Innovative, forward thinking and successful – all buzzwords that are associated with entrepreneurs, however there are many stereotypes and assumptions about this demographic of people that may not necessarily ring true. When you hear mention of entrepreneurs, what image springs to mind?
Entrepreneurs Are Not Afraid to Take Risks
Because entrepreneurs go it alone, and often invest all of their time and financial resources into an idea before they are guaranteed a return on investment, they are seen as high risk-takers, possessing no fear of the unknown and willing to take a gamble on everything in their lives. These risks are never based on uneducated decisions however, and often come in the firm of actionable steps taken following extensive background research. The entrepreneur knows that there is an element of risk involved in what they are doing, sure, however this a calculated risk, not a reckless one. The entrepreneur makes decisions based on situations where they determine that they are likely to succeed, and then do everything they can to minimize the risk factors. The entrepreneur knows that to be blinded by the fear of taking risks, or of the unknown, is to miss out on opportunities.
Entrepreneurs Have No Social Lives
While it’s certainly true that entrepreneurs may have to sacrifice elements of their personal lives while they are in the process of getting their business ideas off the ground and turning a profit, that doesn’t mean that they are necessarily the reclusive types that never enjoy any personal time, or whom put work ahead of everything else. Typically the early stages of setting up a business require a lot of time investment and so some flexibility of schedule, and a willingness to work more hours than the typical 40 hour week is commonplace in the first few weeks. It is estimated that the majority of new businesses and startups do not turn a profit for the first 2-3 years that they are in existence. However this necessity to work harder than the usual individual is not exclusive to entrepreneurs and in fact it affects many high flyers in the corporate world in the same way also (executives, middle managers, etc). In the example of the entrepreneur, he or she typically has more control over their schedule and work-life balance, meaning that if there is an important family or personal event that they do not want to miss, they have the ability to reshuffle their work schedule accordingly. Though their work is challenging, entrepreneurs carve out time for their own private endeavours and down time too.
Entrepreneurs are Loners
Perhaps a stereotype impacted by the fact that so many notable entrepreneurs that have emerged in recent years from the tech and science sectors (Zuckerberg, etc), entrepreneurs are often deemed as being antisocial loners (an assumption not helped by point 2 on this list). The word “entrepreneur” conjures up images of a tech nerd working on a genius idea in his parents basement while shunning the rest of mankind until eventually his idea is discovered, praised and makes him millions of dollars. The fact is that many entrepreneurs are confident, effective communicators as they would need to be. After All, the entrepreneur is at the forefront of his/her business, and in the early days, they alone will be responsible for supplier and client outreach, recruitment of staff, sending video messages to clients and potential customers, etc. Many entrepreneurs are also part of communities and clubs. For example, Wozniak and Jobs of Apple fame were active members of computer clubs in their universities and social circles where drinks, good times, and ideas were exchanged.
Entrepreneurs Just Want to Be Rich
Entrepreneurship is certainly not a get rich quick scheme. If anything, it’s the long, challenging and more difficult route to success. Sure, entrepreneurship offers a person financial freedom and an independence of schedule and workload away from the corporate world, but that doesn’t come immediately or even quickly. Entrepreneurship involves giving up all of the safety and security of a job, where a regular income and perks (healthcare, pension, etc) are proven, and starting completely from scratch elsewhere. In the beginning, the entrepreneur may be operating at a loss, having to invest all of their own finances into their business to get things going.
There’s certainly no harm in entrepreneurs seeing wealth and monetary success as motivators or end goals but typically these things come much later. In the beginning, it’s not driving a Porsche, it’s driving a clapped out old banger, but the entrepreneur progresses based on a belief and passion for their ideas.
People are Born Entrepreneurs
The assumption that people are born entrepreneurs draws into the whole nature versus nurture debate. People often think that entrepreneurial types are born with such an independent, business-minded streak, however that isn’t always the case. Entrepreneurs can become entrepreneurs at any age or stage in life. They are not necessarily teenagers that shun a college education in favor of taking an alternative route, they could also be individuals that have invested a significant period of their lives into working for a company, observed their operation, and then had ideas for setting out alone.