Benard Mokua0 Comments
August 14, 2015
If you are an entrepreneur, you know it is both a great and grueling journey you are in. unfortunately, there are a number of bizarre notions that will derail your journey to successful entrepreneurship.
For the entrepreneur, even the best business opportunities will fail if entered for the wrong reasons. The mythology built around entrepreneurship dates back several centuries and some of the myths have been accepted as infallible truths by many people.
This post looks at the sedimentations—the falsehoods— that has piled around entrepreneurship with the aim of gorging them out so that we remain with only the truth about entrepreneurship.
Henry David Thoreau Once said, “It is never too late to give up our prejudices.” Therefore, this is a wakeup call for all would-be and current entrepreneurs to seriously rethink their principles so as to fish out any belief, prejudice, misconception, myths or misplaced notion that may derail your entrepreneurial endeavors.
Here we go.
It is not always that a successful people stick to the ‘Never Quit’ aphorism.
We all grew up being told that the only thing guaranteed to bring success to our doorstep is never to quit or even entertain the word in our mind. This is what we read in most personal development books and blogs.
There is certainly an element of truth in it, but the problem is the interpretation. The saying ‘Never Quit’ should not be taken to mean that we should stick to projects even if it is clear that it is not going to work.
What it simply means is that we should never quit when it comes to finding a successful path.
For instance, in my pursuit to establish successful online business, I have had to quit several projects which turned out to be a complete waste of time and which were clearly never going to work; however, I have never quit trying to find the most profitable online niche.
Entrepreneurs are like travellers. They never stop moving towards their desired destination, but along the way, they have to learn to abandon paths that will not lead them to the Promised Land.
Unless you are absolutely certain that you are persisting on the right project, like Thomas Edison and his light bulb, there comes a time when quitting makes sense.
Remember, we are living in fast-paced world. Things change so fast. I am not even sure the current online business landscape will be the same 5 years to come.
Let me give you a good example: in 2010, a friend made $10,000 affiliate profits advertising in Google. What he did is that he directly linked he affiliate links to his ads.
Two years later, his account was banned because he refused to accept the reality that the project was no longer tenable.
There is a time to persist and a time to quit. Learn to let go. You are wise enough to know when to quit, when to pause, when to persist, when to slow down.
Wrong. Entrepreneurship is not all about inventing something. Sure some entrepreneurs might invent something, but that doesn’t mean all entrepreneurs are inventors.
Invention is not something you sit down and say, “Well, I will have to invent something before the end of this year.”
Invention should come naturally. It is a combination of expertise, creativity and the need to find solutions to problems. It could be that a solution already exists and you want to find a better one.
So, invention is not the sole aim of entrepreneurs, but could be a tool in their arsenal of tools.
I don’t think a lot of people understand the true meaning of the word entrepreneur. The primary aim of an entrepreneur is to organize, build and invest on an opportunity with the aim of making profit.
If the entrepreneur ends up inventing something very spectacular, then that would be excellent. But we are not sitting here saying that if you want to become an entrepreneur you should invent something.
In the purest sense, entrepreneurs are those who identify a need and fill it.
There has been quite a groundswell of the media hyping job-hoppers as entrepreneurs. This has falsely led to the belief that job-hoppers are entrepreneurs or entrepreneurs are job-hoppers. That is not entirely correct because the two are not related.
If you are restless and you keep moving from one job to the next, you can’t say you are an entrepreneur. It would be more accurate to call yourself a restless soul that hasn’t found its place.
In reality, if you truly want to become an entrepreneur, you need to stay in one field long enough to become an expert. In fact, a recent research revealed that entrepreneurs stay in a company long enough to understand the dynamics of business before launching out on their own.
However, they don’t stay longer than necessary. One thing they are often too aware of is the fact that the best time to quit isn’t when you are completely ready; because that time may never arrive.
Sure entrepreneurs don’t report to a manager, a supervisor and what have you. However, entrepreneurs still have at least three bosses they report to.
When you finally decide to plunge into the entrepreneurship world, you will find that it is a very demanding job. First, you will have your job to report to where sometimes you will have to work 17 hours a day.
As a matter of fact, you will find that you work harder than those who are in 9-5 jobs.
Then comes the funding part. If you borrowed from a bank or you found investors, they are going to be on your neck, and it is not a very pleasant thing. Your creditors, investors, bankers, etc. are going to be your boss.
Then there is also the third and most important boss you can’t forget—the customer. Your job as an entrepreneur is to provide an unbeatable value proposition to your customers.
You have to beat the competition and ensure you have the customer by your side. Of course, I needn’t remind you that some customers are very difficult to please.
Maybe some entrepreneurs may have a clear goal or plan when starting out. But the majority of entrepreneurs have no idea how to satisfy their entrepreneurial cravings.
Many times, entrepreneurs don’t know what they may end up in. They may start a journey to India, but end up in Sydney if Sydney later turns out to be the better destination.
Entrepreneurship is not a fixed plan, but a flexible process that allows business owners to keep trying, failing, trying again, succeeding and so on.
As an entrepreneur, your work is not to predict the future, but to create it. Follow your gut. Do not create rigid goals for yourself because they may limit what you can do.
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A few years ago while working in a large bank, I remember sitting around with a group of friends venting our frustrations with our job.
We were specifically talking about how we’d all like to hand in resignation notices and walk away into the wonderful world of entrepreneurship.
But a few days later, most of my friends began to change their mind. Eventually they all said that they were just going to stick to their jobs because they were not “born entrepreneurs”.
This, to me, was clearly a victim mentality where people feel powerless to change their lives because they believe some people are born with innate entrepreneurial abilities.
They seemed so convinced in their belief, that entrepreneurs are born and not made, that I felt no need to try to convince them to change their minds.
At the time, I felt that if that is what they truly believed, then they might as well stick to their jobs, because if they ventured into entrepreneurship with that mentality, then they surely would fail.
My greatest worry was not that they would fail, but that any failure on their part would further confirm their belief. So I left it at that and eventually ended up being the only person who quit.
One thing my friends refused to accept is that entrepreneurs aren’t born, they are self-made. Anyone can become an entrepreneur so long as they have the desire, the motivation, the open mind, the courage, the ability to convert a problem into an opportunity and the desire to change the world for the better.
Entrepreneurs like Khalid Saleh of Invesp may have entrepreneurial backgrounds, but they are not entrepreneurs because of that; they are entrepreneurs in spite of that.
On the other hand, entrepreneurs like Andrew Carnegie, Robert Kiyosaki, Benjamin Franklin, Henry Ford became successful entrepreneurs in spite of the fact that they came from non-entrepreneurial backgrounds.
If I asked you to name some of the entrepreneurs you know, I am sure the majority will name people like Richard Branson, Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, etc.
Well, this class of entrepreneurs has already received more than enough share of credit as far as entrepreneurship is concerned.
Not that they don’t deserve it (in fact they have tremendously contributed in terms changing the world for the better and deserve every honor so much so that I don’t know where the world would be without them), but my worry is that the spotlight has long been turned away from other, seemingly smaller entrepreneurs who are nonetheless successful in their own right.
So we end up with the myth that entrepreneurship is all about coming up with a grand idea like Amazon, Facebook, Twitter, Apple, etc.
Most significantly we forget that even those big ventures didn’t start as big as they currently are. Most of them started small and grew to become the big things they are today.
Many could-be entrepreneurs have the habit of dismissing their business ideas because they feel it is not big enough to take the world by surprise. Well, if you are waiting for an Einstein-like idea, you will wait a long, long time.
Just because your idea doesn’t have the backing of millions of people, doesn’t mean it lacks the ingredients for success. As long as the idea has some value and you are passionate about it, why not?
You will be very sorry for yourself if you dismiss an idea only to wake up one day and discover that someone else has built an empire around the very idea you dismissed.
This reminds me of the biblical stone that the builders rejected. Never underestimate your idea until you test it.
We can’t deny the fact that most businesses end up failing. That is for sure. Yet, the percentage of failures could be an exaggeration. Most of us are told that 95% of businesses will fail within the first 5 years.
On the other hand, the U.S Small Business Administration estimates that 50% of small businesses will fail within the first 5 years. So, which of the two should we believe?
Okay, forget the numbers, I know for sure that 74% of statistics are made up. Perhaps this could be one of them.
The question is: Should entrepreneurs pay too much attention to things like “95% of businesses fail within 5 years”?
As far as I’m concerned, it will not be of any help. Firstly, you don’t know for sure whether the figures are correct. Secondly, it is none of your business to worry about the number of businesses that fail.
Your only concern is to make YOURS successful. What would it matter in the world if you were told that “only 10% of businesses fail within 5 years” and yours happen to be among the 10%?
As an entrepreneur, you sure are going to use statistics in many instances, but I don’t think that this should be one of them. Your failure or success as an entrepreneur shouldn’t be determined by statistics.
The only thing that you should bear in mind is that you are probably going to fail in many ventures before you hit success.
This is the ultimate advice for entrepreneurs: If at first you don’t succeed, try again. If at first you don’t succeed, try try again. If at first you don’t succeed, try try again.
Of course entrepreneurs are risk-takers, but this myth has been told repeatedly to imply that it is only in entrepreneurship that people take risks. That is where the fallacy lies. This has served to scare more people away from entrepreneurship.
Let us get this right: there is no entrepreneurship without risk, but that is because risk applies to virtually everything under the sun.
When you travel, you risk an accident. When you eat fish, you risk being choked by a fishbone. When you get employed, you risk being fired. When you are alive, you risk dying. When you marry, you risk getting divorced. When you do an exam, you risk failing.
Risk is everywhere. So when you become an entrepreneur, you risk losses and failures.
So, the issue of entrepreneurs being risk-takers should not act as a scarecrow, but should only serve to remind you that entrepreneurship is part of life.
Instead of worrying about the risks associated with owning a business, you should focus on how to mitigate those risks.
The entrepreneurial mythology that has infiltrated the minds of many would-be entrepreneurs is that you need enough cash stacked aside before starting a business.
Some businesses need huge amounts of capital to start with, especially the brick-and-mortar businesses. Others only require a couple of hundred dollars to start, especially some online businesses.
Still, others will require next to zero capital to start, for example, maid service, and so on.
Therefore, it depends on what type of business you want to start. One business may require one million dollars to start, yet another may just take 10 bucks.
Even if your business is capital-intensive, you still don’t need to have the cash already. There are several alternatives:
If you have a great idea that you would like to try, ask yourself what is stopping you. It is possible that you are being derailed by misconceptions and myths that are either entirely false or half-truths.
Remember, as an entrepreneur, you are not supposed to follow the wisdom of the crowd. If you truly are or want to become an entrepreneur, you should be comfortable going against the norms if that is what it will take to take your idea to the next level.
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