When you're getting started in entrepreneurship, it's easy to lie to yourself.
Maybe you've just left your soul-sucking cubicle job in search of the American dream and you know that your product will blow everything else away. Maybe the early warning signs that you need to pivot are just speed bumps, and you tell yourself to weather the course.
The trajectory for many entrepreneurs is filled (and in some cases fueled) by white lies. In many cases, those white lies add up to a downfall ... and a return to some soul-sucking cubicle job.
I quickly found out that the only way to be a successful entrepreneur is to be truthful to yourself, your customers and your peers. Not everyone realizes this, and the results can be disastrous.
In addition to my own life experiences, I've talked with other entrepreneurs about the lies they've told themselves. Here are 5 of the most common fibs, and how they can be a danger to success:
"This will definitely make me rich!"
The easiest part of entrepreneurship comes when you're sitting at your desk, picturing what it's going to be like when your product is flying off the shelves. You can envision your bank account, much like the one you have now, but with a few more digits at the end. You've convinced yourself that as soon as you hit it big, you'll splurge with a new Maserati or finally buy that mansion.
If this is the first certainty you have as an entrepreneur, you've already failed. If you're so sure about your idea that you can't find fault and believe it will lead to instant riches, that lie will kill your business before it even starts.
Real entrepreneurs aren't the ones with dollar signs in their dreams. They're the ones constantly looking for improvement, knowing that they don't have the time to daydream. Starting your business journey by telling yourself how wealthy it will make you is probably the most common mistake failed entrepreneurs make.
Avoid this and be honest with yourself about the amount of blood, sweat, tears and ingenuity that your business venture will require.
"I'll be involved in every facet."
Even for entrepreneurs who have realized the error in the first lie, this one usually comes back to bite them.
By the time you've put in all the hard work it takes to get a business off the ground and experienced some growth, you'll have to hire some people to keep it going. As tempting as it might be to hold on and maintain 100% control, your business will only plateau.
While it's good and beneficial for CEOs to still oversee and influence every aspect of their business, letting go of full control is a tough task. The successful entrepreneurs and CEOs know this, and place value in hiring the right people to help their dreams become more successful.
Instead of lying to yourself by believing that you'll still control everything, know that successful entrepreneurs know when to lead and when to delegate to their knowledgeable staff.
"I'll do it the way I've always done it."
This is a fallacy that has its roots in consistency, but can end up with your business becoming disrupted.
While it's good to have scruples and stay true to your vision, rejecting change because it's not what you're used to can kill your company. You can still keep the same routine you had when you first started, but know that as your business grows, you need to grow (and adapt) with it.
Even if it's the way you've done something for 15 years, that doesn't mean it's necessarily the best way. The new CMO you've hired could have a revolutionary idea to take your business to the next level, but if you're bullish on new plans, your business will only stagnate.
True entrepreneurs never lose focus of their vision, but embrace evolution. That's what you should aspire to.
"Reading isn't that important."
As I've written before, I owe a tremendous amount of my success to reading. I constantly want to learn more about my industry and how others have worked through pitfalls.
Bill Gates and Warren Buffett famously read books constantly, and I see them more as ideals than outliers. I fear stagnation as much as failure, so I never want to simply rest on what I know now.
There are so many great books out there now that can help you as an entrepreneur, and more being written every day.
Why wouldn't you want to take advantage of all that knowledge out there? Make the time, even if it's 30 minutes before bed each night, to read a book that will help you become a more efficient entrepreneur. By lying to yourself about the importance of reading, you're missing out on a world of growth.
"I'll just work harder."
There's a lot to learn from the adage, "Work smarter, not harder."
Simply putting your head down and working longer hours does not necessarily mean you'll be more successful. My favorite business leaders know the value of efficiency and have figured out an optimized schedule that works for them.
Brute strength and rote work will only take you so far. You'll need to step back every now and then to take a big-picture view of your company and its path. By believing that hard work is the only solution to every problem, you're lying to yourself and putting yourself at risk of a burnout.
While this doesn't mean hard work is bad, hard work by itself won't help you grow. That's why I recommend taking time to read, network and learn from entrepreneurs outside of your industry.