When looked on from the outside, the world of entrepreneurship seems like a strange land, filled with venture capitalists, angel investors and out-of-this-world thinking.
There are many standing on the outside, longing to get in or thinking they want to get in. The way entrepreneurship is portrayed and what it really entails are two very different things. There are so many myths floating around about what an entrepreneur is or should be as well as what it takes to succeed as one. Some of these are half-truths while some are completely false. This one is for you, standing on the outside, wondering if you dare take a step into what seems like thin air. Here’s a breakdown of the most common myths about becoming an entrepreneur.
A common misconception is that when you found a start-up, your personal life goes for a toss. While starting out on your own means longer hours and way more work, it does not mean that you work every second. You’re human after all. There is only so much work you can handle, both mentally and physically. The start-up becomes like your child, one that comes home with you from work. When you are excited about an idea, you can get caught up and forget that your body and brain need to switch off and rest. While your work is bound to come home with you, the trick is to learn when to stop and take a breath.
As part of the fantasy idea of entrepreneurship, comes the idea that it is a large throw of the dice. People think that start-up founders are big risk takers who throw money at clouds. The opposite is often true. We all know that gambling is terrible path to go down. When you say gambler, the first image is that of someone who is desperate, begging the fates for a result that gives him the money to pay a loan shark. The entrepreneur is the exact opposite. Yes, they do take risks, but only after they have thought it through from every angle and have a backup plan. Desperation does not make an entrepreneur. It is clear, careful decision-making, based on an intelligent though process. Simply put, if a risk you’re thinking of taking is definitely going to take you down if it goes bad, don’t do it. Monetary loss is okay, up to a point; you just need to be sure that you do have something left to stand on.
Another myth is that all entrepreneurs are after the big bucks. While, money is obviously a motivating factor, most successful businesses have come from focusing on doing something for people. What I mean by this is that innovators have become successful from doing their best, not to make money, but to create something that is useful for people, whether it is business people or the common man. Obviously, we all seek a certain level of comfort in our lives. We all like to be able to provide for ourselves and our families well. That makes money a factor, but not THE factor. The biggest factor varies from start-up to start-up. From leaving a legacy to changing the world, there are many other factors other than money. In simpler terms, it’s not about owning the Rolls Royce, it’s about creating something that is on the same level as the Rolls Royce in the field of your choice.
Most people assume that it is ONLY new ideas that allow you into the hallowed halls of entrepreneurship. This is not true. You can take an old idea, add your own touches and make it work. The business world is full of examples of people who were not the original innovators. They took someone else’s basic idea and created their own product from it. They were so successful that the original creators of the product have long been forgotten because of the way the new guys transformed an already-thought-of idea. You’re allowed to use old ideas, just make sure you are legally in the right and that your take on the old is laced with something that gives you an edge.
To raise money for a start-up, you need a venture capitalist or if not that, you need an angel investor. This is one of those partially true myths. These are two of the options you have but these are NOT your only options. You can save up by using a fixed/recurring deposit. You can borrow from friends and family. You can ask the bank for a loan. You can use crowd funding. The list is long. Don’t give up on your dreams because you think that getting the money is too complicated. It can be simpler than you think.
Is it necessary to have been born into a business family? Is it necessary to have been born with certain skills? Is it necessary to have a complete college education? These are difficult questions with no fixed answer. It is completely subjective and depends on the person. Not everyone can be an entrepreneur. It takes a level of determination and stubbornness to fight for what you believe in. But becoming a success is a product of multiple factors. You may have the education and the determination, but not the resources. You may have a great idea but you may not have the drive to get it off the ground and that is okay. For all these sort of factors, never take an extreme as an answer. You can be a college dropout, from a family who’s never even considered business but you can still make it. It’s on you.
We have all have this image in our heads of what an entrepreneur looks like. A young man/woman in formal clothes, off to take over the world. While it is always good to start early, it is never too late to dream. Most successful venture these days are from people who are past their youth and who have learnt from experience and know what it takes to get an idea off the ground. There are also those who have made significant contributions at the age of retirement, when everyone had written them off. Age is just a number. Don’t let it stop you from making your dream into reality.
When we look at a success story, what we see is the nice parts. We see the end of the struggle. What we don’t see is the sweat, tears and pain that has gone into the story. It is very easy to assume that failure is not encountered while starting a successful venture. But this is not true. Failure becomes a part of your success. It teaches you from your mistakes and makes you stronger. There are bumps in every road and falls in every climb. It is how you react that defines you. If you’ve made the jump to become an entrepreneur and failed. Don’t give up. Failure is not the end. It is just another beginning.
A common idea while wanting to quit a standard job is that you don’t like authority. Don’t use this as a reason to become an entrepreneur. While you may get to define your timings and dress code, you become responsible for your staff. You are also held accountable with investors, customers, creditors, suppliers and more. You end up having many other types of bosses who will not be as easy-to-please as the current corporate boss that you dislike. As Shakespeare put it, “Uneasy is the head that wears the crown,” which in this case translates to you may like the idea of being the boss but that is not a reason enough to become an entrepreneur.
Success makes people complacent and makes them forget the bigger picture. Many start-up founders assume that once they have raised a large amount of money, they are set for the rest of their lives. Financial backing does not imply success. It is a step in the right direction but there is a lot more work that needs doing. There are so many other factors that decide what happens to your start-up. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that a single goal equals victory when the game is not even close to being over. It is of course commendable that you’ve raised funds, but always remember how quickly all those zeroes can become singular. Always remember to treat and spend the investor’s money as your own. The world goes around and karma is a bitch, it will bite you when you least expect it.
In conclusion, entrepreneurship is no walk in the park. It is difficult and full of trials but the rewards are completely worth the struggle. As with all things in this world, there are many misconceptions and myths about the road to success, especially in the field of start-ups. The best way to avoid being fooled is to research. Read, read and read more. Find out for yourself whether something is true, rather than believing hearsay. The one thing that can be said for sure about being an entrepreneur, is that you should only get it into it, if you’re sure. It is not meant for the weak of heart. That being said, your path is your own. No one else can walk it for you. If it is what you want, then no scary article or quote should stop you.
Rajh is a serial entrepreneur with ventures in knowledge process outsourcing, hospitality, retail, IT and e-commerce. He has over 25 years of corporate experience and expertise in key roles of leadership, strategy, planning & management. Rajh is especially skilled at developing new profit centers within scheduled timelines and costs while ensuring operational efficiencies through long-term strategic planning. His core expertise includes delivering customized and cost-effective solutions to meet the operational and financial goals of the organization and its stakeholders. Rajh holds an MBA in Marketing from the University of Mumbai.