I never cease to be fascinated by the myths that people insist on believing, despite all evidence to the contrary.

Entrepreneurship comes with its own baggage. Part of that is a mythology that stems from legends, anecdotes, movies and lots of episodes of "Shark Tank" over one cocktail too many. This mythology has given more than one entrepreneur the mistaken impression that you can get there on combativeness and slogans, and nothing could be further from the truth.

Starting a business is tough. Your approach can make things tougher. There are common myths about entrepreneurship that may be holding your new business back, where ignoring the mythology and putting the right thought process in place can position you for success.

Without further ado, here are the myths you should ignore.

Entrepreneurs embrace risk.

Entrepreneurship is, without question, a riskier proposition than a nine-to-five desk job. But it's not a series of high-stakes gambles and Hail Marys. For every entrepreneur like Fred Smith, who gambled successfully with FedEx's dwindling savings at the blackjack table, there are thousands more who lost everything. You don't hear about those people too much.

I always advise my clients to take smart, calculated risks in investing, and I recommend the same approach to entrepreneurship. The returns could be great, but you simply won't last long by using a Las Vegas mentality. Calculate the payoff, then think long and hard about whether or not the risk is worth it.

Entrepreneurship is a young person's game.

According to The Kauffman Foundation, most entrepreneurs are 40 years of age on average, and more than 60 percent of them are married and have a child. That's why a baby-faced billionaire like Mark Zuckerberg gets all the headlines--he's an outlier, and outliers make good stories.

The Kauffman studies state that older entrepreneurs, with their wisdom and stamina, have a higher degree of success than their younger cohorts. Your years of experience give you an edge, and you should use that to your advantage.

Entrepreneurs have a unicorn.

A revolutionary, game-changing, mind-blowing product that consumers want to buy is called a "unicorn" for a reason--it's a fantasy, and you're unlikely to find one just sitting there, no matter how doggedly you search for one.

The majority of successful entrepreneurs focus on existing technologies and products. Then they put in the hours and create the best product they can create. And remember, a game-changer doesn't always guarantee success. Just look at how Kodak is doing these days.

Entrepreneurs never quit.

"Winners never quit, and quitters never win." This is a popular axiom among football coaches and others whose job consists of making other people go out there and take risks. It's much less popular with people whose life savings are on the line.

You certainly do need perseverance and a consistent G.S.D. (get stuff done) attitude if you want to be an entrepreneur, but there might be a time to throw in the towel, and it's well before you're up to your eyeballs in debt. Every aspiring entrepreneur should know what their runway is--a realistic time to quit or change course, before severe damage becomes a real possibility.

I'm the boss.

Your employees see you as a boss and yes, it's your signature on their checks. But that's pretty much where it ends. You're also on call and accountable to a wide range of people, including employees, customers, venture capitalists, angel investors, partners, and the Internal Revenue Service.

That's why I bootstrapped my business. Consider who you'll actually answer to in your company, because it will never just be you. You should always answer to your clients, but do you also want to answer to other investors? That's a consideration you'll want to give some thought to.

Follow this advice, and you stand a much better chance of a long ride with a successful business. Good luck!

Published on: Sep 25, 2015
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