We love to hear stories about successful entrepreneurs, like these best buds, Tom Jansen and Amanda Buhse. This duo of entrepreneurs turned a hobby into one of Winnipeg, Canada’s hottest small businesses.
Reading success stories like that inspires and encourages those of us who are on the fence—waiting for the right time to take that leap of faith. If you’re dreaming of your own small business, make sure none of these common misconceptions are giving you unrealistic expectations:
1. Starting a business requires a huge capital investment.
Not always. Some have started with as little as $10k, with most starting with $25k, on average. Brian Morgan, Founder of Adventure Life, started his company with $3k in 1998. By 2008, the company was making $11 million.
2. Entrepreneurship is going to make me rich.
Sorry, but not all entrepreneurs have the same kind of success as Brian Morgan. Entrepreneurship is not a get-rich-quick scheme. In fact, it typically takes 1-3 years for a startup to turn a profit. According to a study from American Express in 2013, the average salary of the entrepreneur was $68,000, which is nothing to scoff at, but still perhaps not the six figures you might have envisioned.
3. My product/service is the best out there so I know I’ll have instant success.
If you don’t have right sales, marketing and connections in your industry, your business will struggle, no matter how great your product/service might be.
4. Being an entrepreneur will give me more control over my schedule.
Maybe a little, but keep in mind that the first few years will take lots of your time, requiring long workdays, and little or no vacation time. Also, you’ll often have to schedule meetings around your client’s availability, not your own. If you are flying solo, your time will be tight.
5. Entrepreneurship = no more boss.
Guess what? The BUSINESS is your boss. Everyone has someone to report to—in one way or another—even if you are the CEO of your own business. If you are funded, your investors are your boss. You will always be held accountable by clients, potential clients and partners.
6. The more clients the better.
Not always true. ALL clients are not GOOD clients. Some are very high maintenance, haggle too much on your prices, carry unrealistic expectations and are just not worth the investment in your time. Also, you don’t want to spread yourself too thin. If you can’t take good care of your client base, you could jeopardize your credibility, quality and overall brand.
7. Entrepreneurship is fun.
It can be, but it’s not always a walk in the park. There will be lots of ups and downs, with highest of highs and lowest of lows. It can be a monster of a roller coaster at times, so buckle up and be prepared for the ride.
8. You must have a business plan.
Not really. While it is nice to have one in place, an elaborate business plan might be a waste of time, especially since plans and forecasts will likely change in the near-term. What IS required is that you fully comprehend your core, underlying business model: who your customers are, what they want, how you can deliver that to them, and how you can turn a profit.
9. Anyone can be an entrepreneur.
Certainly not. Self-employment is an unrealistic goal if you are the kind of person who can’t get work done without external pressure and direction from others. You’re the one making big decisions—the one that has to follow through on all of them. To be successful, you need discipline and confidence in your abilities. Oh, and did I mention: patience, perseverance, and a sense of humor?
10. You have to be lucky.
Luck is a wonderful thing, but it’s not a key ingredient for small business success. Successful entrepreneurs are hardworking, determined and are laser focused on their pursuits.
So yes, being an entrepreneur can be challenging, but it can also be one of the most rewarding things you will ever do. The feeling of accomplishment you get as you watch your business grow and prosper is unmatched. Remember, “Love what you do. Work hard. Have faith in your dreams—and success will follow.”