This post has been updated on May 7, 2020.
Any aspiring entrepreneur creates an image of what they think having their own business implies. Most of the time that image cannot be further away from reality. Nobody says that being an entrepreneur is easy, but some suggestions and recommendations or even criteria to fulfill and qualities to have in order to succeed are far fetched.
Debunking 5 myths about being an entrepreneur
No matter what kind of entrepreneur you are, you are bound to face many myths and misconceptions about what it means to have a business; even nowadays when practically you have all the knowledge in the world at your fingertips. Don’t let these myths get in the way of your success:
Anyone can be an entrepreneur
Technically this is true, but practically things are more complicated than that. You need more than just a desire to be one. Willpower won't do it. You need grit, perseverance, agility — and other entrepreneurial skills to be successful. The good news is that anyone can learn these skills; they’re not genetically inherited.
The bad news is that acquiring entrepreneurial skills doesn’t always equal success. Many entrepreneurs fail because they lack foresight, the ability to predict what their target market is looking for and try to provide it, and the ability to adapt to their customers' needs. CB Insights mentioned that from the startups that fail, 42% do so because the entrepreneurs weren't able to foresee if their product was needed on the market in the first place.
The younger you are the better
Well, when it comes to age everything is relative. It depends on the type of person you are, the type of business you want to have, and what expectations you have from it.
The idea that you should start young is not wrong, because you can learn how things work by actually doing them. There is always the risk of failing regardless of age, but you may lack the maturity necessary to handle some setbacks and achieve success.
There are many entrepreneurs who started a business after 50 and succeeded. According to a study by the Kauffman Foundation, that surveyed 652 US-born CEOs and heads of product development, the average and median age of U.S.-born tech founders were 39 when they started their companies. Twice as many were older than 50 as were younger than 25.
Moreover, according to MIT Sloan, the most successful entrepreneurs are over 40. For instance, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings started movie rentals when he was 37 and the first streaming at 47. Also the founders of the famous food chains McDonald’s and Kentucky Fried Chicken were over 50 when they started their businesses.
Timing is everything
There's a saying that you should not let for tomorrow what you can do today. The best time to start a business was six months ago, or at least yesterday.
There is no such thing as waiting for the right time to start your business. You’ll probably never be completely ready for entrepreneurship, but you have to begin somewhere. Try to consider that whatever step you take will create the momentum your business needs to flourish and it's better than not taking any action at all.
You need a lot of money to get things started
There is no direct link between the amount of money entrepreneurs invest and the revenues they get. You do need money, but the “a lot” part is debatable. Most startups begin with an average of 1,000 $, while most businesses start with a 10,000-50,000 $ investment.
There is a tendency to go for a quick profit by reaching investors, but there is no necessity to do so. You can start small, building your business slowly but steadily, creating a solid foundation for you to grow on.
Entrepreneurs work less
This idea has been promoted lately especially by the ones selling content on how to start a business. Some do manage to have a four-hour workweek, but those people are as common as unicorns. This may be the case, though, of some entrepreneurs who have a name established on the market and who have employees doing most of the job. However, most entrepreneurs work longer than the average employee, because they’re driven by more than a paycheck (fulfill a dream, make a change, be their own boss, make a difference, etc).
This is probably the most popular misconception, since nowadays everyone wants to be an entrepreneur. They don't realize the implications of it and they think that if they have a business they are not employees working from 9 to 5. Well, this is true, actually! But they don't see how much more invested in the business they would be, and therefore, they would work even more, sometimes close to 24/7.
The motivation they have goes beyond the money they may earn. They feel like they work for themselves to build something from scratch and have the satisfaction of having contributed in a way to the well-being of their customers.
So if you want to be an entrepreneur you should be confident in your idea, take action towards your goals, stop procrastinating under the excuse that you are waiting for the right time. That time will never come. Make the first step and then the next one, and the next, and so on. You can start small with little financial investment, but you need to put in a lot of working hours, at least in the first six months.
You can do this. Yes, even you, the ones over 50. Age is just a number. If you have everything it takes, like some entrepreneurial skills, motivation and perseverance, you can succeed. But spare yourself of some hardship and sorrow and check if there's a need for your product on the market or you'll set yourself up for failure.