5 Myths Not to Believe about Entrepreneurs

Keith Krach
December 22, 2016

Modern entrepreneurs often begin their foray into the business world with nothing more than an innovative idea and a commitment to hard work. Getting a startup off the ground takes time and energy, and many entrepreneurs become a company owner for the first time without the guidance of a mentor or the support of someone who has personal experience in the matter.

New startup founders and small business owners who want to give their company the best shot at success should be aware of the following seven myths about entrepreneurship, as well as the reasons that they aren’t to be believed.

Myth 1: All you need to be successful as an entrepreneur is a good product.

Having a product that your target customer base actually wants to buy is an obvious prerequisite for finding success as an entrepreneur, but it is far from the only thing that you will need to build a strong, prosperous business. Many factors contribute to the ultimate success of your venture, among them the team you put together to help you drive growth, the ability to market your product and your brand correctly, and your ability to develop and follow a business plan that is appropriately scaled.

Don’t make the mistake of assuming that your product or service will speak for itself. Instead, supplement the innovative nature of your business with plenty of well-thought-out planning and strategic advertising practices.

Myth 2: Entrepreneurs are big risk-takers.

The theme of risk plays heavily into our cultural perception of what it means to be an entrepreneur. However, it’s important to note the difference between the calculated risk-taking conducted by prepared businesspersons, and the reckless, impulsive risk-taking that can cause a business to fail. Rather than “risk-takers,” entrepreneurs should be seen as innovators. They push outside the confines of the traditional professional role, where steady paychecks are guaranteed and expectations are defined, in order to create something for themselves.

This is seen as “risky” behavior when compared to maintaining a role within an existing organization, but in no way do entrepreneurs go into their business ventures blindly. Successful entrepreneurs go into business for themselves well-prepared, data-driven, and with a determination bolstered by hope.

Myth 3: Entrepreneurs don’t need mentors.

One of the biggest mistakes that a new entrepreneur can make is underestimating the value that a mentor can contribute to the development of his or her success. The lack of motivation to seek out a mentor often stems from not understanding what a mentoring relationship can offer, being too proud to ask for help, or just not knowing how to begin finding a mentor.

Enlisting the help of a more experienced entrepreneur can help you avoid some of the more common mistakes that new business owners make that hinder or altogether prevent their companies from finding success. An excellent mentor can also help you learn problem-solving techniques by coaching you through problems, provide you with much-needed encouragement, and even help you make the kind of professional connections that drive growth and build better business. While each mentoring relationship is different, studies show that entrepreneurs who seek out mentoring are more likely to lead a company with a lifespan of more than five years.

Myth 4: It’s too late to become an entrepreneur.

Pop culture and the rise of Silicon Valley tech startups in the 2000s have left many people with the impression that becoming an entrepreneur is a professional ambition meant for and led by the youngest subset of adults, but this is not the case. As of four years ago, nearly 25 percent of new businesses were headed by founders 55 and older. The real-world business knowledge and experience that older entrepreneurs have built up over the course of a long career can play a significant role in the creation of a new company, and statistics show this to be true. The average successful entrepreneur has reached the age of 40, and has between six years and a decade of industry experience.

While the stress, long hours, and uncertainty associated with founding a business should always be taken into consideration, potential entrepreneurs should not consider age a limiting factor.

Myth 5: Entrepreneurs answer only to themselves.

Many people find themselves drawn to the idea of opening their own businesses because they romanticize the idea that entrepreneurs get to “be their own boss.” While there is some truth to that, along with a number of freedoms that accompany becoming the founder of a company, the role doesn’t exactly give an entrepreneur the ability to completely avoid taking direction from others. In a sense, all entrepreneurs have a “boss.”

This is because, as a business owner, you will still ultimately be answering to groups of people. Your customers, for one, will dictate which products you put out, how the products are refined, and how much success your company attains. If you have sought funding from investors, they will have some input as to how you use their funding. And finally, your business itself will become a boss, of sorts, demanding long hours and little reprieve before you ever see results. Becoming an entrepreneur can be a fulfilling, exciting experience that adds incredible value to the life of those who choose it, but to get the most out of it, every businessperson should go into the experience with reasonable expectations and the knowledge that hard work is mandatory.

Keith Krach

Keith Krach is Chairman of DocuSign, The Global Standard for Digital Transaction Management.