Have you ever thought about starting a company and being an entrepreneur, only to decide it was “too risky”, that you “didn’t have a good enough idea”, or that you “can’t succeed without being a programmer?”.
Those excuses are complete junk.
Let’s tackle 4 of the most common myths, right here, right now:
Myth #1: You need a great idea to succeed in entrepreneurship.
Think the hardest part of starting a company is coming up with a great idea? Hell no! Coming up with an idea is the easiest part—I think of great, potentially profitable business ideas on a daily basis.
Ideas are the easiest part because something else is much more difficult, and far more important:
Can you actually execute your idea? Can you actually do something to bring the startup idea to life?
Ideas are worth less than a role of single-ply toilet paper bought on sale at the dollar store. Ideas are all talk. What I want to know is: Can you, and have you actually done something about it?
Let’s look at what the experts have to say about this:
Derek Severs explains that ideas are just a multiplier of execution, with execution being far more valuable. Paul Graham, founder of the world-famous Y Combinator incubator tells potential applicants explicitly:
“I care more about the founders than the idea, because most of the startups we fund will change their idea significantly. If a group of founders seemed impressive enough, I’d fund them with no idea.”
Do you see the punchline here? Action is what matters. You need great people to act. Instead of focusing all of your time on coming up with an idea like “the next Facebook, only better,” focus on finding a great team, and figuring out how to actualize.
Myth #2: You have to quit your job & take on a lot of risk in order to be successful at startups and entrepreneurship.
Plenty of entrepreneur blog articles talk about “being ready to take the big leap into entrepreneurship” by quitting your day job to work full-time on your startup.
Seriously, don’t worry about that crap.
Most people I know who have started companies did so while in school, or as a side project while working full-time: one friend started a nationally-recognized DJ company; the other started a TechStars-funded robot development company. None of these people were immediately met with this “quit your job NOW NOW NOW or lose your chance forever!” situation.
Clearly, if your efforts are successful, you’ll l get to the point where you’ll need to decide whether or not you want to quit your job and jump into working full-time on your startup. Until then, there’s plenty of work that you can do part-time.
It comes down to having a plan: plan to work on your startup as a part-time endeavor until it makes sense to make the leap.
Myth #3: You need to be a programmer to create a startup, or you’re not worth a hell of a lot.
“Since I can’t program, I guess that means no startup for me.”
No, no, no. This one is the biggest lie of them all. Every time I hear this, I want to Frisbee-throw my laptop out the window and into the parked car down the street. I can’t count the number of friends who told me they were learning programming so they could create a startup. Come on, guys.
Technical people may want you to believe that the value’s in the programming, but think about where the risk lies: what are the odds of being able to program your idea? Basically 100%. What are the odds of being able to find customers? A hell of a lot less.
If you’re the business guy, your job is actually harder than the programmer’s is.
Programming is about 2% of the pie. How about finding customers? How about making sure they even like what you’re making? Management? Raising money? Product concept development? Instead of crying that you can’t program, ask this instead: “do I bring something of value to the table?” For example, are you an expert in your domain? Are you a proven sales / marketing / business development person? If you have that value, you’re on the right track.
The founders of Foursquare, Box.com, and Pandora, for example, were not technical people. Go find some people to help you program (or perhaps be willing to join their venture), and don’t sell out and go “learn to code.”
As a side note, I’m not saying you shouldn’t know about programming or you should never learn it—I’m just saying that you should focus on building and displaying your own value, rather than just pretending to be good at something you’re not.
Myth #4: 90% of businesses will fail within X years, so that means the odds are bad for your startup too.
Businesses fail for a reason, not for a statistic.
You know that feeling you sometimes get when you walk into a new restaurant? The “I don’t think this place is going to be around much longer…” feeling, and it fails 2 months later? Do you think that’s an accident? Alternatively, is it because you intuitively sense that there’s something missing?
Along these lines, read this great article about one person’s failure of starting a coffee shop in NYC that proves my point perfectly. Note how they followed their romantic vision of a “cute, quaint” coffee shop without caring about learning how to successfully execute a coffee shop business: it wasn’t by chance that they failed.
You’ll make mistakes, and failure will be a part of the equation. It was for me. But where I was different, was that I was smart enough to know how clueless I was, so I took smart risks, learned, and improved from there.
Rather than worrying about failure, read startup literature, learn, and though that, minimize your chances of failure and bolster your case for success.
So, Stop Making Excuses, and Start Executing!
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