I could tell you a magical story about my chill weekends and how I wake up with another $10K or so every morning under my pillow.
But, that’s far from the truth.
I’m responding to Slack messages discussing some assignments with my team and replying to customer emails in the meantime.
I’m actually a supporter of full-time jobs in the sense that large companies give outstanding opportunities for creative people — room for growth, company benefits, fixed work hours, steady paycheck, and whatnot.
They even accommodate people who aren’t thrilled about running a business or discovering “The Next Big Thing”.
If employment was suddenly canceled and all full-time employees get fired right away, less than 0.01% of the workforce would be able to accomplish something on their own within the first 6–9 months of them being on the free market.
Here are 5 of the most common myths about entrepreneurship and starting your own business.
1. Starting a Business Is Less Stressful and Less Time-Consuming
The common myth has been busted thousands of times, but college students often believe that “working for yourself” means “setting up your own hours and working whenever you feel like working”.
That’s pure BS and doesn’t work at all in a commercial environment.
We all know that TV shows are distorted–even ones such as Shark Tank or Kitchen Nightmares.
Yet, even on both shows, you can hear the story of the hustling entrepreneurs working day and night, eating cereal all day long, saving each and every cent for production, striving for new clients, cutting costs down, and bringing some recurring revenue accordingly.
Starting a business means taking care of all aspects of a business — from production/implementation through sales and marketing, including accounting, legal, management, and networking. Until you can afford to pay people who can take care of certain departments, you’re on your own. And your business requires all of those business units in order to attract a customer, close a deal, deliver a product, handle the finances in the short-term and the long run, and repeat the process in a somewhat predictable manner.
2. I Have a Billion-Dollar Idea Which Would Be the Next Facebook!
Most folks believe that their most pressing problem is always a killer idea that would become the next Facebook, Uber, Airbnb, or another market unicorn.
In reality, a successful project has plenty of variables, such as:
- The viability of an idea
- The ability to implement this idea properly
- The final cost of the product as compared to other market solutions or what a customer would be willing to pay for
- The production cost of a product/service – or how cheap can you deliver high quality so that it’s competitive
- The brand awareness
- The ability to market a product/service
- The sales capabilities
- The ability to solve an actual pressing problem for a large group of customers
There are other criteria including staff, your network, positioning yourself on the market through press mentions, creating educational content for your audience, fine-tuning your product, and more.
A great idea is worth a lot, but it’s pointless if you can’t execute it and position it in a market where customers would be paying real money for it.
And empty promises are not real money on the table. Your friends may be guaranteeing you that your product is incredible but try to sell a few copies first and see how it goes.
3. Entrepreneurship Is “Working for Myself”
There’s no such thing as “working for myself”.
In a capitalist society, you are asking for money. Be it direct sales, advertisement, affiliate marketing, or anything else – money is the end goal for growing your business (even if it’s not the short-term goal while starting fresh).
And money comes from customers, ad networks, partners, and visitors. You have to make everything in your power (within the legal and moral boundaries) in order to convince people to pay you.
As a result, it’s pretty much the same as working for someone who is dictating the rules and telling you what to do. Except that this one is easier as you have clear requirements, some workflow, a work environment, colleagues you can reach out to for help, and a guaranteed paycheck at the end of the month.
With entrepreneurship, it’s about market research, assessing customer needs, and positioning your solution on the market – whatever it is. If you fail to identify that need and promote yourself and your brand, you won’t sustain yourself for a long time.
4. Customers Are Lining up to Buy My Solution
That’s one of the favorite fairy tales of VCs and angel investors. Unless you have a solid track record of ongoing sales over the past 6 or 12 months, you’re as good as someone with a vague idea in his head.
Customers don’t care about a solution they’ve never heard of. They need proof. They need case studies. They want to see a successful track record of the company, the management staff, and successful implementations or deployments of said solution.
Until that moment, it’s all about grinding. Selling “door to door” may not be applicable for virtual products and services, but that’s what it takes in its corresponding online context.
A great solution is worthless without a customer base. And this takes months to start with and years to grow – often later than what an entrepreneur can handle with limited savings and motivation.
5. My Business Idea Will Be More Profitable and Safe Than a Job
Layoffs at work are common – but not nearly as common as the fail rate of startups.
According to various sources, 9 out of 10 startups fail. That depends on the industry and a few other factors, but it’s overall correct given the grand scheme of things.
Imagine working in a company with 100 employees. Do you think that 90 people would be laid off within 2 years of employment?
The corporate market requires skills, determination, and a pinch of competitive spirit. But the criteria for an employee are often less intense than starting a business on your own. There are plenty of roles you can pick from, internship and entry-level positions for starters, room for growth for the motivated ones, and the ability to job-hop if you’re good enough to transition to better companies over time.
A business venture has to survive over the first few years in order to make it to the top 10%. And then it has to be profitable enough to generate some recurring revenue in a steady manner, reliably enough to continue growing or even staying at the same line.
Losing a client is common. Waiting for a postponed payment is common as well. Legal or accounting issues may happen, too. Competition is likely breathing down your neck so unless you innovate all the time, you’ll be left behind and start declining sooner.
Overall, entrepreneurship is great. It’s exciting, it’s challenging, and it has potential as well. But it’s certainly not a sure bet and takes twice or three times the effort of working a day job. And practical experience working for a company for 5–10 years may be extremely beneficial for learning the basics of managing a team, talking to clients, communicating effectively, selling, or simply managing your time.
There is hardly a limit to your daily activities that you can place within an 8-hour bracket. There’s always more sales or marketing to do, refining your product, talking to prospects, and identifying new areas of improvement. It’s a never-ending process. It’s a lifestyle.
It can pay off in 3–5 years ahead if you’re laser-focused and can identify a pressing need. But the risk is there and most don’t make it past the second year.