You’re going to hear tons of solicited and unsolicited advice when you announce your intention to become an entrepreneur. Just be sure you don’t fall for three common myths about startup ownership and leadership.
Serial entrepreneurs never forget their first leaps. Though the experience can be exhilarating, it’s also fraught with risks. That’s why many wait until the last second to quit their full-time jobs. Having a steady income for as long as possible allows them to build up a monetary safety net. Yet they need another type of safety net as well: Straight answers about what to expect.
Unfortunately, real-world advice can be hard to come by when you’re planning to start a company. Oh, you’ll get tips and hints galore. The problem is, you’re often being fed half-truths or misinformation by well-meaning family members, friends, and the occasional stranger. This leaves you with an incorrect perception and presumption of what’s “supposed” to happen. And if you end up taking steps based on myths rather than facts, your path to entrepreneurship could have an abrupt end.
Not to worry, though. Many people—myself included—are nothing less than straight shooters. We’re happy to lay out the good, bad, and ugly. We’re also thrilled to debunk the most common misconceptions related to becoming your own boss. Below are three fallacies that should be put to bed at once.
Myth 1: “You have to have all of the answers figured out before starting.”
It’s impossible to figure out where or why this sentiment arose. The smartest person in the world doesn’t possess all the answers for every question. All-knowing oracles like those described in Greek legends simply don’t exist.
One of the biggest gifts you can leverage as a startup leader is your ignorance. Serial entrepreneur Marcus Lemonis agrees: “My number one asset is vulnerability. If you can be more vulnerable and more human, I’m telling you that you will do more business.”
When you don’t know how to do something, finding someone who does makes a lot of sense. That might be a mentor, a colleague, or someone you’re friends with on LinkedIn. Asking for clarity and assistance shows you’re self-aware of your limitations. It allows you to learn from others’ experiences and viewpoints, too. Never underestimate how powerful it can be to be able to see a problem (and its possible solutions) from multiple angles.
Myth 2: “You don’t need passion. You only need to fill a gap in the market.”
The idea of leaving behind a dependable income for a role that doesn’t excite you makes little sense. However, many entrepreneurs have decided to start businesses just to fill needs. Take Johanna Buchweitz, founder of Frankly Co., an online community for female entrepreneurs. Buchweitz admits that she’s made the mistake of launching a business for which she had no real enthusiasm—and she doesn’t advise anyone else follow suit.
“The first company I created was a platform for content creators that allowed them to easily create and monetize their content,” Buchweitz notes. “Each challenge I encountered felt like pushing a boulder up a mountain. On the flip side, my current company combines my passion with a gap in the market. Challenges feel more like pushing furniture through an ice rink. Problem-solving becomes fun, and I’m able to see it as an exciting learning opportunity as opposed to another detriment to company growth.”
Buchweitz’s experiences were recently held up in a study conducted by researchers from the United States and Canada. The study discovered that passion influences the choices that people make. When they’re passionate about a goal, their intrinsically high motivation led them to act more proactively and pragmatically.
If you’re not 100% sure that a company you’re about to birth is something you feel great about, pausing makes sense. Reflect on why you’re taking this step. It’s okay to put the brakes on one business so you can pivot yourself toward another one that will stimulate your interests.
Myth 3: “If you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life.”
It might have been Mark Twain who coined this oft-mentioned statement. Or was it Marc Anthony? Maybe someone else? Regardless of who first made this observation, the observer was slightly off-base.
You can love your work, be passionate about your business, feel totally ecstatic and still have stressful days when you want to throw the towel in. That’s because being an entrepreneur is hard work. Most founders make tremendous sacrifices. They get up in the wee hours of the morning. They forgo vacations. They fill in for employees who get sick, take leave, or quit. It’s not glamorous.
Harsha L’Acqua (formerly Chanrai), founder of Saira Hospitality, hit the nail on the head when she deconstructed the true 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 only by choice, but by necessity. You will be the one that drives your own success, and you will need to find the motivation to make it happen, which requires work—a lot of it.”
That doesn’t mean being a business owner can’t be fun. It can be and it should be. At the same time, it can be demanding. All your commitments can wear you down, not to mention nagging worries related to your financial situation. Your best bet is to accept these facts at the beginning and find ways to carve out a little “you time,” whether that means going to the gym at 5 a.m. or putting away all your devices during dinner. You’ll feel more rested and recharged for the work (yes, work) ahead.
Still think that the startup life sounds perfect? You probably have the temperament and desire of a serial entrepreneur. The only way to earn that badge? Get out there and build up your dream business. Just make sure you avoid falling for the startup myths you hear along the way.