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Six Myths About Entrepreneurship

May 7, 2024


Most people understand that entrepreneurs play an important role in advancing America’s (or any nation’s) economy. The team at AIContentfy note, “Entrepreneurship [is] a phenomenon that fuels innovative ideas, drives progress, and shapes the very fabric of our economy. From Henry Ford’s assembly line revolution to Mark Zuckerberg’s creation of Facebook, entrepreneurs have long been the torchbearers of change.”[1] They then ask the billion dollar question, “But what is the real impact of their tireless efforts on the economy?” Most people recognize names like Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk, and Mark Zuckerberg because they created companies that grew into giant enterprises, generate billions of dollars, and employ thousands of people. Far fewer people recognize the contribution that smaller businesses make to the economy. The chaos caused by the pandemic skewed the economic statistics; however, small business journalist Brandi Marcene gathered a few pertinent facts about the important role mostly unknown entrepreneurs play in promoting the U.S. economy.[2] Here are a few facts worthy of mention: Over 99% of all firms in the U.S. are run by entrepreneurs; entrepreneurs create 1.5 million new jobs in the U.S. every year; small firms generate 44% of all economic activity; the percentage of immigrant entrepreneurs increased from 13.3% of new business owners in 1996 to 25.4% of new businesses in 2019; small businesses owned by women grew by 58% from 2007 to 2018; and small businesses account for 99.7% of U.S. exports. Despite those numbers, being an entrepreneur is not for the faint-hearted.


Six Myths About Entrepreneurship


Myth #1: Your startup idea has to be fully developed in order to launchLauren Sweeney, CEO and co-founder of DeliverZero, suggests, “The best thing [entrepreneurs] can do is start in a smaller way that feels actually doable for [them]. By launching with a smaller product, it allows them to get their idea out in front of customers and try different things before committing too much time and money.”[3] A similar myth is that an idea needs to be unique. The staff at the Barcelona Business Executive School (BEBS) notes, “There are thousands of businesses in the world with the same concept behind them, but it is the way they act that makes them different.”[4] And don’t think the idea needs to be big. When businesses like Amazon, Facebook, and Apple began, they were small ventures that grew big.


Myth #2: Starting a business always comes with a lot of risk. Entrepreneurship and risk are often mentioned in the same sentence. Entrepreneur Tom Wheelwright writes, “Does starting a business come with risk? Of course. But you have a lot more control over that risk than you think.”[5] He adds, “Chances are you grew up believing that starting a business is far riskier than working for someone else. … If you build a robust and diverse list of clients, you begin to bring that risk way down. … Educate yourself on your business. The more you know about investing in a business and the specific industry and market for your business, the more you’ll be able to minimize your risks.”


Myth #3: All entrepreneurs are funded through venture capital. Al Bartosic, head of Fordham Foundry, and Sweeney, report, “Only between 1% and 5% of startups receive venture capital funding, meaning 95% of startups are not backed by venture capital funds. More than 70% of startups are funded through loans, personal savings, or friends and family.”[6] To learn more about capitalizing your venture, read my article entitled “A Founder’s Guide To Funding.”


Myth #4: Entrepreneurs have to develop their business alone. Keith Krach, Chairman of Krach Institute for Tech Diplomacy at Purdue University, writes, “Another misconception about running a new business is that everything depends solely on the entrepreneur. This might be true at the earliest stages, but taking this idea too seriously is also the best way to guarantee burnout. Collaboration and the art of delegation figure strongly in the health of a company. No one can do it all alone.”[7]


Myth#5: Entrepreneurs are born not made. Although most entrepreneurs are naturally curious and observant, the BEBS staff notes, “You can learn how to start your business or become a leader.” Enoch Omololu, CEO at Enoch Media Inc., adds, “Anyone can be an entrepreneur, but that doesn’t mean everyone has the qualities to excel in this role.”[8] He believes successful entrepreneurs share the following traits: 1) They are self-motivated. 2) They are natural leaders. 3) They are willing to take risks. 4) They are not afraid of failure. 5) They are always willing to learn. 6) They love innovation. 7) They can make big decisions. 8) They are creative.


Myth #6: I’m too old to start a business. Wheelwright reports, “A recent study of more than 2.7 million entrepreneurs found that the average age of successful founders was 42, and the average age of founders of the fastest-growing companies was 45. And that’s the average, so plenty of people have successfully launched companies in their 50s, 60s and beyond.”


Concluding Thoughts


Conrad Persons, President of Grey London, asserts, “Today, it’s impossible to escape the mythology of the entrepreneur. Whether it’s a celebrity turned brand-builder, a start-up podcast or the latest episode of Shark Tank — it’s all around us. … We’re talking about entrepreneurship more than ever, but probably failing to learn the right lessons from it.”[9] One important lesson is to ignore the myths and find your own way. Persons also insists you should have “a high degree of ‘healthy paranoia’.” He explains, “Entrepreneurs — especially on screen — are portrayed with steely imperturbability. They seem so confident in their ideas as to never worry. But in a study of the key personality traits of entrepreneurs, the Harvard Business Review found a surprising characteristic consistently rose to the top: neuroticism. Specifically, feelings of anxiety, tension and nervousness. The most effective entrepreneurs I’ve met are confident, but they are not without moments of deep anxiety.” That’s not surprising since most entrepreneurs are trying to succeed using other people’s money. Like Wheelwright stated above, the best way to reduce your anxiety and your risk is to educate yourself on your business. I agree with Persons who concludes, “Entrepreneurs deserve to be celebrated — whether that’s a plumber in New Jersey or Rihanna flogging Fenty at the Super Bowl. But we do them the greatest tribute when we celebrate them for what they are, not for what we imagine.”


[1] Staff, “The impact of entrepreneurship on the economy,” AIContentfy Blog, 3 January 2024.
[2] Brandi Marcene, “40 statistics that show why entrepreneurship is the lifeblood of U.S. business,” America’s Small Business Network, 1 May 2023.
[3] Kelly Kultys Prinz, “5 Myths About Entrepreneurship,” Fordham News, 20 February 2024.
[4] Staff, “12 Frequent Myths about Entrepreneurs Debunked,” Barcelona Business Executive School, 26 April 2021.
[5] Tom Wheelwright, “Don’t Let These Myths About Entrepreneurship Hold You Back,” Entrepreneur, 17 June 2023.
[6] Prinz, op. cit.
[7] Keith Krach, “10 of the Most Common Entrepreneurship Myths,” Medium, 23 May 2017.
[8] Enoch Omololu, “Do You Have What It Takes To Become An Entrepreneur? Use This Checklist,” Forbes, 14 June 2023.
[9] Conrad Persons, “Mind the Gap: Myth vs. Reality in the Entrepreneurial Realm,” Muse by Clio, 11 March 2024.

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