Rich and distant, successful start-up founders inspire nearly as many myths as rock stars and royalty. Which of these misperceptions about entrepreneurship is most annoying?
Remember the "What People Think I Do" meme that went around a while back? The meme highlighted the yawning gaps between our professional self-image, society’s ideas about our jobs (not to mention our mom’s) and reality. Entries covered everything from IT support to film director, and entrepreneurs were absolutely not immune. Let me refresh your memory:
There is just as much mythology around being a startup founder, it seems, as being a musician or artist. But what do entrepreneurs themselves think of this perception gap? What myths about start-ups are most annoying to founders?
"Many think that once a start-up is able to raise funds, it’s considered successful. It’s definitely not true. Raising money is just a means to an end. It simply gives the start-up a shot at building a company. Period," said Aihui Ong, the founder and CEO of Love With Food.
You need to work 80 hours per week
Forget that picture in your head of startupers asleep under their desks, says Mariano Suarez Batton, founder of Mural.ly: "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. Exercise, playtime, and socialization are all important to maximize your brain power and imagination."
Just build a great product
Outsiders (and aspiring entrepreneurs) are sometimes under the impression that if you just build something truly cool, everything else will then fall into place. But Gretchen DeKnikker, co-founder and CMO of SocialPandas, begs to disagree. "You have to build it all simultaneously. You can build the most elegant, powerful product ever, but if no one ever uses it or it can’t be monetized in a sustainable way, does it really matter? If you don’t focus on building a company people want to work for, who is going to execute your vision?" she writes, adding "I’ve seen companies with far inferior products with a better go-to-market strategy and strong company culture win again and again."
JESSICA STILLMAN is a freelance writer based in London with interests in unconventional career paths, generational differences, and the future of work. She has blogged for CBS MoneyWatch, GigaOM, and Brazen Careerist. @EntryLevelRebel