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4 Ridiculous Myths That Keep You From Being an Entrepreneur

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4 Ridiculous Myths That Keep You From Being an Entrepreneur

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?

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

Featured photo credit:  Businessman sitting at desk via Shutterstock

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Last Updated on August 25, 2021

Why Personal Branding Is Important to Your Career

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Why Personal Branding Is Important to Your Career

As a recruiter, I have met and interviewed hundreds of candidates who have no idea who they are.

Without a personal brand, candidates struggle to answer the question: “tell me about yourself—who are you?” They have no idea about who they are, what their strengths are, and how they can add value to the company. They present their CV’s believing that their CV is the key to their career success. In some ways, your CV still has its use. However, in today’s job market, you need more than a CV to stand out in a crowd.

According to Celinne Da Costa:[1]

“Personal brand is essentially your golden ticket to networking with the right people, getting hired for a dream job, or building an influential business.” She believes that “a strong personal brand allows you to stand out in an oversaturated marketplace by exposing desired audiences to your vision, skillset, and personality in a way that is strategically aligned with your career goals.”

A personal brand opens up your world to so many more career opportunities that you would never have been exposed to with just your CV.

What Is Your Personal Brand?

“Personal branding is how you distinctively market your uniqueness.” —Bernard Kelvin Clive

Today, the job market is very competitive and tough. Having a great CV will only let you go so far because everyone has a CV, but no one else has your distinct personal brand! It is your personal brand that differentiates you from everyone else and that is what people buy—you.

Your personal brand is your mark on the world. It is how people you interact with and the world see you. It is your legacy—it is more important than a business brand because your personal brand lasts forever.

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I have coached people who have very successful careers, and they come to me because they have suddenly found that they are not getting the opportunities or having the conversations that would them to their next role. They are having what I call a “career meltdown,” all because they have no personal brand.

A personal brand helps you become conscious of your differences and your uniqueness. It allows you to position yourself in a way that makes you stand out from the pack, especially among other potential job applicants.

Don’t get me wrong, having a great CV and a great LinkedIn profile is important. However, there are a few steps that you have to take to have a CV and LinkedIn profile that is aligned to who you are, the value you offer to the market, and the personal guarantee that you deliver results.

Building your personal brand is about strategically, creatively, and professionally presenting what makes you, you. Knowing who you are and the value you bring to the table enables you to be more informed, agile, and adaptable to the changing dynamic world of work. This is how you can avoid having a series of career meltdowns.

Your Personal Brand Is Essential for Your Career Success

In her article, Why Personal Branding Is More Important Than Ever, Caroline Castrillon outlines key reasons why a personal brand is essential for career success.

According to Castrillon,[2]

“One reason is that it is more popular for recruiters to use social media during the interview process. According to a 2018 CareerBuilder survey, 70% of employers use social media to screen candidates during the hiring process, and 43% of employers use social media to check on current employees.”

The first thing I do as a recruiter when I want to check out a candidate or coaching client is to look them up on LinkedIn or other social media platforms, such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Your digital footprint is the window that highlights to the world who you are. When you have no control over how you want to be seen, you are making a big mistake because you are leaving it up to someone else to make a judgment for you as to who you are.

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As Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, once said, “Your brand is what people say about you when you are not in the room.”

In her book, Becoming, Michelle Obama writes about the importance of having a personal brand and her journey to defining her personal brand. She wrote that:

“if you don’t get out there and define yourself, you’ll be quickly and inaccurately defined by others.”

When you have a personal brand, you are in control. You know exactly what people will say about you when you leave the room.

The magic of a personal brand is that gives you control over how you want to be seen in the world. Your confidence and self-belief enable you to leverage opportunities and make informed decisions about your career and your future. You no longer experience the frustrations of a career meltdown or being at a crossroads not knowing what to do next with your career or your life. With a personal brand, you have focus, clarity, and a strategy to move forward toward future success.

Creating your personal brand does not happen overnight. It takes a lot of work and self-reflection. You will be expected to step outside of your comfort zone not once, but many times.

The good news is that the more time you spend outside of your comfort zone, the more you will like being there. Being outside of your comfort zone is where you can test the viability of and fine-tune your personal brand.

5 Key Steps to Creating Your Personal Brand

These five steps will help you create a personal brand that will deliver you the results you desire with your career and in life.

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1. Set Your Personal Goals

What is it that you want to do in the next five years? What will your future self be doing in the next five to ten years? What is important to you? If you can answer these questions, then you are on the right path. If not, then you have to start thinking about them.

2. Create Your Unique Value Proposition

Create your unique value proposition by asking yourself these four questions:

  1. What are your personality features? What benefit do you offer people?
  2. Who are you and why do people enjoy working with you?
  3. What do you do and what do people want you to do for them? How do you solve their problems?
  4. What makes you different from others like you?

The answers to these questions will give you the information you need to create your professional story, which is the key step to creating your personal brand.

3. Write Your Professional Story

Knowing who you are, what you want, and the unique value you offer is essential to you creating your professional story. People remember stories. Your personal story incorporates your value proposition and tells people who you are and what makes you unique. This is what people will remember about you.

4. Determine Which Platforms Will Support Your Personal Brand

Decide which social media accounts and online platforms will best represent your brand and allow you to share your voice. In a professional capacity, having a LinkedIn profile and a CV that reflects your brand is key to your positioning in relation to role opportunities. People will be connecting with you because they will like the story you are telling.

5. Become Recognized for Sharing Your Knowledge and Expertise

A great way for you to promote yourself is by sharing knowledge and helping others. This is where you prove you know your stuff and you gain exposure for doing so. You can do this through social media, writing, commenting, video, joining professional groups, networking, etc. Find your own style and uniqueness and use it to attract clients, the opportunities, or the jobs you desire.

The importance of having a personal brand is not going to go away. In fact, it is the only way where you can stand out and be unique in a complex changing world of work. If you don’t have a personal brand, someone will do it for you. If you let this happen, you have no control and you may not like the story they create.

Standing out from others takes time and investment. Most people cannot make the change by themselves, and this is where engaging a personal brand coach is a viable option to consider.

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As a personal brand coach, working with my clients to create their personal brand is my passion. I love the fact that we can work together to create a personal story that defines exactly what people will say when you leave the room.

Other People’s Stories

Listening to other people’s stories is a great way to learn. In his article, 7 TED Talks About Personal Branding, Rafael Dos Santos presents the best Ted Talks where speakers share their stories about the “why,” “what,” and “how” of personal branding.((GuidedPR: 7 TED Talks About Personal Branding))

Take some time out to listen to these speakers sharing their stories and thoughts about personal branding. You will definitely learn so much about how you can start your journey of defining yourself and taking control of your professional and personal life.

Your personal brand, without a doubt, is your secret weapon to your career success. As Michelle Obama said,

“your story is what you have, what you will always have. It is something to own.”

So, go own your story. Go on the journey to create your personal brand that defines who you are, highlights your uniqueness, and the value you offer to the world.

Featured photo credit: Austin Distel via unsplash.com

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