Insights
5 Common Myths About Entrepreneurship
August 8, 2015

Uninformed optimism…

It’s the first stage of entrepreneurship.

It’s where we have it all figured out. Where unbridled passion, supreme confidence and raw enthusiasm all meet.

We’ve got a great idea. It’s going to work! It’s going to be huge! The people are going to love it! The people are going to buy it! We’re going to make so much money! We outchea!

Uninformed indeed.

This stage is short-lived. It’s based on a lack of information and typically relate to false perceptions of this path.

Below are 5 common myths about entrepreneurship I hear the most frequently. Time to debunk and do some informing!


If you build it they will come!

lesson1
Everyone is an entrepreneur today. How will you succeed in an oversaturated industry?

Right now it’s easier than ever before to be an entrepreneur and transversely also harder than ever before. We are oversaturated with abundance of every variation of every product and service you can think of. Traditional business models are also crumbling each day.

“Uber, the world’s largest taxi company, owns no vehicles. Facebook, the world’s most popular media owner, creates no content. Alibaba, the most valuable retailer, has no inventory. Airbnb, the world’s largest accommodation provider, owns no real estate.”

In this era, having the smartest, coolest, sexiest most promising idea is simply not enough anymore. Because of sheer numbers and the rate of growth and change your amazing idea is no longer enough. Providing a great product versus marketing and selling it are very different challenges.

Build to solve a problem. Build to address a specific audience. Build to add value to those who believe in the same things as you.

And maybe then they’ll come. But probably not.

Pivot, test, pivot again. Gain more insights.

And just maybe, it’ll come together.


We’re going to get 1% market share!

90% of the pitches I hear start with something like this:

Based on our research our market has an audience of 10 million. We believe we can very easily convert 1% of those (such a small number!) Those 100,000 users will pay $10 a month in subscription fees (growing). That’s $1 Million! We’ve made it (the big bucks)!

You aren’t getting 1% of this pie…
You aren’t getting 1% of this pie…

This is the worst way of approaching your business model. That 1% is damn near impossible.

Determine your users and their behaviours. Address their needs specifically. Don’t go after the entire market. If business was that easy someone bigger and better than you would have scooped them up by now. Focus on the value you can give 100 people rather than what 100,000 can give you.

State the problem. State your proposed solution. State your secret sauce. Go to market and prove your value. You’ll be more pleased with what you end up with and your customers will stay loyal forever.


We just need to last 3 years

It’s commonly stated that the threshold for a business’s success is 3 years. That if you can somehow survive this long you are in the clear. Here I draw the line between being a business owner and being an entrepreneur. 2 examples to ponder on:

Sir Richard Branson

Branson has a net worth of 5 billion dollars. He has achieved that primarily through Virgin Music, Virgin Airlines, as well as 100 other less successful (sometimes epically horrible) ideas. Branson wakes each morning, not to count the interest net while he slept, but to pursue his latest venture; taking the common man to space through Virgin Galactic.

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Elon Musk

After selling PayPal for $175 million, most individuals would have retired on a private island with a tremendous mansion, exotic cars and champagne sunsets. Instead Musk re-invested every penny (save for a McLaren F1) into 2 new, world-changing ventures. Changing the way we view transportation with Tesla and realizing the opportunity for interplanetary existence with SpaceX.

That’s what entrepreneurs do.

Gear up for the next 10mile leg of the race. 3 years, 10 years have no bearing on success of level of commitment. They just keep pursuing.

This is a journey not a race. There is no end game or finish line. It’s about continual impact one can make.


Freedom!

“I hate working a 9 to 5. I hate my boss! I’m not made to be an employee! I’ll just be my own boss!”

Is freedom overrated?
Is freedom overrated?

Too many individuals think that because they don’t like working for others that they are set to become entrepreneurs. The perception is that entrepreneurship will allow for freedom of time, responsibilities and creativity.

The truth? You are changing in one cell for another.

Gone are the days of 9 to 5. You clock in when you wake up, you clock out when you fall asleep, and you put in overtime in your dreams. As cliche as it sounds your new career is 24/7/365. There aren’t any days off. This is your new obsession and it owns all of your time, money and brain power. You just gave up working 40 hours to work 80/100 hours a week!

Hate having a boss? Well now your customers, suppliers, creditors and all surrounding stakeholders will be your new bosses! And they are even more difficult to please than the crazy guy down the hall.

Being your own boss means being more than the CEO. You are the accountant, HR, marketing, sales, admin, secretary, driver, legal department, coffee maker and everything thing else in between.

Working on a business will always always, always be more stressful, consuming and difficult than being an employee. Your problems with authority aren’t the same as unbridled fire to create and change the world.

Flexibility and autonomy? Yes! Freedom, not so much.

Use the right motivation.


Show me the money!

I want to be rich! So I started this business.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OaiSHcHM0PA

Hehe. I’m sorry to laugh. Really.

Starting a business for the sole purpose of making buckets of money is a sure fire way to be disappointed and end up back in corporate in a flash.

Don’t let the current boom and rise of billion dollar valued tech startups fool you! Don’t be confused by news of VCs, angel investors and Dragons Den! There is no fact-based evidence than entrepreneurs make more money than their employed counterparts.

Risks are higher and rewards may be greater. However, those rewards are few and far between.

Every single entrepreneur I have befriended, partnered or consulted has one thing in common: they have sacrificed a payday for 6, 12, 18 months in order to build their brands. This is the hard reality.

Don’t start touring the car lot just yet, breaking even is what success looks like for budding businesses.


There are a lot of misconceptions and false knowledge out there about being an entrepreneur. Unfortunately, there is no rule book or instruction manual on how to do it. Check out a recent post I wrote, Becoming an Entrepreneur — The Hard Truths to gain more insight into what this journey is all about. Hard but rewarding!

If you enjoyed the post, please let me know!

Be sure to check out some other recent posts I have written:

– Entrepreneurial Lessons from a New Father

– The Lost Art of the 30 Second Pitch

– The Power of Vulnerability: Success From Honestly Telling Your Story

– Uninformed Optimism — The Challenge with Certainty in Entrepreneurship

Feel free to also follow me on Twitter and Instagram or email me on mushambi@opportunetime.co

For more insights, rants and motivation tune into our weekly radio show, The Opportune Time, telling the stories of Joburg’s entrepreneurs, Wednesday 4–6pm CAT on jozimabonengradio.co.za.

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