This list started with 5 Lies of Entrepreneurship on Sonia Simone’s Remarkable Communications blog. She listed:
- That entrepreneurs are some kind of special breed of human being; that they’re different from you or me.
- That a business has to eat your life.
- That entrepreneurs have to be crazy risk-takers.
- That there’s a Right Way and a Wrong Way.
- That having your own business is all or nothing.
I’d quote her explanations here, but she doesn’t include them. She asks you for your e-mail and sends them to you.
I will add for my own part that even without explanations I like all five, and I agree that they are all common lies. No. 1 calls all those “traits of entrepreneurs” posts into question, including ones that I’ve written. But that’s OK with me; I don’t think those generalizations apply. They’re fun, yes, and they generate interesting discussions, but entrepreneurs are so different, one from the other, that the idea of the special breed doesn’t hold water.
I’ve posted myself before how entrepreneurs aren’t necessarily risk takers, and why I don’t believe in the concept of best practices, so of course I agree with lies three and four.
And her lies Nos. 2 and 5 are about work-life balance, which I believe in, so those are easy for me, too.
Here are my additions, lies number 6 through 10:
6. Being an entrepreneur means being your own boss.
Not true. With due respect to some good writers whose work keys on the be-your-own-boss theme: If you build a business your business, and especially your customers, are your boss. Or else you go under.
7. If you’re stubborn enough, and you keep trying, you’ll succeed.
That one isn’t necessarily true. A business that doesn’t offer something people want to pay for will fail no matter how stubborn the entrepreneur. It has to be a decent business, offering some value, to make it. Running your head into a brick wall repeatedly doesn’t make you successful.
8. Do what you love and love what you do.
That’s closer to true than some of these other lies, but it’s more like half true, because doing what you love doesn’t make it alone. You have to do something other people will pay for, too. Loving your art doesn’t mean other people will pay for those greeting cards. Not everybody can be a professional athlete, artist or musician. Out here in the real world, we make compromises.
9. You have to be first.
No, you don’t. Not true. You have to offer value and position yourself effectively. Being different is much more important than being first. Second and third movers win markets all the time. There is such a thing as “first mover advantage,” but it’s only one factor. Visicalc was the first spreadsheet, WordStar the first personal computer word-processing product, and dBaseII was the first personal computer database management software. Altair and MIPS made personal computers before Apple or Radio Shack. Atari came before every video game company that still exists.
10. The best idea wins.
Ha! Good marketing with mediocre product often wins over bad marketing with good product. Showing up makes a huge difference. Offering value makes a huge difference. Business is littered with good ideas that failed or, more accurately, companies that failed despite having good ideas (because in many cases the good ideas survived, but the companies didn’t).
Some would say the best marketing wins, others the best product, others the best customer service, maybe the best location. And what about all those businesses that don’t start with new ideas, just variations on existing ones?
(Image credit: Victor Correia/Shutterstock)