As Mark Twain puts it, “The secret of getting ahead is getting started”. Being an entrepreneur is never easy – it requires countless hours, meetings, and a never-ending series of obstacles. But, the rewards of being one are plenty – you can work your own hours, be your own boss, and live your dream. The key is to get started and take a leap of faith. You’ve probably heard chatter around what entrepreneurship entails, particularly being a woman entrepreneur. How much of what you hear is actually true? We’d like to debunk some common myths and remind you that nothing is ever impossible, including being an entrepreneur.
Myth #1: Entrepreneurs are born.
The way that our culture talks about entrepreneurs often suggests that there is somehow a connection between genetics and your ability to be an entrepreneur. The truth is, entrepreneurs are not born, they are made. You don’t need to be a creative genius from birth to become a successful entrepreneur. Entrepreneurship requires hands-on experience and looking at the world through a critical lens. Successful and well-known entrepreneurs do have some features in common – they are dedicated and are committed to their business idea. In fact, according to Mark Healy from the Globe and Mail, most entrepreneurs don’t even start their businesses until they’re in their 40s. So if you think you weren’t born to be an entrepreneur, look at yourself in the mirror and remind yourself that you can train yourself to be one!
Myth #2: Entrepreneurs finance their businesses with venture capital and they need a large amount of funding.
When people think of entrepreneurs, they often turn to places like Silicon Valley or shows like Dragon’s Den and Shark Tank. The truth is that these entrepreneurs are part of a minority of people – the vast majority of entrepreneurs use their personal financing, friends and family, or turn to financial institutions. Statistics from AlleyWatch show that in the USA, over 57% of start-up funding comes from personal savings. While there are some start-ups that do require larger amounts of funding, most entrepreneurs need a smaller amount to get their business off the ground. In fact, AWE offers a fantastic loan program that is designed to help women entrepreneurs succeed. Don’t be afraid to seek external funding when you need it, but don’t be intimidated – there are many options out there for small to medium sized businesses!
Myth #3: You can only be an entrepreneur if you “reinvent the wheel”.
Both Uber and Lyft provide similar transportation services, yet Uber was developed three years before Lyft. Despite being variations of the same service, their founders are all still considered entrepreneurs. There is the common myth that you can’t be an entrepreneur unless you invent something new or “change the game”. However, it’s far more common for individuals to take an already existing idea and add a new dimension to it. Entrepreneurship is about finding the market gap and areas that existing companies are lacking in and tailoring your offering to accommodate for those shortcomings. Most markets aren’t fully saturated and you can usually find a niche market that is interested in your product. Don’t focus simply on revolutionizing the industry, focus on how to add value to the lives of your customers and do what others aren’t.
Myth #4: Women are “too emotional” to be good entrepreneurs.
This is the classic argument that women are somehow less capable than others because they are more likely to show their emotions. This is nothing more than a myth. BDC released a video that discusses myths related to women entrepreneurs, and this is one that comes up and is discussed in depth. Being an entrepreneur doesn’t mean that you have to be ruthless and emotionless. Use your emotions to your advantage – they will be what set you apart from others. Part of entrepreneurship is your passion and dedication to your idea, so don’t be afraid to show this! These positive emotions will drive people towards your business and will make you successful.
All entrepreneurs are different and each one will experience their own journey. Entrepreneurs dream big but can also remain realistic and focused on their goals. Remember that you are in control of your business and with the right mix of passion and dedication you can be a successful entrepreneur!