Entrepreneurs often act like there’s a pot of gold at the end of the entrepreneurial rainbow.
Who actually finds gold at the end of rainbows anyways?
When I hear someone talk about the pot of gold at the end of a rainbow, I always picture a hamster running on one of those wheels in their cages. It’s chasing something that can’t be caught.
What is the Pot of Gold?
Americans are obsessed with entrepreneurship — and for good reason! It represents the American spirit and the American dream. These heroes create jobs and are the “backbone of our American economy.” Here at Employers Resource we believe in the importance of entrepreneurship so passionately that we built an entire business focused on protecting entrepreneurs from things like compliance and HR administration that can quickly extinguish their dreams.
The lies about what it’s really like to be a business owner are fueled by our country’s obsession. They paint a picture of a person who has reached a Utopian destination in the business world, feet up, sipping a cup of organic, small batch fresh-roasted coffee while observing their self-running business via their latest high tech handheld gadget, laughing at competitors, while trying to decide what to do with all their extra time and money.
The myths that create these unrealistic expectations is the entrepreneurial pot of gold concept.
You’ve heard the catchy phrases like “be your own boss”, “write your own paychecks”, “get out of the rat race”, “it’s not work when you love what you do” and “work when you want on what you want.” These aren’t totally inaccurate, but they can represent unrealistic ideas of what owning a business will be like.
I’ve Chased it too…
After trying my own hand at entrepreneurship for 4 years, I eventually learned that many of the beliefs about owning my own business simply weren’t true. I realized I was chasing something that couldn’t be caught — idealistic views of entrepreneurship that created unrealistic expectations. Now, I am with a company dedicated to serving entrepreneurs across the country who are learning these same lessons. It’s important that we acknowledge that some will have expectations representing an entrepreneurial pot of gold which can lead to disappointment and dissolution.
Myths Create the Pot of Gold
Here are some of the common myths about entrepreneurship. There are lots of them out there, so share some that you can think of in the comments. Let’s do our part in saving new business owners from falling victim to one of these.
“I Will Be My Own Boss”
This is true. You will be your own boss, but the myth here has to do with the assumption that somehow this means you won’t have other bosses. One thing aspiring entrepreneurs don’t realize is that you get new bosses like your customers, vendors, and other key stakeholders in your business who make all kinds of demands on you. You quickly realize that if you truly want to answer only to yourself, then you will also have empty pockets. Being your own boss also means being the only person to blame when things don’t go as planned. And it usually means you make unreasonable demands of yourself, working 15-hour days, expecting perfection. It’s easy to become your own slave driver.
“I Will Have Complete Control”
Your customers actually control everything. And you quickly realize that YOU actually don’t want to control everything when you discover the liability and risk involved with this as an employer.
“I Will Have Complete Freedom”
Having lots of control and having lots of freedom don’t come hand-in-hand like many people think. Even though you will not have complete control, you will have control of more than what you would probably like. This typically doesn’t look like complete freedom. Financial instability or debt to investors, hours and schedule controlled by customers and an endless to do list. Does this sound like complete freedom? Entrepreneurs have the freedom to make their own choices, but they don’t enjoy complete freedom. We all have masters over our time.
“I Can Build a Company that Will One Day ‘Run Itself'”
No matter how long a business owner spends perfecting their systems and processes, and hiring the right managers. A business cannot simply “run-itself”. Some business owners end up finding and hiring a person to act as CEO or take their place in the company. “Hire your replacement” is a more accurate description for this myth.
“I Need to Do It all Myself”
Speaking of hiring your replacement, many employers have the notion that if they want it done right, they must do it themselves. Stop and think about how this affects your freedom. Then, ask yourself whether you would hire you to do this task for your business. If you wouldn’t, you should probably hire someone else to do it. Giving up some control allows you to have more freedom to do the things at which you are best.
“Working Hard is the Key to Success”
There is not just one key to success for anything that is worth accomplishing. Owning your own business is no exception. You can work hard every day, all day, but if you are working on the wrong stuff you still won’t succeed. You have to work hard and work SMART to succeed.
“Passion is the Key to Success”
Similarly, passion is not the one key to success. Having passion will lessen the sting of the 15 hour days you put in as you build the business, but it won’t get you everything. Check out our tale of the forgetful “Entrepeneur” (yes, we meant to misspell that).
“I Will Reach Glory”
If you are a business owner reading this, you know that more often than not your work goes unacknowledged. Owning a business is a thankless job. Internal motivation is important. An increase in revenues will be the most reward you get. You know what happens when you run your own show? You aren’t on the stage to get the spotlight. If that’s what motivates you, you might want to consider a different career path.
“All I Need is A Great Idea”
This also goes with the belief that if your project or service is good enough you’ll be successful. Some entrepreneurs have a great idea that they think is so great it doesn’t require a business plan, a marketing plan, and will simply carry the business. [Insert some cliche like “the Devil’s in the Details” here] Cliche’s are cliche’s because they are usually true. Details do matter, especially when missing one of the”details” could easily sink your company in the first few years. Pay attention to the details even though they aren’t the most exciting and sexy part of running the business. If “starting a business” = “think of a great idea” we would all be entrepreneurs. A great idea without great implementation is just a great idea.
The Pot of Gold You’re Seeking
Miraculously, despite how many obstacles our government puts up, thousands of talented entrepreneurs do find a way to overcome what life and business have to throw at them. They start a business and it survives. Maybe you’re one of them? If so, pat yourself on the back, and consider yourself special. You really are. In many ways you have found that elusive pot of gold. Entrepreneurial success requires passion, hard work, motivation, preparedness, and support. Go in prepared and never go alone. Remember to go into business for yourself, but never by yourself.
If you find yourself beaten and battered we encourage you to do one thing: Make sure you’re not by yourself. Talk to someone, anyone. Owning a business can feel incredibly isolating and discouraging at times. Find the help and support you need and keep fighting the good fight! You are respected and considered a hero for a reason (it’s hard), but even heroes need a helping hand every once in a while. Our hand is always extended to you!
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