September is a wonderful month of the year! Kids head back to school. Colleges open their doors to a new generation of scientists and engineers. Businesses prepare for a productive 4th quarter as the fiscal year draws to a close. There is excitement in the air everywhere you look! I positively adore September especially as it has signaled many new beginnings for me.
Almost exactly a year ago, I ended my last job in Corporate America. In spite of having worked with a coach prior to my exit, I hardly knew what to expect in the days and months that were to follow.
But I have to admit that this past year has been nothing short of surprising. There have been many wonderful things about this year, but most of all it has been the kind of hands on learning experience I will never receive anywhere else.
Today, I bust some of the myths about entrepreneurship while sharing accompanying life lessons.
I would love to hear from you! Please take a minute to leave your comment below. Are there any myths about entrepreneurship that not listed here that you have successfully busted? Which life lessons resonated most with you?
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Due to the length of the post (it had to be written!), I have included links to the sections below. Feel free to skip to the myth that you might be most interested in exploring.
Myth #1 : Failure is Absolute
Myth #2 : Your Work Must Be Based On Your Education
Myth #3 : Entrepreneurship Is Easy
Myth #4 : Passive Income Is The Ultimate Goal
Myth #5 : You Have To Be Relatable
Myth #6 : You Have To Find The Right Project Immediately
Myth #7 : You Have To Commit To Every Project You Undertake
Myth #8 : You Have To Learn To Multitask
Myth #9 : Everyone Will Support Your Dreams
Myth #10 : All Moms Who Work From Home Are Stay At Home Moms
Myth #11 : $100 Is All You Need To Start A Company
Myth #12 : You Must Expect Immediate Returns
Myth #13 : You Must Adhere To 9 To 5 Schedule
Myth #14 : Your Success Must Be Exactly Like Everyone Else’s Success
Myth #15 : It Is All About The Money
Myth #16 : You Can Have It All
Myth #17 : You Can Do It All
In over 200 years of American history, companies have risen and fallen, only to rise again stronger and more determined. As individuals we don’t find as many role models who are willing to admit to failure. American and Indian cultures are similar in their definition of what constitutes success or failure.
A person is considered successful if they make right choices in life, attend the right schools, opt for the right field and continue to grow in that field until they retire. An individual must have a career and must “keep at it” no matter what.
I have believed this definition up until now without questioning its validity. But not any more!
Contrary to what you may hear in the hallowed halls of your conglomerate, failure is far from absolute. Failure often times is not really a failure at all. It is a divergence from the normal path; a way to build a better resilient version of you that will endure in the long run.
I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.
I have observed that there is a dichotomy between our education and career. Now more than ever before people are choosing to veer away from their field of education. They are beginning to lean into work they love.
If you cannot imagine forsaking your education, you don’t have to make a choice between love and duty. You can continue to build both into your career.
My entire view of the universe revolves around science. As much as I love inspirational writing, I realize that writing and work in general (for me) has to be founded upon the principles of science.
However, as appealing as a return to science and pursuing a doctorate would be, I have decided to put that on hold for now. I am sure that there is an immense of scope of fascinating work outside of academia.
After all one can achieve mastery through experience just as easily and much faster through self education than by spending thousands of dollars on a graduate program.
Don’t be fooled into thinking that quitting your job is a fashion statement or becoming an entrepreneur is glamorous. I won’t deny that there is some glory in self-employment, but not at first.
When I first quit my job, I was overwhelmed by all the options:
- Franchising (I spoke with a local franchise owner)
- Sales (my neighbor is a sales director for a major brand)
- Freelance writing
- Many others…
I abandoned many of these options because they weren’t congruent with my personality.
Franchising is interesting; the idea that you are able to purchase a portion of an established business, and simply build a customer base sounds appealing. Selling products has it advantages too; there are a lot of perks and there is a low startup cost.
My advice to you if you are considering entrepreneurship is this – you can pursue either of these two options if you only want to run a business.
If you are hoping to just earn an income then freelancing might be the perfect fit.
However if you are looking to build a brand – think Gretchen Rubin, Marie Forleo or Chris Guillebeau – then you will want to stay the course of entrepreneurship and build a business of your own from the ground up.
I know it sounds daunting. The good news is that you are not alone, there are plenty of coaches and mentors out there who can guide you.
Passive income has gained a bad reputation over the years. The web littered with sites that provide canned information with a liberal dose of Google AdSense.
What most people don’t realize is that there is no such thing as passive income. Maybe there was back in the early days of the web. Not any more! Google ranking is more complex than ever before. Creating content that will propel you to the first page of Google takes a lot of work.
Any income takes work. It takes hours to write a good article, it takes weeks to create a well written eBook, and it takes months to create a product that will help people. Passive income is not the ultimate goal, income derived from hard work that supports your priorities is.
Pat Flynn is an entrepreneur I highly respect. He guides the rest of us through his journey into online business; but what shines through is the fact that his passive income supports his priorities – his wife and his family. People often don’t realize that Pat spent years working on gaining knowledge, prior to starting his passive income journey.
What I have learned over the last year is this: learn to value your skills and use them consciously every single day. It is the only way to ensure that you are able to provide for yourself and your family. Call it passionate income if you will, taking knowledge you have gained and passionately making it available to everyone.
Passive income is passionately active income that bears fruit over a lifetime.
This one is a doozy. A very dear friend made a casual remark recently that she found my writing “unrelatable”.
First of all, the etymologist that I am, I had to understand what relatable meant. You can read all about the meaning of the word here. Secondly, the ability for anyone to relate to you is completely immaterial and irrelevant.
Yes, it is true that in order to gain a following and to become an authority, your readers and clients have to be able to connect with your story to some extent. But remember that not everyone feels the same way you do. Their references, their values and their dreams might be entirely different! How in the world can they relate to your story?
And just because some people don’t believe in your dreams, doesn’t mean you must begin to distrust them. It doesn’t mean you must stop loving your dreams. The ones who do believe in your dreams, will not only support you, but they will be eager to join you on your journey!
Also remember that “relatable” is the death of remarkable. Your dreams and your true potential are what make you remarkable. You are doing yourself no favors by attempting to be relatable. Do you really want to adhere to the path that is typically expected of someone like you?
So go ahead and make the decision today to be radically different. Do not be afraid that you are “unrelatable”; choose instead to be remarkable.
I sweated profusely over selecting my first project. I settled on a website related to the wedding industry. You will never hear me refer to it again because it launched, met a lukewarm reception and was gracefully decommissioned.
It was a great learning experience; I was able to work with an awesome developer on Elance and create a beautiful site. Let us just say that there were other sites that served my target audience.
I for one do not subscribe to this myth. In Every project is a learning opportunity. You will find the right project, it just may not happen immediately!
Don’t be discouraged, be smart and continue to search for new opportunities.
There are many roads to entrepreneurship (see #3 above). If you decide to commit to every single idea or project you will never to get to the 1000 follow up projects that could yield greater results.
Be audacious enough to try something new, but be practical enough to measure and evaluate your success.
I recommend employing a “test it and adopt it or quit it” method. If you feel drawn to a project or an opportunity and it fits your talents, see if you can commit to it for a month. At the end of the month assess your progress.
If you find that you are none the wiser for having undertaken the project, I suggest you move on to the next one on your list.
Please cease this awful habit at once! Multitasking does no good for your brain.
The human brain operates best when it is focused on the task at hand. Any distraction such as switching between tasks can set your progress back.
Not to mention the snowballing of distraction – email leads to another email, which leads to a Facebook post or response, which leads to another task, before you know it you have wasted one whole hour with nothing to show for it.
Choose instead to develop routines for your work, which will help you achieve a state of flow.
Perish the thought! At the outset, don’t expect anyone other than your spouse and your best friend to support your dream. Even that may be expecting too much!
People will view your dreams with skepticism not because they don’t care for you, but because their worldview contains no reference for the kinds of dreams you nurture. You can’t win them over with your explanations, protestations or proof. They will continue to persist in their opinions. All you can do is believe in your dreams!
When I started this journey, I wasn’t even sure that I believed in my dreams. It was not because they were far fetched, but because I doubted their sincerity. I was suspicious that it was another dream that my social self was desperate to accomplish – such as when I was determined to become the best engineer or when I interviewed with the DEQ for an analyst position because “I was passionate about environmental quality” (which I still am, but there are better ways to help the environment than work for the DEQ).
So, by all means question your dreams, test them to make sure that they are consistent with your values. But no matter what, be faithful to your dreams. Guard your dreams like you guard your love.
God bless all moms, especially moms who dedicate their lives to their children! Unfortunately, I am not one of those moms.
I had to make my choice apparent to everyone including myself that being a SAHM was not my goal (as lovely as it sounds).
When you are deciding to work from home, it is essential to set boundaries. You have to declare your goals and your operating principles (to borrow a corporate term). Children need routine and order. It is best to set them and yourself up for success by making those boundaries clear.
Kids are used to seeing other Moms who work at a traditional job or stay at home. It is best to explain why you are choosing a different path and why your work matters to you. Share some of your dreams with your children. They make wonderful cheerleaders! Plant the early seeds of an entrepreneurial life.
This is total and utter nonsense. Yes, it is true that most online businesses can be started for less than $100. But if you take the time cost and other costs (childcare, networking, technology tools, other business resources) into account, $100 barely makes a dent.
After my initial investment in the wedding project, I have been cautious in incurring additional expenses.
However, here are things I continue to invest in – technology tools that fill a need that cannot be addressed by free software and business resources (classes/courses/events). I choose not to invest in – tools that are “cool” and add little value, or opting for a premium service when the basic version is free or fancy graphics/logo for my business.
I am sure as I start earning an income I can invest in the extras. I recommend you to exercise the same caution while you are starting out as an entrepreneur. Spend judiciously and don’t forget to save those receipts!
The biggest myth of all when you are starting a new venture is that you can expect an immediate return on your work. After all this is online business we are speaking of. Shouldn’t a site yield thousands of dollars in a matter of months?
The time frame of a return will depend on the type of entrepreneurship you have chosen. If you are adopting the pay per hour model (freelancing), you can expect fast results.
However, if you choose to offer services or create products for your customers (both of which I intend to do), it may take anywhere from several months to a year or longer to yield any returns. In the meantime, you can bridge the income gap by tapping into your savings, or opting for temporary work.
I advocate focusing on building a solid foundation for your business.
I chose to devote my entire first year to achieving clarity on my intent and purpose. I began with the true work; I started by examining my beliefs, my references and my talents. I asked the questions about what constituted an authentic and congruent life?
If you build any new venture or relationship on a faulty foundation, it too will crumble. It takes a lot of courage to not only admit your failure, but also to admit the truth of your identity and your dreams to yourself. Once you get past the toil of laying your groundwork, you will uncover pure gold.
So, immediate results have been known to emerge, but don’t count on them! Clear away all the debris so that you can start anew with a solid foundation for a brighter future.
I was interested to learn that the original 9 to 5 schedule came from the time of industrialization. Even though I was in Corporate America for 14 years, I never got used to the ridiculous schedule of having to wait until 9 am to commence work. Don’t even speak to me of the necessity of beginning every day with a meeting while it should have been spent tackling the most critical tasks!
If and when you choose to become an entrepreneur, your work schedule is at your discretion. You can work early in the morning, late at night or even on weekends. It is all up to you. And those meetings, they can be accomplished via Skype or Face Time in half the time!
I personally prefer to get an early start around 5:30 am, get my kids off to school between 7 am to 8:30 am. I like to take a couple of breaks during the day, I may run errands if I have no meetings and I usually wrap things up around 5 pm. I find that I am at my creative best early in the morning or late at night; there is something magical about working when everyone else is asleep. Daytime is best suited for “time boxed” work.
Find a schedule that suits your energy level; one that will enhance and not diminish your productivity.
The world is eager to provide you any number of definitions of success. Don’t believe that you are a failure simply because your success is unlike others’. Your success is based on your dreams and your potential.
Be inspired by others’ success. Don’t envy or despair because you are different.
Perhaps you are satisfied with being an excellent consultant or an inspiring creative coach to a select few while someone else acquires thousands of clients. Perhaps you would rather write one long thoughtful article rather than blog daily.
Don’t attempt to be a pale imitation of someone else. Own your compelling story; aspire to be original. Celebrate even your smallest successes, I have found that they tend to multiply when you honor them.
Although, I believe that an authentic life is a prosperous one, one doesn’t choose authenticity or entrepreneurship just for money. One must do it for love.
See we humans are hardwired for love. We want to do things that move us away from pain towards pleasure. I didn’t understand this at first because I was in so much mental pain towards the end of my corporate days. But really what I was craving was to get back to a state of love. I was ready to help others in a meaningful manner.
At firms or companies, during a great week, we may work with 20 to 30 people. Out of those 30 people, we may touch the lives of may be one or two.
The reason we talk about dreams and goals is not because we are selfish, but because we want to help more than those 20 or 30 people, we want to touch more than those one or two. The reason we dream is because we want to share our humble gifts with the entire world!
I am ever grateful to my parents for having raised me with integrity, honesty and a deep appreciation for excellence. It has always been my belief that if you love who you are and what you do, money will follow. You can only do your best work with love. Build love into the foundation of everything that you do.
You can have it all, just not at once. You can have it all, not just to the same degree. You can have it all, but just not be able to give everything your very best.
As the saying goes, “something has got to give”. There will be many times when you have to make sacrifices.
The key is to gain clarity on the options that are available and your priorities. If you decide that being financially independent and having your own business is adequate for you then by all means focus on that. If you want instead to build a perennial act, remember that it might not happen overnight.
This is one of the biggest myths around is that any entrepreneur should be able to do it all. That is completely untrue. Not everyone can do everything well.
Consultants have to wear different hats on any given day. It is true of entrepreneurs as well.
We all blog to some extent. We may meet with clients and present proposals. We may even have several projects in the pipeline. But the bottom line is that none of us can do everything exceptionally well.
That is why, you must determine how you want to serve the world. How can you do so in a remarkable way?
Remember that you can always ask for help when you need it.
Help will always be given (at Hogwarts) to those who ask for it.
Do I still enjoy entrepreneurship? Yes! My husband had given me 1 year. I decided to give myself one extra year, because after all doing this with 3 kids in tow is no easy task. The first year may have been all about foundations and lessons, but make no mistake that I will be back to post about my successes. In the meantime, I wish you well in the pursuit of your dreams.
If you have persisted till the end of this long post, I sincerely thank you! This post was begging to be written!
These busted myths are no more than pixels on a page if they don’t bring some insight or positive change into your life. Remember that entrepreneurship is a different way of life. It might not be for everyone, but it just might be the ticket to your success!