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4 Ridiculous Myths That Keep You From Being an Entrepreneur

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 February 11, 2021

10 Secrets of Making Every Presentation Fun, Engaging, and Enjoyable

10 Secrets of Making Every Presentation Fun, Engaging, and Enjoyable

Not a lot of people are good at public speaking. You could even say that virtually everyone needs to get some practice, and preferably good guidance, before they can learn to stay calm when facing a room full of people. Having all eyes on you is an uncomfortable experience and it takes time to get used to. However, even if you can manage to control your stage fright and stay focused, it doesn’t necessarily mean that your presentation won’t put people to sleep. This is usually the case with long presentations on a very dull subject, with the presenter speaking in a monotone voice and dimming the lights to play a PowerPoint presentation.

You have to work hard to develop the right skills

If you want to be remembered and actually get people engaged, you need to make your presentation fun and enjoyable, without coming off as corny or desperate to please. I know, it doesn’t sound that easy at all! A good presentation during a promotional event or given to an important client can be a game changer for your business, so it is easy to get stressed out and fail to perform all that well. Luckily, giving an interesting lecture is something that can be practiced and perfected. There is plenty of advice out there on the topic, but let’s look at the most important aspects of giving a memorable and fun presentation.

1. Make your presentation short and sweet

With very long, meandering speeches you tend to lose the audience pretty early on, and from then on out it’s just a test of endurance for the few bravest listeners. Not only will people’s attention start to drop rapidly after sitting and listening to you talk for 30 minutes, but you also risk watering down your core ideas and leaving your audience with little in the way of key phrases and important bits of information to take away from the whole ordeal. Famous speakers throughout history have known the importance of condensing the information by using well thought out sentences and short phrases loaded with meaning.

JFK’s famous: ”It’s not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country,” expresses so much in very few words and gets the audience thinking. Ancient Spartans, for example were famous for their quick, dry wit, often demolishing their opponent’s argument with a single word or phrase. You’ll want to channel that ancient spirit and be as concise as possible when preparing your presentation.

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2. Open up with a good ice breaker

At the beginning, you are new to the audience. There is no rapport, no trust and the atmosphere is fairly neutral. Even if some of the people there know you personally, the concept of you as an authority on a particular matter giving a speech will be foreign to them. The best way to encourage a warm and friendly atmosphere is to get some kind of emotional response out of the audience right at the beginning. It doesn’t matter what emotion it is, you just need to connect with them on a more personal level. It can be shock, curiosity, laughter, knowing smirks, nervousness – whatever gets them out of that initial feeling of indifference. There are different kinds of effective ice-breakers, but generally speaking, the most successful ones utilize one of these tactics:

  • Joking
  • Tugging on their heart strings
  • Dropping a bombastic statement
  • Telling an interesting and relevant anecdote
  • Using a metaphor or drawing comparisons

You can make a small, self-deprecating comment, stir the presentation one way and then suddenly surprise the audience, use sarcasm, open up with a short childhood story that taught you a lesson, quote a famous person and elaborate on it from personal experience, use an inspirational anecdote or hit them with a bit of nostalgia. Just remember to keep it short and move on once you’ve gotten a reaction.

3. Keep things simple and to the point

Once you’re done warming up the crowd you can ease them into the core concepts and important ideas that you will be presenting. Keep the same presentation style thoughout. If you’ve started off a bit ironic, using dry wit, you can’t just jump into a boring monologue. If you’ve started off with a bang, telling a couple of great little jokes and getting the crowd riled up, you have to keep them happy by throwing in little jokes here and there and being generally positive and energetic during the presentation. You need a certain structure that you won’t deviate too far from at any point. A good game plan consists of several important points that need to be addressed efficiently. This means moving on from one point to another in a logical manner, coming to a sound conclusion and making sure to accentuate the key information.

4. Use a healthy dose of humor

Some of the best speeches and presentations in the world, which have been heard and viewed by millions, all feature plenty of humor. No matter the subject, a great speaker will use natural charisma, humor and beautiful language to convey their points and get the crowd excited about what they are saying. A great example of building rapport with the audience through the use of humor is Barrack Obama talking about the government building Iron Man.

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It is silly and fun, and absolutely not something that you would expect from a man in a position of power speaking in such a serious setting – and it’s exactly why it works. The more serious the situation and the bigger the accent on proper social behavior, the harder your jokes will hit.

5. Try to tell a story instead of ranting

Some people can do all of the above things right and still manage to turn their short and fun little presentation into a chaotic mess of information. You don’t want your speech to look like you just threw a bunch of information in a blender in no particular order. To avoid rambling, create a strong structure. Start with the ice breaker, introduce the core concepts and your goals briefly, elaborate on the various points in a bit more detail, draw logical conclusions and leave your audience with a clear takeaway message. You want to flow naturally from one part to the next like you are telling a big story chapter by chapter.

6. Practice your delivery

Standing in front of the mirror and practicing a speech or presentation is a technique as old as mirrors – well, come to think of it, as old as human speech, since you can see yourself reflected in any clear and calm body of water – and that means that it is tried and true. The theory is incredibly simple, yet the real problem is actually putting in the effort day in and day out. Work on your posture, your tone of voice, accent, pauses between sentences and facial expressions. The most important thing is to talk slowly and loudly enough to be heard and understood clearly. Many famous speakers, such as Demosthenes and King George VI, overcame speech impediments through hard work.

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7. Move around and use your hands

Although you won’t instill confidence in your project if you are very jittery, moving around erratically, not knowing what to do with your hands and making fast movements, standing dead still can be just as bad. You shouldn’t be afraid to use your arms and hands when talking as it makes you seem more passionate and confident. The same goes for moving around and taking up some space. However, try to make slower, calculated and deliberate movements. You want your movements to seem powerful, yet effortless. You can achieve this through practice.

8. Engage the audience by making them relate

Sometimes you will lose the audience somewhat in techno-babble, numbers, graphs and abstract ideas. At that point it is important to reel them back in using some good, old-fashioned storytelling. Make comparisons to events from everyday life that most people are more than familiar with. By making things look simple, not only will you help your audience get a better understanding of the subject by enabling them to visualize the information more clearly, you will also draw a connection between you. After all, you are all just regular people with similar experience, you just happen to be performing different roles at the moment.

9. Use funny images in your slides

Although slides are not really necessary at all times, if you do need them to make your point and present your information more effectively, it’s best to liven them up. They say that facts aren’t always black and white, and your presentation should reflect this. Add a bit of color, make the information stand out and use an interesting animation to switch from slide to slide. You can use the slides to add some more humor, both in terms of the text and the images. An image that is used to elicit a positive response needs to be funny within the context of what you are discussing. For example, if you are discussing the topic of authority, an image of Eric Cartman from South Park in a police uniform, demanding that you respect his “authoritah,” is a nice way to have a bit of fun and lighten things up.

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10. End on a more serious note

When all is said and done you will want the audience to remember the core concepts and keep thinking about what you have said after the presentation is over. This is why you should let things naturally calm down and end with an important idea, quote or even a question. Plant a seed in their mind and make them think. Let us turn to Patrick Henry for a great way to end a speech: “Is life so dear or peace so sweet as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death.”

As you can see, there is quite a bit to learn when it comes to giving a good presentation, one that is both memorable and fun. Be sure to work on your skills tirelessly and follow in the footsteps of great orators.

Featured photo credit: Austin Distel via unsplash.com

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