Entrepreneurship is trendy right now which is a good thing. As an entrepreneur myself, I’m always happy to share why starting your own business is such a great thing.
However, I’ve noticed that sometimes people form assumptions about growing a business that are off the mark. These myths create unrealistic expectations about what goes into starting a business which ultimately causes many people get frustrated and quit.
The truth is that no one can really prepare you for all the work and effort that goes into starting your own business. Your journey will be your own. But at the very least I can banish a few of the most common myths I have encountered over the years, so these don’t impede your progress.
You’ll Have More Free Time
Ask any self-described entrepreneur what made them want to start their own business and many of them will say they wanted more free time. In fact, just recently we had an employee decide to strike out on his own so that he would have more time to go on missions with his church.
Knowing what I do about the hours I put into my business, this makes me cringe. But who can blame them? Plugging away at a traditional 9-5 job doesn’t seem that sexy to most people anymore. Internet success stories have many people convinced that starting their own business is the key to “time freedom.”
What many people don’t understand is that when you work in a 9-5, you get paid regardless of how well your company is doing. This is not the case when you run your own business.
Once you’re the boss, you are your own cheapest source of labor, so you’ll pile in as many hours as possible to try to create a paycheck for yourself. When ends don’t meet, it’s your own paycheck that gets shorted. This is why so many new business owners work very long days and even weekends during the startup phase of building their business.
I’m 13 years in and I regularly put in 60 hours a week, but that’s nothing compared to the time I sunk in during the first five years. Plan for several years of hard labor in your business before any time freedom develops.
As your business grows and you are able hire employees and delegate work, then you may find yourself with a more flexible schedule. That could be years down the road though, so it’s important to ask yourself if you are willing to make that commitment during your early years.
You might find these 45 small business resolutions from business owner enlightening.
You Have to Hustle Constantly
On the opposite end of the spectrum, there are many people buying into the notion of hustle these days. You have to work 24/7 to find success, right?
Working hard doesn’t mean you stop caring about your family or ignore your mental or physical well-being. Even Gary Vaynerchuk emphasizes the importance of eight hours of sleep and giving yourself time to rest.
Being a business owner means you are going to have to make important decisions. Those decisions will be a lot easier if you are thinking clearly because you are getting enough sleep. Hard work is admirable but working yourself to the point of total exhaustion isn’t.
So look at your life as it is right now: job, hobbies, friends, family, responsibilities. Where can you carve out the necessary time for business and still create some balance in your life?
All You Need is a Great Idea
Someone once told me they had a great idea for a new app. When I asked them what it was, they lowered their voice and said, “I’ll tell you but promise me you won’t steal it.”
Most people think that the key to starting a successful business is coming up with a great idea. The truth is, great ideas are a dime a dozen.
The average Joe could probably come up with 10 great business ideas with relatively little effort. The question is whether he can execute on any of those ideas. Sometimes proven business models are the least risky bet because there is a proven path to success that others can follow.
Look at me my own career as an insurance agent. I love helping people, so this career really suits me, but it certainly wasn’t an earth-shattering new idea. There have been millions of others who have gone down this path before me. Some succeed and more fail, but in choosing this model, I only needed to have confidence in my own ethic, so it was an easy choice. You can read more about it here if you’d like to explore it yourself.
The truth is that just because you love your idea doesn’t mean that there is an actual need for it in the marketplace. Ask yourself whether this is an idea that other people can get behind. Get opinions from other business owners that you know and respect. Consider testing it as a side gig before you quit your 9 to 5.
Big Risks Will Result in Big Rewards
It’s understandable how this myth got started. Heck, if you look up the word “entrepreneur” in the dictionary, it is described as someone who takes on greater than normal amounts of risk.
Entrepreneurship does involve a certain about of risk, but the key is to take calculated risks. Entrepreneurs look for situations where the odds are in their favor and where they can influence the outcome somehow.
They don’t gamble away their life savings or their children’s college fund on the blind hope that a business idea will pan out. Sit down with your financial planner and determine how much you can spare to start a business without compromising other goals that you and your family have set for your future.
So, there are four of the most common myths that I hear from potential startups. For 105 other business myths, check out this article on the Business Unplugged blog.
Of course, this list is by no means all-inclusive. Do you have a favorite myth about entrepreneurship that you’d like to expel? Leave your thoughts in the comments.