To be an entrepreneur, you have to have the spirit of a pirate and the execution skills of a Navy SEAL — at least according to MIT instructor Bill Aulet.
But living up to the common conception of an entrepreneur can be overwhelming, and it’s important to understand what founders are really like. Read on to debunk six myths about entrepreneurs.
- Entrepreneurs are the smartest, most high-achieving people in the room
This myth is actually perpetuated by entrepreneurs themselves, who are “rewriting history,” Aulet said. But in fact, it’s rare than an entrepreneur was also a school valedictorian.
Once they figure out what they’re passionate about, entrepreneurs tend to reject everything else, meaning that they often get great grades in one class, and not in the others. Some even drop out of school — just look at Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg.
While they may be accomplished businesspeople, entrepreneurs certainly don’t garner the highest academic accolades.
- Entrepreneurs make things happen by themselves.
If you plan to be an entrepreneur, you need to be constantly looking for people to join your team, Aulet said. As he put it, “it is not an individual sport — it’s a team sport.”
Research shows that teams are more likely to succeed than individuals. Even if you have just two people working together, they’re more likely to succeed than just one. Three is better than two;four is better than three, and so on.
- Entrepreneurs are born, not made.
Some people might seem like natural-born leaders, but there’s no gene that makes someone an entrepreneur. It’s a skill that can be acquired, so anyone can do it.
Entrepreneurs don’t tend to come from entrepreneurial parents, either. If you want it badly enough, your gene pool certainly isn’t holding you back.
- Entrepreneurs love risk
This is a common myth, but it’s not entirely false.
You won’t find entrepreneurstaking bets at a casino, for example, because they prefer to be in control of their own destiny. But Aulet points out that they do like to take calculated risks when they know they have an advantage.
If they’ve got a competitive edge, they go for it — but they also think long-term and “de-risk” everything else.
- Successful entrepreneurs are charismatic
Success is about effecting change, and effecting change comes down to leadership. Charisma won’t hurt your chances of being successful, but there’s also no strict correlation between success and charisma.
Having a clear mission, however, is crucial. Success comes from several things, Aulet says:
- Having a vision
- Understanding what’s going on in the world
- Having relationships to make change happen
- Developing a vision for taking your asset state to a future state that doesn’t yet exist
- Doing it all with a personal signature
You’ll certainly have to be driven, but you do not have to necessarily be charismatic.
- Entrepreneurs are undisciplined
Look at any successfulentrepreneur, and you’ll find that they are actually quite disciplined, Aulet says. It’s an essential trait — you’re going up against the competition with very little resources, time or cash flow. All you’ve got is passion, and obstacles require discipline to overcome.
Yes, being a successful entrepreneur will take hard work, but it’s not an unattainable goal. Check out the video for even more tips about what it takes to run your own startup.
Image credit: CC by Sean