The rate of entrepreneurship continues to rise. There are 400 million entrepreneurs worldwide, bringing with them 700,000 new jobs.
As a 22-year business owner who pulled back her first company from the brink of bankruptcy following the 9-11 terrorist attacks, and pivoted 7 times in response to market shifts, I've earned many battle scars along the way.
What doesn't kill you makes your stronger. Based on my own experiences, as well as the experiences of hundreds of business owners that I've worked with, here are the 4 most dangerous lies that can derail any entrepreneur:
1. "I'm Going to Have More Free Time Working for Myself."
When I work with new business owners, I share that flexibility is a great benefit because business owners can work any 80 hours a week they choose. You will never work harder for anyone else than you will working for yourself.
If you believe differently, you won't be in business very long. Entrepreneurship requires tremendous self-discipline.
Think about the 18-year old college freshman, with no one looking over their shoulder. Like entrepreneurs, they can come and go as they please. We all know what happens to the college students who can't handle total independence. It's no different with an unfocused entrepreneur.
You're either in creation or execution mode - all the time. You are always "on." If you're not, you're falling behind. This is especially true in the beginning when you have no one to hustle for you.
You must invest time in your business - much more than a 9-to-5 job working for someone else. According to Guy Kawasaki, "What I lack in talent, I compensate with my willingness to grind it out. That is the secret of my life."
2: "If I Build It, They Will Come - and Stay."
You may have a great idea. You may even get investors to believe in and fund your idea. However, if your idea doesn't meet a market need (which are constantly shifting), no one will buy it - no matter how great you think it is.
The most important success factor for company longevity is relevance. Markets can change overnight, from circumstances beyond our control, and you must be able to pivot your offering in response.
When Cisco CEO John Chambers declared e-learning "the killer application of the internet," I had to change the business model for my first company Information Experts overnight. One day, we were relevant as a classroom based training firm. The next day, we had to become an e-learning company. This became one of my most important lessons learned as I grew Information Experts and pivoted it 7 times in response to market shifts.
The stability of your company's future depends on the relevance of your services and products, and your ability to plan for and convey your relevance.
3: "I Need Money to Make Money."
This is a dangerous entrepreneurial mindset that can lead to the accumulation of risky, unnecessary debt. One of my favorite Tony Robbins quotes is "It is not a lack of resources that holds us back. It is a lack of resourcefulness."
Companies can run virtually, they can lease co-working space, or they can set up shop in an incubator. They can outsource operational functions to experts that can help them run more efficiently.
Functions that used to cost companies a lot of money including web design and marketing are now low-cost or no-cost. Interns are available now for virtually every business function, from programming to event-planning.
The days of cumbersome overhead costs are a thing of the past.
If you need some examples of businesses that launched with no money to jumpstart your own resourcefulness, here are 130 business ideas.
4: "I Can Do This on My Own."
Maybe....but why would you want to? There are so many entrepreneurial support groups today. Entrepreneurship is one of the most potentially isolating career paths a person can choose. Even when a business owner adds employees, they must maintain a professional distance. It is not the employees' job to emotionally support their boss.
Combine that with the fact that entrepreneurship is also one of the most emotionally and psychologically challenging paths, with one of the steepest learning curves, and you're setting yourself up for the perfect storm of loneliness and overwhelm that can quickly lead to burnout and depression.
Finding mentors, advisors, and peers that provide a source of support, education, and community should be a top entrepreneurial priority.
Building your own entrepreneurial dream is one of the most gratifying decisions you will ever make. You can learn how to profit from your passion, and create a life in which you love what you do every day. Self-discipline, consistent market relevance, respect for money, and a strong support system will help you to achieve your dream. Good luck!