Starting a business is something most people consider at one time or another. As many as 600,000 individuals per year actually follow through, though fewer than half will ever turn a profit. Many, many more will never take the leap at all, assuming that successful entrepreneurs must have something they don’t. Here are a few common myths (and realities) of entrepreneurship.
Myth: You have to be lucky to succeed
Reality: Just ask the failures. While it’s true that many successful business owners (and other successful types as well) will credit good luck to their success, they also very rarely blame their failures on bad luck. That is, if something goes awry or an idea just doesn’t work out, those who are eventually successful generally take responsibility for those failures — my assumptions were wrong, I overestimated demand, I didn’t do enough research. It is very rare for winners to consider “bad luck” a factor. The willingness to credit good luck is more likely a result of making their own luck — you do the work to improve the chances of success and luck seems to go your way!
Myth: You have to be educated to succeed
Reality: While a formal education (college) can be helpful, anyone who can and will put in the effort can learn the fundamentals of running a business. Basic skills like reading comprehension, balancing a checkbook, and evaluating options are necessary, but a four-year degree is not a requirement. There are successful entrepreneurs with all levels of education, from high school dropouts to multi-degreed PhDs. The one common factor among them is a willingness to learn all they can about the fundamentals of business and their idea in particular. Common sense is a real asset, but a semester of art history isn’t likely to make that much difference when you are running a restaurant!
Myth: You have to be a Type-A personality to succeed
Reality: There are all types of personalities filling the ranks of entrepreneurship. The reality is that a good balance of personality and perspective is best for business success. High-strung, perfectionist types can get hung up on the details, while overly laid-back folks can be unproductive. Extreme extroverts can have a hard time taking care of the tedious deskwork tasks, while very shy folks miss the opportunities that come through effective networking. Too much of anything can become a problem, and the most successful business owners either balance the needs within themselves or surround themselves with partners or staff that complement their perspectives.
Myth: You have to be a risk-taker to succeed
Reality: Obviously, starting a business comes with some inherent risk, but a significant amount of that risk can be mitigated through good research and planning before you launch. There are a million ways to bootstrap, so that your financial risk is controlled, and many business ideas can be developed in your spare time, reducing any risk to security. While there are fantastic stories of entrepreneurs taking bizarre and stomach-churning risks, not all successful businesses are run that way…not even most of them. The advantage that risk-takers have is simply that they are generally willing to crash and burn any number of times before they find success…and it doesn’t bother them. They are usually looking for a significant payoff as well. The average successful business owner isn’t likely to ever be a billionaire, but they can control their work life and make a good living.
If the idea of working for yourself is attractive to you, don’t be scared off by the untrue myths the naysayers will tell you. As long as you are willing and able to do the work to succeed, you can get where you want to go.