If you read popular entrepreneur publications, use social media, or watch the news, you’ve probably heard (and possibly believed) one, if not several, entrepreneurship myths.
Most young entrepreneurs lack the years of experience to realize some of the entrepreneurial advice they’re given is completely false. And often, well-meaning seasoned professionals share this false advice without realizing the damage it can cause.
To be a successful entrepreneur, you need to be able to tell facts from fiction – whether you’re assessing data, a business opportunity, or in this case, entrepreneurship myths. Here are 5 such myths that might be holding you back from starting or building the business of your dreams.
Myth #1: Pursue Your Passion
The word passion is defined as “intense, barely controllable enthusiasm.” Therefore, when you’re advised to pursue your passion, you’re essentially being told you should only pursue ideas that make you so excited you can barely contain your emotions. This couldn’t be farther from the truth. Thousands of successful entrepreneurs not only started companies they couldn’t care less about, some even started companies in subject matters they knew nothing about.
Myth #2: Investment Equals Success
Because so many startups make headlines for securing millions of dollars in investments, it’s a common misconception that raising money equals success. What rarely makes headlines are the startups who’ve received millions in funding but are operating at a deficit, meaning they’re in debt. But wait, you might ask, how can you be in debt if you’ve been given millions of dollars? Just like living paycheck to paycheck, some startups borrow more money than they’re making from actual paying customers. If they never reverse this cycle, their business goes under.
Myth #3: You Have to Build Something Techy or Innovative
A lot of would-be entrepreneurs rack their brains trying to figure out how to build the next iPhone or Facebook for the mid 21st century. There are actually two myths at play here. The first myth being neither the iPhone nor Facebook is a completely original idea. In fact, the first touch screen was actually invented by radar engineer Eric Arthur Johnson in the 1960s. As for Facebook, there were several other social media platforms before it. The second myth is that the tech industry is the only path to extreme financial success. However, there are a variety of billion-dollar non-tech companies in industries like transportation, manufacturing, and consulting.
Myth #4: If You Haven’t Built a Successful Company by the Time You’re 25 You Never Will
Again, due to oversaturated news stories, a lot of people believe that if you don’t make a name for yourself before your mid-twenties, you may as well give up. This couldn’t be farther from the truth. Whether you have dreams of becoming a successful actor, musician, or an entrepreneur, people of all ages – from grade school to old-school – are creating incredible opportunities for themselves. Remember, most media publications need sensational stories to stay relevant (e.g. bring in viewers and advertising). That means they look for out-of-the-ordinary events to highlight. But the fact of the matter is thousands of people, both older and younger, start businesses every day.
Myth #5: Money Equals Success/Happiness
What do Aaron Schwartz, co-founder of Reddit; Kate Spade, fashion designer; and Austen Heinz, founder of Cambrian Genomics have in common? One devastating fact. All three of these incredible entrepreneurs took their own lives. A study by UCSF clinical professor, Dr. Michael Freeman, found that depression affects 30% of all entrepreneurs. He also found that over 70% of entrepreneurs have mental health issues in their family. “A founder who has no history of mental illness from a family with no history either is the exception, not the rule,” said Freeman. True success is contentment; being satisfied with and untroubled by your achievements. If you’re unhappy, envious, depressed, or anxious as you strive for greatness, no amount of money is going to solve these deep-seated issues. Purpose and peace are greater than profit.
Unfortunately, there is no Entrepreneur Bible with all of the answers. Even successful first-time founders have failed when trying to start second or third companies. Sometimes the best predictor of entrepreneurial success is good ol’ fashioned experience and hindsight.
While mentors, professors, colleagues, and other entrepreneurs can be helpful, they aren’t crystal balls. Ignore these entrepreneurial myths and don’t let sensational headlines, well-intentioned advice, another person’s personal experience, or even your own doubts hold you back from pursuing your next business idea.