Myths of Entrepreneurship:
I always wanted to start something of my own since the age of 22. I belong to a business family and you can blame it on my genes for that bug which bit me pretty early in life. But what took me so long? I was simply not brave enough to pursue it. I had good jobs that just kept getting better. I was building great value, being rewarded with promotions, and high pay. Why would I leave? Why would I risk failure, when I already had what most people viewed as success?
But I did take the plunge but for all wrong reasons. So let me try to bust some of the myths of entrepreneurship over here.
Myth 1: All Successful Entrepreneurs are college Dropouts.
For many entrepreneurs, college has little appeal. Academia’s
arbitrary, bureaucratic structure, combined with its predominant focus on theoretical issues, causes many entrepreneurs to depart college early. Others, such as Walt Disney and Richard Branson never even enroll.
Given the advent of “drop out of college” scholarships and the success of high-profile entrepreneurs who only earned a high-school diploma, it is prudent to consider their business advice.
Mark Zuckerberg – “The dynamic of managing people and being CEO in a company is a lot different than being college roommates with someone.”
Contrary to the popular opinion that college graduates with entrepreneurial dreams should start businesses right away, research shows it’s better to build up financial and human capital first.
Successful entrepreneurship requires knowledge of many aspects of business best learned on the job — seeing what customers need, understanding how to manage people, knowing how to sell, and so on.
Myth 2: Follow your Passion.
Most of the entrepreneurs I have met as an Investment Banker are the ones who have become one due to some necessity. Either they had no formal education to join a great job, or have lost the jobs, or hated the boss or wanted a better work life balance. Whatever be the reason, there are very few who did it because of pure passions.
So Where you will read and hear from famous people like Steve Jobs tell you is to Follow your Passion, I beg to differ on that. In fact, if you look at Steve Jobs own story is far from what he has preached. He was a school dropout who wandered on various spiritual journeys and was always bankrupt. In 1970s Jobs eventually grew tired of being a pauper and, joined his friend Steve Wozniak who was dealing in creating computer processors for a client of his. Unlike Jobs, Wozniak was a true electronics whiz who was obsessed with technology and had studied it formally at college. On the flip side, however, Wozniak couldn’t stomach business, so he allowed Jobs, a longtime friend, to handle the details of the arrangement. I tell this story because these are hardly the actions of someone passionate about technology and entrepreneurship, yet this was less than a year before Jobs started Apple Computer. In other words, in the months leading up to the start of his visionary company, Steve Jobs was something of a conflicted young man, seeking spiritual enlightenment and dabbling in electronics only when it promised to earn him quick cash.
It was with this mindset that later that same year, Jobs stumbled into his big break. He noticed that the local “wireheads” were excited by the introduction of model-kit computers that enthusiasts could assemble at home. Jobs pitched Wozniak the idea of designing one of these kit computer circuit boards so they could sell them to local hobbyists. Neither Wozniak nor Jobs left their regular jobs: This was strictly a low-risk venture meant for their free time.
From this point, flagyl however, the story quickly veers into legend. It was in this unexpected windfall that Apple Computer was born. As Young emphasizes, “Their plans were circumspect and small-time. They weren’t dreaming of taking over the world.”
I shared the details of Steve Jobs’s story because when it comes to finding fulfilling work, the details matter. If a young Steve Jobs had taken his own advice and decided to only pursue work he loved, we would probably find him today as one of the Los Altos Zen Center’s most popular teachers. But he didn’t follow this simple advice. Apple Computer was decidedly not born out of passion, but instead was the result of a lucky break–a “small-time” scheme that unexpectedly took off.
I don’t doubt that Jobs eventually grew passionate about his work: If you’ve watched one of his famous keynote addresses, you’ve seen a man who obviously loved what he did. But so what? All that tells us is that it’s good to enjoy what you do. This advice, though true, doesn’t help us with the pressing question that we actually care about: How do we find work that we’ll eventually love?
So the first lesson was that Passion when not converted into profits is at the max a great hobby. So while it is great if you can have a job or business which stems from your passion, most of us are not that lucky. I believe everything you do should have some measure of success and financial success is a healthy benchmark for that. Anything less is charity. So have clear stated revenue models which is scalable and long term sustainable.
Myth 3: Definition of Success for startups
Imagine for a moment that you have created a new web app and after about 3 months of launching you are doing $2000 per month of sales. Would you consider yourself as a successful startup?
Well, you are already ahead of majority of startups which never get to see any revenue. So, in that way you are doing good. Plus if $2000 covers all your human and infrastructure cost, that means you have broken even and are doing really well. Is breaking-even the measure of success for a startup?
You certainly didn’t take the risk to earn just-enough money. Why would you leave your day job if your goal was to just break-even? So, this directly takes us back to our original question – when do you say that your startup is a success?
I believe answer to that question cannot be given in isolation. What startups need are benchmarks to compare. Knowing what other companies (in a similar position) are earning gives you a great perspective on your own revenues.
Myth 4: Entrepreneurship will lead to better work – life balance.
As an entrepreneur, I had one rude realization that now as an entrepreneur, I not only work 10 times more compared to a normal job but get paid 10 times less. The only reason you continue doing is that you have the belief that one day, you will strike it big and will b able to retire pretty soon. 🙂 But while you are pursuing this remember for every successful entrepreneur you don’t get get to hear about the 100s of unsuccessful ones. At that time financial and human capital helps you to tide away tough times.
Author: Sarika Bhattacharyya co Founder of Altavis (www.altavis.co.in) and Biz Divas (www.bdfoundation.in) has over 12 years of experience Investment Banking and has worked in companies like Merrill Lynch and ICICI Bank . She is passionate about entrepreneurship development and believes in financial independence for every woman. She lives in Gurgaon with her husband and 5 year old son. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org