Do you dream of starting the next Snapchat or GrubHub? With an abundance of business success stories permeating every corner of the media, most aspiring entrepreneurs don’t get to hear about the reality of what business ownership is like for 99.99 percent of those who start a new venture.
Here are five of the most common myths -- and one really big truth-- about entrepreneurship you need to know before getting started.
1. You get to do more of what you love.
Everyone thinks that if you love to do something, you will get to do more of it when you run a business. Wrong-o.
When you run a business, you have to do and oversee so many functions -- from marketing to accounting to employees to customer service and more. At the end of the day, you actually spend less time doing whatever it is you enjoy doing. Your job as an entrepreneur is not to do one singular task, it is to run a business.
So, if you love to wear multiple hats and are excited by the idea of managing all aspects of a business, plus you think that it is a good fit for your skills and experience, you are headed in the right direction. If not, proceed with caution.
2. You get to be your own boss.
When you have a job, a handful of people have control over what you get paid, your hours, who you work with and other professional decisions. When you are a boss you have increased the number of bosses that you have exponentially because every single customer has that control. Now, you have hundreds, maybe thousands of people you need to report to, who have control over whether you get paid, when you work, etc.
And if you have lenders, investors, a landlord or a franchise parent company, well, they all have control over you, too. You have now even more people to report to than ever before -- not exactly the picture of being in control.
3. Business is about you.
We have more products and services available to us than we would ever want or need, which makes today’s entrepreneurial landscape very different than it was just 50 years ago. If there is a gap in the market that customers are desperate for a solution to and willing to pay for, that’s a darn good reason to start a business.
Remember, Ray Kroc didn’t pursue McDonald’s expansion because he was bored or unfulfilled; he did so to meet a customer need. If you want to do something all about you, seek out a hobby or maybe get a job, but don’t start a business. Successful businesses are all about serving customer needs.
4. It's easy!
There is a reason the word "scheme" usually follows the phrase “get rich quick.” Businesses take a long time to build, sometimes three years or more to even get their legs underneath them. Business ownership is not a magic bullet for financial security and you should be prepared to be in it for the long haul. It’s called “work” for a reason.
5. 'You can' means the same thing as 'you should.'
Just because you can do something, doesn’t mean that you should, that you will be successful, or that it is the best choice for you given your goals, circumstances and opportunities. You have to look at the rewards of your opportunity and see if they justify the risks -- both financial and qualitative risks.
Far too many people trade their salary and risk their savings for an opportunity where they are making the same or less money, working more hours and have more stress. In the game-show world, they call that trade a “zonk.” Don’t get zonked. Make sure that the risk-reward tradeoff makes sense for you and that you have the opportunity to significantly improve upon your current situation or do better than other situations that could be available to you.
And one REALLY BIG truth: The rule of '3.'
This is my way of cheating -- rolling three “truths” into one -- but go with me here. Here’s what you can take to the bank: Everything is going to take three times longer than it should to complete (your legal contracts, getting revenue, getting your website up, you name it), will cost three times what you have budgeted and will be three times more difficult to execute than you expect.
Even if you think you are being conservative or realistic, you probably are underestimating the time, money and effort required to make your business a success.
Entrepreneurship is not for the faint of heart, so make sure to proceed with your eyes wide open and a reality check on what you are getting into before you make that leap.