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The idea of becoming an entrepreneur appeals to many people, but dreams are often shattered due to misconceptions and myths. Bad advice from unqualified people, categorical assumptions and inaccuracies in the media can all prevent someone from getting into the entrepreneurial fray.
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Here are five myths you can take away immediately to become an entrepreneur.
1. You must have been born an entrepreneur.
While many entrepreneurs are born of their mission, it is not a prerequisite. I knew that entrepreneurship was my path from an early age because my father played a huge role in encouraging me to start my own business.
However, there are also many successful entrepreneurs who leave the corporate world and a traditional life of 9 to 5 years to become successful entrepreneurs. You just need the courage to take the leap and the tenacity to face the ups and downs until you accomplish what you expected to do.
There are so many resources available to aspiring entrepreneurs – local meetings, entrepreneurial groups, even co-working spaces – all there to help anyone succeed if they are ready to work.
2. You need a lot of money to start a business (don’t worry: investors beg to give it to you).
While having the chance to have endless capital to start a business is never a bad thing, it is not necessary. If the start-up capital is minimal, you will have to start your growth, because investors’ money is not as abundant as the media likes to represent it. The reality of investor money is that less than 1% of startups mobilize venture capital.
Startup can therefore mean slower growth than desired, but look at the advantages:
- You keep 100% of the equity.
- You can make decisions in a fraction of a second without asking for board approval.
- Your business is really your business.
I started growing my own business and, while extremely difficult, my efforts were also extremely rewarding. The lessons you learn along the way are priceless and will make you a better entrepreneur.
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3. You need a completely unique idea to be successful.
Sometimes the most successful ideas involve slight adjustments to an existing product or service. You don’t necessarily have to reinvent the wheel – you just have to make it better.
Look at Uber, for example. Taxis have always existed and are something our culture uses day after day. Uber has not reinvented transportation; it just made transportation more convenient.
If Uber had never been created, people would still use traditional taxis to get around cities. With Uber pictured, consumers now have a choice: greet a traditional taxi that can smell like a urinal (hopefully not), or use the convenient Uber app and enjoy a very likely enjoyable ride.
Your idea doesn’t have to be unique, but it has to be better than any other option on the market.
4. You must be a reckless “all inclusive” risk taker.
You will often hear of entrepreneurs who have taken out a second mortgage on their home or exhausted the funds of their 401 (K) and children to start their business. The media love these stories because they add the element of risk and uncertainty to a story otherwise cut to pieces.
Being an entrepreneur doesn’t have to reflect a night of betting on red or black at the roulette table. Develop your plan to be perfectly comfortable with your level of risk. If that means continuing to work on your concert from 9 to 5 while working on your business in the evening, too bad.
5. You must be well connected.
Do the connections and “who you know” help you? Sure they do, but don’t let a lack of business contacts keep you from pursuing your entrepreneurial dreams. Contacts alone will not succeed equally – a lazy entrepreneur with contacts will be beaten every time by someone with a better work ethic, regardless of these connections.
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If a specific contact will have a significant impact on the success of your business, then start opening the doors for this introduction to happen. I have built invaluable connections through cold email, conference networking and the use of social media. Sometimes accessing someone’s radar requires smart relationship hacking, but a determined entrepreneur will find a way to do it.