How many people are trying to start a business in the world every day?

a) 10 million
b) 50 million
c) 100 million

Answer? No on really knows. However, according to this researcher, he’s pegging it at

World wide, there are about 300 million persons trying to start about 150 million businesses. About one third will be launched, so you can assume 50 million new firm births per year. Or about 137,000 per day. As firm birth and death rates are about equal, the same number of active firms, say 120,000 probably terminate trading each day–world wide. This is the only source of comparative data on start-up and closure activity internationally. You can find some data for the US on the SBA, Office of Advocacy website, but for most countries, the figures either do not exist or are not compiled.

Now imagine 137k+ (and rising) startups and their founders looking for information, particularly on motivational stuff.

What percentage of them come across the same “conventional wisdoms” that we’ve ALL heard as newbie entrepreneurs.

Follow your passion… write a business plan… go get fancy business cards… get a website, etc etc.

And of course… the LAST thing on that list is find out if people actually will pay you MONEY for your product or service.

I’m not gonna lie: I fell for the same myths that we’ve ALL fallen for. If I could go back in time, I would slap some sense into my younger but more motivated self.

Why do these myths still exist? I dunno. Maybe they want to sell you something. Maybe these myths are told un-intentionally. Maybe people want to believe them.

Here are more subtle myths that even 5-10 year veterans still trip on (including me).


1) “Successful People Don’t Sleep”

Sleep, sleep is for those people who are broke. I don’t sleep.

-50 Cent

The woods are lovely, dark and deep. But I have promises to keep, and miles to go before I sleep.

-Robert Frost

You sleep six hours and have 18 hours left. Now, I know there are some of you out there that say well, wait a minute, I sleep eight hours or nine hours. Well, then, just sleep faster, I would recommend.

– Arnold Schwarzenegger

Sleep is demonized in modern society.

Wanna be productive? Sleep less. Wanna be rich? Sleep less. Wanna be awesome? Sleep less.

Unfortunately, we’re not robots. Not everyone’s the same. These people might get good rest on 4-5 hours, but some people get their optimal rest at 6-7. And some at 10-12.

So why do we apply these “success principals” of sleep deprivation on newbie entreprneurs?

Daniel Kripke, a research scientist, said in his study that

…. people who sleep between 6.5 hr. and 7.5 hr. a night, live the longest, are happier and most productive

… Sleeping 8.5 hr. might really be a little worse than sleeping 5 hr.

Likewise, Jim Horne, one of Europe’s most acclaimed sleep experts said that recommending 8 hours of sleep to EVERYONE is:

It’s like saying everybody should have size eight shoes, or be five foot eight inches.

Just google “sleep deprivation experiment” and you’ll find plethora of intersting but depressing stories of how people’s minds went crazy.

Rememeber that you do have to understand your OWN body and what is optimal for you.


2) “Don’t Give Up”

Being an entrepreneur is not about being in love with an idea, it’s about being in love with running a company.

Max Levchin (co-founder of PayPal and Yelp)

Sometimes your idea just doesn’t work.

Bad idea. Bad timing. Bad market. Bad market targeting. Wrong pricing.

I have a friend who started his startup in 2008 doing price alerts. Basic idea is that you submit a URL for a product you’re interested in with your email, and he’ll let you know if the price drops. Monetization? Send the products as affiliate links.

Good idea? Sure.. at the time. Not to mention, what prevents ecommerce companies from doing their own price alerts? It’s so easy & simple to develop, with ZERO entry to barrier.

Yet, he’s still holding on to it as if it were going to be the next Google.

Persistent? Yes. Smart? You be the judge.

I remember watching Shark Tank episode where one of the judges said that it takes a a courageous entrepreneur to keep trying, but it takes even more courage to know when to quit and change course.

Sometimes, your idea needs to be shot in its head, and for you to move on. (And god forbid.. stop trying to “growth hack” that dead thing).

Here are some prominent companies that started out COMPLETELY different from how they got started:

  • 3M – Started out as Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Company (3 M’s, get it?)
  • Abercrombie & Fitch – started as a sporting goods shop and outfitter
  • Avon – started with door-to-door book sales
  • Colgate – started by selling soap, candles, and starch
  • Flickr – started as a chat room with real-time photo sharing for the web-based multiplayer game
  • Nintendo – playing card company
  • Nokia – paper mill
  • Wrigley – soap and baking powder
  • Samsung – dried fish, vegetables, and fruits


3) “Have No Fear”

“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.”

– Nelson Mandela

If you watch business porn routinely (i.e. business magazines), you are always surrounded with this notion that you should be fearless.

“Have no fear” is the mantra…

Take a look at this quote

I m scared to death. I m afraid. I m afraid of everything. I m afraid of losing. I m afraid of being humiliated. But I m confident. The closer I get to the ring the more confident I get. The closer, the more confident. The closer the more confident I get. All during training I ve been afraid of this man. I think this man might be capable of beating me. I ve dreamed of him beating me. For that I ve always stayed afraid of him. The closer I get to the ring the more confident I get. Once I m in the ring I m a god. No one could beat me.

Who said this?

MIKE TYSON. Probably the greatest boxer of all time.

Fear isn’t something you can just easily eradicate from your self.

It’s a form of energy, and if you remember from physics, energy cannot be destroyed or created, only transferred.

If you take (and keep taking) action, that energy is tranformed into confidence.

What other “wise” quotes about entrepreneurship have you found to be false (for you)?