You don’t have to be a superhero to be an entrepreneur

There are a lot of myths surrounding entrepreneurship, some of them more outlandish than others. Entrepreneurship gets a lot of attention in the media, with people often seeing the life of an entrepreneur as glamorous, exciting and fun.

While it‘s true that it can be incredibly rewarding, it’s also very challenging. There are a lot of aspects about starting your own business and working for yourself that you might not be aware of unless you experience them for yourself.

If you’re interested in starting your own business and embarking on the path of the entrepreneur, you should know as much about it as possible.

This list of common entrepreneur myths outlines some of the preconceptions that people have about being an entrepreneur and lifts the lid on the real truth.

Common entrepreneurial myths challenged

1. Only certain types of people can become an entrepreneur

Being an entrepreneur is hard. You face a lot of challenges trying to get your business up and running, and you face most of them alone. However, you don’t need to be a superhero to be successful.

Entrepreneurship is for anyone, and a lot of people may surprise themselves with how capable they can be when it comes to building a successful business.

No one is born with the right abilities and skills to be a successful entrepreneur. Instead, these are developed over time through experience and learning. No matter your background, these are skills that you can learn too, either through study or by gaining experience.

Every successful entrepreneur has a set of skills that help them succeed, and these can include strategic thinking, problem-solving, focus and communication.

According to Ryan Allis, the owner and chairman of Hive Digital, lots of people can be entrepreneurial, and they’re usually people who show ambition, drive and care for others.

“Could anyone, in theory, possess qualities such as these which are typical of entrepreneurs? Absolutely,” Ryan says. “But is everyone this type of person? Definitely not.”

2. Burnout is inevitable

Burnout is a state of mental exhaustion that often happens when experiencing long-term stress without any time to relax. Lots of entrepreneurs suffer from burnout as they take on a lot of work and fail to dedicate enough time to rest and relaxation.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, 72% of entrepreneurs are directly or indirectly affected by mental health issues. Burnout often plays a part but it's not inevitable.

If you want to be a successful entrepreneur, it’s important to work out a proper balance between your business and taking time off to unwind and decompress.

Dedicating so much time to your business may seem like the best option for growth, but by overworking yourself, you can limit the effectiveness of the work you put in.

Managing your time effectively will help you to get more out of the hours you put into your business, allowing you to be more successful while avoiding burnout and excessive stress.

One of the best ways to reduce the possibility of burning out and ensuring you get enough rest is to hire managers and staff. If you hire the right people, they can take some of the load from your shoulders.

Holding onto talent, however, is a whole different ballgame. That's where incentives like employee share schemes come in. Learn more.

Hard work is inevitable when starting a business, but feeling constantly drained and trapped isn’t.

3. You need a lot of capital to get started

While some businesses may need a lot of capital to get them up and running, it’s also possible to be an entrepreneur without investing anything but your own time.

Different businesses have different financial needs, and you’ll need to consider how much you need before you start. Physical businesses will have higher overheads than digital ones, and you can often start small and scale up over time if you’re on a budget.

If you need more capital than you have, it’s also possible to get a business loan. Government-backed startup loans are available to all UK-based businesses and can offer between £500 and £25,000, and most major banks also offer business loans.

HSBC offers a £15 billion fund for UK small and medium enterprises and approves 85% of loan applications it receives. But there are other ways to raise capital without worrying about repayments.

The Seed Enterprise Investment Schemes (SEIS) is a government-backed initiative providing tax reliefs for investors who invest in early-stage companies. As such, investors actively look for SEIS-eligible companies.

The first step to getting SEIS funding is to apply for advance assurance. SEIS/EIS advance assurance is free for customers on our Guided plan, or £350 + VAT for customers on all our other plans.

Learn more about the benefits of SEIS and how to get started.

4. The business idea is the key to success

Many people think that they need a million-pound idea to become a successful entrepreneur. While unique business ideas can be valuable, they’re far less important than the work you put into your business.

Any idea you have is only as good as your ability to follow through and turn it from an idea into a successful company. You need to also have capital, knowledge of the market and an understanding of your target market.

Many businesses succeed despite not selling a unique product or service. In fact, some of the biggest companies in the world were established on the back of an idea that already existed.

Having a unique idea will help you launch in an uncompetitive market, but if it’s a good idea, you’ll quickly face competition anyway. You need to make sure that your business model is sound and that you have a path to success. That’s always more important than a single idea.

5. The best entrepreneurs do it alone

Entrepreneurship can be a lonely path, with a lot of entrepreneurs choosing to set up and run their businesses alone. However, the best entrepreneurs know their limitations and understand that working with others is often the key to success.

No single person possesses all of the skills, experience and knowledge to run a successful company on their own. 

As a company grows, it will need more people to take it to the next level. As Reid Hoffman, the founder of LinkedIn puts it:

“No matter how brilliant your mind or strategy, if you're playing a solo game, you'll always lose out to a team.”

To be a successful entrepreneur, you should ensure that your company is built using the right talent. Hiring the right people and giving them the right roles within a company can be just as important as anything else you can do as an entrepreneur.

You also shouldn’t overlook the potential of co-founders who can work with you to take your startup idea to the next level.

6. You need charisma to be successful

Many of the entrepreneurs that the media focus on tend to be charismatic or enjoy the limelight. While it’s true that charisma can help in some areas of entrepreneurship, it’s not essential to be successful.

Communication is very important, but so too are analytical skills, critical thinking and ambition - not to mention empathy! Charisma is far more difficult to learn and develop compared to some of the more useful entrepreneurial skills.

It’s also possible to be a great leader without being a conventionally charismatic and charming person. However, you can train yourself to be more charismatic by being more aware of how you interact with others.

7. It’s important to take risks often

Becoming an entrepreneur is often seen as a big risk, especially if it means quitting your job and putting up your own capital to grow your business.

As an entrepreneur, you’ll often need to take risks, but risk management is crucial if you want to be successful. Many entrepreneurs have different outlooks when it comes to risk.

Tim Ferris says, “eliminate risk altogether if you can.” Whereas Elon Musk says that “if the outcome is exciting enough, taking a big risk is worthwhile”.

Either way, any risks you do take should be calculated, and you should try to always make decisions based on the available data that you have.

Ultimately, your experience may be very different from others, depending on your business and circumstances. However, you’ll find that there are a lot of myths about entrepreneurship that are easily dismissed.

The more experience you gain as an entrepreneur, the more you’ll learn, but your learning should never end if you want to be successful. But don't just take our word for it, here's advice from thriving founders for first-time founders.

Ready to take the next step? As well as resources like this, we have tools specifically to help early-stage startup founders. Learn more about Launch.