In a class filled with aspiring entrepreneurs, a teacher once asked “Who would build a company as soon as they leave this college?”, just a handful of students agreed. He prodded on, and was determined to found out why more than half of his class wouldn’t want to work for themselves. The students answered immediately, and each voice was drowned by another, until the professor couldn’t hear anything more than a cacophonic sea of voices. So, he asked them to write their answers down.
Upon collecting and looking at each slip of paper, he found that his students had been swayed by not just rumors they read online, but an array of misconceptions about the start-up world. Each negative answer was directly correlated to something they had heard, read or seen. And this only meant that a certain number of potentially great ideas would never see the surface of the sea.
The above example is rather true, in almost 60% of Post-graduate and Under-Graduate courses, where student are drowned by all the negative connotations associated with starting up. Let’s explore a few common startup myths that go around, and debunk them, piece-by-piece.
#1. As The Founder Of A Startup, You Need To Work 80 Hours A Week
Mariano Suarez, the Founder and CEO of Mural.ly, says in an article “That might be true when you are 20 and inexperienced, but the reality is that if you work those many hours, you’ll either lose your hair, have a heart attack or get a divorce.”
Like in economics, the concept of marginal value of hours comes into play even while you work. Chances are, when you work this much, every extra hour that you put in becomes less valuable than the previous one. The 80-hour myth floats around furiously in the business arena, and it has been proved that any founder, who measures in terms of inputs rather than outputs, might not be doing so well. Secondly, productivity is one concept that should be measured over weeks and months, and definitely not days.
#2. The Most Successful Startups Are Those That Have A Unique Idea For A Product That Doesn’t Exist
While having a great new idea for a service or product is extremely valued in the business world, creating a market for a new, innovative product takes a long time. Added to that, it is a rather difficult task carving out a new, niche market.
However, the misconception here is closely related to the fact that success is only attributed to novel ideas.
Most often, successful startups are those that identify the lack of certain services in a particular area, and build a unique business idea based on tweaking that area of disservice. Take for instance, Amazon. They weren’t the first to invent or conceptualize the idea of a bookstore. They simply offered an exhaustive pamphlet of over 3 lakh books, and changed the meaning of the word “out-of-stock”. Their concept of buying directly from an array of publishers made their bookstore one of the most successful startups, ever.
#3. Forget The Good-old Security Of Jobs
Almost 60% of entrepreneurs who’ve quit their jobs to start something of their own have been told that they were being crazy. Why? Because working for yourself is less secure than working for another.
This commonly held, yet false notion of security is what makes many aspiring entrepreneurs bury their ideas and sit behind a computer every day, dissatisfied and unhappy. A recent labor study in America revealed that the average length of time employees have with current employers was just around four years.
Jeffrey Henning, founder of a 10 million dollar corporation, said in an article with entrepreneur.com, “When I quit my job, people were telling me I was crazy, I told them they had the illusion of security”.
While decision-making and accountability lie solely upon the founder’s shoulders, he says that risk is not just something in the entrepreneurial world anymore. He says “We have 20,000 customers, and if I lose a customer, it isn’t 100 percent of my income”.
#4. The Best Part About Running A Startup, Is That You Are Accountable, Only To Yourself
While you are the boss of yourself, you’re also the boss to many. Right from your partners, your investors and your employees, the concept of responsibility literally, falls right on your shoulders.
It begins with asking people to join you on your journey; as some may have stable jobs. It continues when you try convincing investors to believe in you, and it doesn’t end there. You will always be accountable to customers.
You will be responsible for profits, income, paychecks and maybe even interests on payments. So, founders who are in this because they don’t answer to anyone are just kidding themselves.
What are some of the urban legends about startups that you might have heard of?