Entrepreneurship has changed a lot in the past two decades. Access to information and resources is greater than ever thanks to the advances of the Internet, and a culture of startup favoritism has encouraged young creative thinkers to follow their projects more than ever before. In many ways, we live in the midst of a startup renaissance, filled with opportunities for anyone with an independent passion and a strong idea.
Yet there are a number of misconceptions about this era of entrepreneurship that permeate the startup community and society in general. These are 10 of the worst offenders:
1. Not everybody gets startup capital.
Every day, there’s some new tech darling that just received several million dollars in startup funding. The statistics are both true and misleading. More money than ever is being invested in startups, specifically tech startups, and entrepreneurs today do have a higher chance of getting capital than they did in 1990. But the distribution of that funding is lopsided. The vast majority of it goes to a select handful of projects with the greatest profitability potential. Smaller projects, even if grounded with a good idea and a sound business plan, often get passed over.
2. Entrepreneurs only make some of their own rules.
Part of the allure of entrepreneurship is getting to be your own boss and call your own shots. In some ways, this is true. You’ll get to set your own schedule and come up with your own office rules. But in other ways, the modern entrepreneur is a slave to circumstance, mentors, investors and customers. They all have a vested say in the direction of the company, and if the entrepreneur doesn’t listen, he/she will lose out on funding, revenue and support.
3. It takes to a good idea to start but a lot more to succeed.
Good ideas are hard to come by, and they are valuable, but realistically a good idea is only the starting point. On top of a good idea, you need an experienced leader to direct the company, a solid business plan to direct the course of business, great timing, an eye on your competitors, solid funding, and a great team to support you. These things are even harder to come by, and without them even a good idea can fail.
4. You won’t become a billionaire overnight. If ever.
All the “overnight success” stories you read about entrepreneurs are wrong. Nobody becomes a billionaire overnight. That level of success is the product of hard work, heavy investment, trail and error, failure, and ongoing education.
5. Crowdfunding works but isn’t easy.
Crowdfunding seems like a shortcut for entrepreneurs. Anyone can set up a Kickstarter or Indiegogo campaign and instantly connect with the world for bits-and-pieces funding. But pushing your crowdfunding campaign to success takes a lot of time and effort, and sometimes, you’ll come up with nothing at all (thanks to Kickstarter’s all-or-nothing rule).
6. Where you start your business still matters.
It may seem like the Internet allows you to be an entrepreneur everywhere, but there are still hotspots where most tech startups seem to aggregate. Funding is available there, and scarce elsewhere.
7. You might need to give up on that idea you love so much.
The mindset is that modern entrepreneurs put their noses to the grindstone and simply work hard until their idea is a success. The reality is that most entrepreneurs end up scrapping ideas, trying, failing and reinventing ideas from the ground up until eventually they succeed. They never give up on entrepreneurship in general, but they give up on individual ideas all the time.
8. Startup culture is not a party.
Pop culture illustrates “startup culture” as one big party with casual dress codes, hip music, and lax work schedules. In reality, most startup employees are constantly hammering away at their work, rarely stopping even for a lunch break. The rules might be different from those of a conventional office, but there’s a lot of hard work going on.
9. Growing an online presence is work.
Getting a free website and claiming a social media profile are examples of easy online tasks, but building a robust and recognizable online presence is another story. It takes months of hard work and refinement to get to that level.
These misconceptions lead many young entrepreneurs to disappointment, and allow many people to think that entrepreneurship is easier than it actually is. Properly tempering your expectations and understanding the reality of modern entrepreneurship are the first steps to setting realistic goals and a reasonable plan forward.
10. On the bright side, you become an entrepreneur gradually.
There are plenty of stories about entrepreneurs who dropped everything, quitting school or jobs to pursue their vision full-time. This happens often, but it’s neither necessary nor universal. Today, it’s entirely possible for entrepreneurs to start out with part-time effort, eventually scaling up if it’s appropriate to do so.