A wise man once said…
The future belongs to those who learn more skills and combine them in creative ways.
This is especially true when developing your entrepreneur skills.
As you develop your entrepreneurial skills, you become more aware of what works and what does not.
You become an expert at separating entrepreneur myths from entrepreneurial fact.
Entrepreneur Skills | The Myths and Realities Of Being An Entrepreneur
In this article, we focus primarily on
The 17 Entrepreneurial Myths That Are Holding You Back
Plus as a bonus, we are including a primer on the 17 essential entrepreneur skills every entrepreneur must develop.
The most successful entrepreneurs have an uncanny ability to separate fact (reality) from fiction (myths).
They challenge the entrepreneurial myths!
They are the mavericks!
17 Entrepreneur Myths Pretending To Be Entrepreneurial Fact!
Entrepreneur Myth #1: You Need A Good Education To Be An Entrepreneur
This depends on your definition of a good education.
Many of the successful entrepreneurs I know attended the School Of Hard Knocks (AKA The University of Life)
And most do not have a college degree.
Entrepreneurs like Bill Gates, Richard Branson, Michael Dell, and Mark Zuckerberg* all “failed” to get degrees.
A successful entrepreneur needs courage, determination, and initiative above a formal education.
Not that a good education is a bad thing.
It is of course a good thing.
Sometimes it is what we don’t know that allows us to have the courage to give entrepreneurship a try.
Successful entrepreneurs (no matter what their level of education) are continuous learners.
Henry Ford, who had little interest in school and was a poor student (and never learned to spell or to read well) put it this way…
Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young. The greatest thing in life is to keep your mind young.
Education does not end at school, college or university.
*Harvard University has now given an honorary degree to Mark Zuckerberg. Indeed, it is not unusual for very successful entrepreneurs to receive honorary degrees.
Entrepreneur Myth #2: Anyone can be an Entrepreneur.
Surely anyone can be an entrepreneur?
This is an oversimplification. (and often a put-down of entrepreneurship!)
Not everyone will want to be an entrepreneur. And not everyone should be an entrepreneur.
Being an entrepreneur is an important role in society, but so are lots of other roles. And perhaps some of these other roles are more important.
Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) has found that there are over 582 million individuals in the world (7.3%) who own or are starting a business.
Entrepreneurial success depends on the fact that would-be entrepreneurs need to spot opportunities they can convert to interesting business propositions.
The 2019 GEM research shows that Japan has the lowest share of adults looking to start a business at around one in 10.
While almost nine out of 10 adults in Poland and eight out of 10 in Sweden and India are actively seeking business opportunities.
Entrepreneur Myth #3: A Great Product Will Always Succeed
Build a better mousetrap, and the world will beat a path to your door.
The theory is great, but the reality is different.
Here are 25 examples of some of the biggest product failures in history from some of the world’s biggest companies. In each instance, these companies thought they had a better product.
The Ford Edsel car from 1957 is an often-quoted example.
Tagline – “It acts the way it looks, but it doesn’t cost that much”
Ford invested over $400 million in making and launching the car, but Americans weren’t buying it, because they wanted “smaller, more economic vehicles,” according to Associated Content.
The other often quoted example is how Windows beat Apple Macintosh, not because of technology but because of better “marketing” (not promotion).
So “build a better mousetrap” is a half-truth.
Inasmuch, as it is important for an entrepreneur to focus on making the “best” product possible, it is also important they understand that having a good product is only one of the key factors in successful entrepreneurship.
The idea of “excellence speaking for itself”, in the long run, is also not true.
There is more to success as an entrepreneur than having a good product.
A good product has to be promoted. It has to be seen by the right people (influencers).
Sometimes a well-marketed, not-so-good product can achieve greater success than a poorly marketed good product.
Create a great product but do not think that is all that is necessary for a successful business.
Entrepreneur Myth #4: Never Give Up!
You will succeed eventually.
Resilience, and the ability to deal with failures and disappointments, are essential qualities for any entrepreneur.
But if you think never giving up is a sure-fire way to succeed, you have been mislaid!
Years ago, one of my favorite motivational quotes came from Vince Lombardi
Winners never quit, and quitters never win.
Still, today I often quote it.
But my understanding of that quote has changed… “winners never give up on being successful”
That however does not mean that they do not change direction.
I mean, if you discover something is not working, how long would you wait before changing direction?
One fact about being an entrepreneur that is definitely not a MYTH is that you will experience “failure” or as I refer to them… “learning experiences”.
This quote by Winston Churchill more accurately describes what it takes to become a SUCCESS in life.
Success is walking from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.
Don’t give up easily, but likewise, don’t be “pig-headed” about the feedback the marketplace is providing.
It may simply be saying, this is not working, try a different way.
A bit of stubbornness is a good trait in an entrepreneur.
Consider “failing” as feedback, and a sign that you need to evaluate and perhaps change direction.
The most successful entrepreneurs I know have “failed” many times.
They have changed direction many times!
Their tenacity and perseverance kept their dream of business success alive during the hard times.
If your business doesn’t offer value, no matter how hard you work, no matter how many times you try, it will not be a success.
Running your head into a brick wall repeatedly doesn’t make you successful
As an entrepreneur, you will often have to change direction.
Changing direction is not the same as giving up.
It is not a failure!
As I have mentioned before, Derek Halpern sums up being an entrepreneur perfectly…
“It will all be over soon.” – Everything, both good and bad, comes to an end. I must enjoy the good while it lasts and persevere through the bad until I have beaten it.
Don’t be afraid to change direction.
Admit you made a mistake and start over!
Myth #5: Successful entrepreneurs don’t exchange time for money.
Look, I get the theory, and Rich Dad, Poor Dad has a lot to do with this.
But let’s look at this a different way, especially when starting out.
If you think about it logically, all successful entrepreneurs have exchanged time for money, albeit for rather a lot of money.
Everything you achieve requires you to exchange your time for a RESULT (Money).
Yes, you may then reinvest that money in a ”passive” source of income, but to get that money in the first place, you had to exchange time for money.
So, if you are starting out and somehow feel that exchanging time for money is beneath you, you have got the wrong end of the stick!
Why would you turn down a huge hourly rate just because it’s not passive?
Former Prime Ministers, Presidents & Billionaires sell their time as keynote speeches.
Would you do a 30-minute speech for $100K?
I’m available if you are not!
It takes time to build a recurring income.
Which is why I DO BOTH!
Don’t turn your nose up at exchanging time for money. (and re-investing that income in your business)
Entrepreneur Myth #6: You create your own luck
We have all seen those positive quotes about creating your own luck. My favorite is by Bruce Lee…
You have to create your own luck. You have to be aware of the opportunities around you and take advantage of them.
I get that, and there is truth in it. However, sometimes we are just plain LUCKY.
I have been!
When I look back at my entrepreneurial career, I think how lucky I was to not know some things I now know.
Let me rephrase that.
Because it might sound silly.
I started my entrepreneurial career in a rather offhand manner when I was 21 years old.
I had been in the Merchant Navy.
I’d been traveling the world, and life looked good.
But (frankly, I don’t know why) I wanted to try something new.
I looked at several opportunities.
I thought about being an engineer because that’s what I trained for.
But somehow I fell into a sales career.
I started a self-employed commission-only sales career!
Some would call it a hard sell! (it wasn’t)
I was fortunate.
I didn’t realize that by most people’s standards, this was not a proper job.
(a proper job that came with a basic salary, paid holidays, etc)
If I had “known better”, chances are high I wouldn’t have taken that job.
And I may have never found my calling as an entrepreneur!
Sometimes, it’s what we don’t know that allows us to do what we should do.
At least that was the case for me!
Turned out a sales career and entrepreneurship were what I was destined for.
Looking back, I am happy I did not know better.
Also, there have been many times in my entrepreneurial career when luck played its part.
Like in 1998, when I “accidentally” fell into being an online entrepreneur. A decision that resulted in a 7 Figure payday in 2006!
And when I speak to fellow successful entrepreneurs, I often find they can relate to similar experiences.
Ron Shah, CEO of Bizly, provides an alternative word to use while describing luck – “timing”.
Timing determines if the right door opens exactly when you need it, or the key person walks into your life or if your product resonates with your customer given all the other factors in the world at that time. And despite our best attempts, most often, timing is outside of our direct control.
Here is a final thought to consider about “luck”
Consider that both Steve Jobs and Jeff Bezos – two of the world’s most successful entrepreneurs were adopted as young children.
Would their lives have been the same if they had not been adopted? Would they have become the success they became if they had not been adopted?
Truthfully, we don’t know.
But something to think about!
Myth #7: You need money to succeed as an entrepreneur!
Skills and knowledge are more important to an entrepreneur than money.
With the right skills, you can create and build a successful business.
Make it your goal to develop the right entrepreneurial skills and mindset to succeed as an entrepreneur.
Myth #8: You need to have a Great Idea!
You don’t need a new idea to be an entrepreneur.
Look, I understand the advantages of being a “first mover” – I was one myself.
But consider this, being second or third to the marketplace can often be a huge advantage. Friendster and Yahoo are often quoted as examples of first-mover companies that lost out to second-mover companies (i.e., Facebook, and Google)
Also, did you appreciate that Coca-Cola wasn’t the first soda to hit the market?
Dr. Pepper started earlier.
Being a first-mover advantage doesn’t mean you have the advantage.
Jonathan Abrams – founder of Friendster provides some useful insight into his experience as a first-mover here.
A successful Amazon FBA entrepreneur I know launches new product after new product.
He does this by looking at successful products and seeing how he can make them better.
One way to do that is to look at the existing product feedback ratings, and in particular, the few 1-star reviews.
By analyzing these reviews, he can discover ways he can create a similar product that is better.
Now, that is a good idea!
Myth #9: Business has to be your life!
The idea that in order to succeed as an entrepreneur you must put your business “above everything else” is simply: WRONG!
The reality is you have a choice.
Some entrepreneurial success stories may suggest that entrepreneurs put their business above everything else.
But it is still a choice!
And for many entrepreneurs, it will be the wrong choice.
The price that many entrepreneurs pay for their career choice is high.
Failed relationships, STRESS, illness, heart attacks, even death.
But it doesn’t have to be like that. This will help.
You don’t have to be an unhappy, stressed entrepreneur.
What makes you happy?
Family? Friends? Hobby? Faith?
You can still have all of these while being a focused and successful entrepreneur.
Myth #10: You have to come from a family of entrepreneurs.
There is no such thing as a “born entrepreneur” just as there is no such thing as a “born salesman”.
Entrepreneurship is a learned skill and as we have already mentioned, many of us “accidentally” end up as entrepreneurs.
And while we are at it, according to Family Business Magazine only 13% of successful family businesses last through three generations.
And less than two-thirds survives the second generation.
There are of course exceptions, two of my sons are successful entrepreneurs, but the important thing to note is that they did not take over a family business.
In both instances, they started their own businesses. I like to think I played a part in mentorship. Perhaps I did, perhaps I have not.
Often I find it is me that is learning from them these days.
Myth #11: The Most Successful Entrepreneurs Start Young
Simply, not true!
Here are three examples of entrepreneurs who launched highly successful businesses later in life.
Ray Kroc started McDonald’s aged 52.
John Pemberton invented Coca-Cola aged 55.
Colonel Harland David Sanders launched KFC at 65.
Some start young, some start later.
The inexperience of youth has its advantages (it sure did for me) but likewise, the experience and wisdom of later years often means you will make fewer mistakes.
And generally, you will be less reckless!
Myth #12: You are in control of time and how fast you move.
If only that was true!
You may have the best idea ever and be certain of success and then at the last moment, just as you are about to launch, a competitor launches a competing product.
Maybe even a better product!
Your competitors can and will disrupt your plans.
Don’t be surprised and don’t let it bother you.
It is part of entrepreneurial life.
There is also Parkinson’s law to consider when planning a new business launch.
It is the adage that “work expands to fill the time available for its completion”
That is another half-truth.
It is only true if you allow it to be.
If you give yourself 30 days to clean your home, it will take you 30 days. But if you give yourself 3 hours, it will take 3 hours. The same applies to your goals, ambitions, and potentials, you can create a new life by creating more urgency in the current one.
Therefore, setting an end goal and a time/date to complete it is so important. In that respect, you influence the timescale.
Just be aware entrepreneurial life comes with no guarantees and things outside your control will happen and will disrupt your plans!
Myth #13: Entrepreneurs MUST take risks
A half-truth and a dangerous one as well. Most stories of risk-taking do not tell the complete story.
A post by Asim Qureshi (CEO Jibble) on LinkedIn a few weeks ago changed my perspective on the whole idea of risk-taking and entrepreneurship.
Unlike many, including my friend, I had the luxury of being able to fail. I also had a wife that encouraged me to go for it.
Risks aren’t as risky for those that can afford to take them – heroism is often nothing more than the omission of details.
This was a response Asim Qureshi made after sharing a story of how a friend he encouraged to take risks, responded by telling him that he supported his parents and siblings. It was difficult for him to take risks compared to Asim Qureshi.
For some of us, taking risks is easier than for others.
I recall a conversation I had with a friend and potential business partner when I was in my 20s. He was 20 years older than me and in the end; he considered he could not take the risk, because if it did not work out, it would be more difficult to recover his loss.
A fair comment – but not one I fully understood.
We all have different attitudes to risk.
Another friend of mine, who created a hugely successful business, could get started because his employer allowed him to take a sabbatical year.
He took the “risk” knowing that if it didn’t work out, he could go back to his old job. Fortunately, his idea for a business turned into a huge success and he did not return to his old employers.
I mention this so that you understand there is nothing wrong with trying to mitigate risks if you can.
That said, of course launching a business and investing money is “risky” and it is not for the faint-hearted.
Myth #14: You are not good enough to be an Entrepreneur
One of the biggest entrepreneurial myths is “I’m not good enough,” “I don’t have the right experience,” or “I don’t have the right mentors”
This is simply not true.
Hopefully, by now, you understand successful entrepreneurs come from all backgrounds and there will be someone just like YOU who has already made a success of entrepreneurship.
Entrepreneur Myth #15: Entrepreneurs are gamblers.
Entrepreneurs are not gamblers, they are driven, resourceful individuals.
Entrepreneur Myth #16: Entrepreneurship is the best life!
This is often something that is peddled by “make money online” gurus who are trying to persuade you to buy their training.
It isn’t true.
Enjoying the best life is again a matter of choice and frankly, nothing to do with your career choice.
In my experience, it is how you respond to life’s challenges that determine the quality of your life. This will help.
I am a happy entrepreneur, but there are plenty of unhappy and stressed entrepreneurs.
Sometimes a little naivety is good and it can take you a long way, but don’t deceive yourself about the challenges you may face as an entrepreneur.
Understand the risks and do it, anyway!
Again, no one is born an entrepreneur; I don’t think so.
Anyone can be an entrepreneur, but not everyone should be an entrepreneur.
Follow your individual path and live a happy life.
Myth #17: Entrepreneurs are only in it for the money!
I purposely left this until the end.
It is perhaps the most understood part about being an entrepreneur.
A business needs to make a profit. But my experience is that MONEY is not the No1 motivating factor.
Check out this research from Santa Clara University.
Entrepreneurs often get bad press.
It is almost like making money and improving the lives of others is a sin.
But as we concluded in our post about the most successful entrepreneurs of all time – many are more motivated about making a difference than making money. Andrew Carnegie was one such entrepreneur.
17 Entrepreneur Skills Every Entrepreneur Needs To Develop
- Learn the entrepreneur skill of how to communicate with other people.
- Learn how to work together with other people.
- Learn how to negotiate in order to get what you want.
- Learn how to motivate other people.
- Learn how to overcome procrastination.
- Learn how to manage your time effectively.
- Learn how to overcome the fear of failure.
- Deal with entrepreneurial stress
- Learn from entrepreneurial mistakes
- Adapt to change
- Develop the entrepreneur skill of working well under pressure.
- Develop the entrepreneur skill of working well in teams.
- Develop the skill of working well under tight financial constraints.
- Develop the skill of working well under pressure and tight deadlines.
- Develop the skill of “thinking on your feet”.
- Develop the skill of working well in an unfamiliar environment.
- Develop your business planning skills.
- Being in the moment.
- Using your emotions to your advantage.
- Being able to work under pressure.
- Learning how to be a great communicator.
- Learning to manage your time effectively.
- Learn the importance of delegation.
And one final thought – no matter if you are an entrepreneur or not…
Until YOU Change Your Thinking . . . YOU Will Always Recycle Your Experiences.
If you are a struggling entrepreneur and nothing seems to work, consider this…
Change your thinking!
That is something that is NOT an Entrepreneurial myth.
Barry Dunlop is a lifelong Entrepreneur, Business Coach, and Sales Turnaround Expert who is passionate about helping business owners grow their businesses and enjoy a better life while doing it. To interview Barry or invite him on your Podcast make contact HERE or connect with Barry on LinkedIn
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