower). There is no wall separating your personal life and work. But don’t worry, it’s still fun!