It is the American Dream, own your own business, run your own life, live large, and get rich. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised about the number of people who talk about chasing the American Dream. Is it everything people imagine, or is it all just entrepreneurship myths?
Occasionally when trying to dig deep and analyze a situation, opportunity, or even a roadblock, I’ll make a list. Below are ten of my favorite conversation topics connected with starting your own business or being an entrepreneur.
- Part-time job. This is number one for good reason. Since I’m over the half century mark many people talk with me about retirement. They have a brainstorm about a business they want to start or do as they retire. Most successful ventures are the equivalent of three or four part time jobs. Otherwise, it is probably a hobby. If you still need income, think twice about retirement.
- Friends will help me. When I ventured out of traditional white collar work more than eleven years ago I thought my existing relationships would be the ticket for life long freedom. Certainly, a few friends did step up (thank you), but I was absolutely shocked by the number of people I thought would help but then turned their back. In contrast, some that I thought never would, actually did and I found out who my friends really were.
- Coffee shops are cool. Yes, they are cool, however, if you think all of your brainstorming and work will occur will sipping coffee at five or ten dollars a pop in a trendy shop, think again. The only entrepreneur potentially benefitting from that is the shop owner. Great for her or him, but you’re probably going to need that extra twenty dollars every day.
- This is a write off. “Tax time is my best friend. I’ll just write it off at tax time.” If you are thinking this way there are two words you need to take more seriously, they are, cash, and flow. Everything you do still must be paid for, a write off is not free money. It is paying for something without paying tax on the money you have earned. Just so you know, credit cards are not free money either.
- I get to fly everywhere. The image is a cushy first class seat while wearing your Beats and sipping a cocktail. Remember, you are paying for everything, unless you have the good fortune of a sloppy venture capitalist backing you. Needing to be a thousand or so miles away to meet face-to-face sounds appealing, but if you are really hustling there will be no time for sightseeing or tours. You’ll also never forget the hurry up to wait, the true size of a coach class seat, and that a bunch of people packed together like river carp in a can, often smell about the same.
- My website will drive business. This is the modern equivalent to hanging a shingle. Build it and they will come. Driving web traffic costs money. Lots of money, of course there are always those organic hits, and yes they can come, but you’ll have to have a ton of valuable content to get them. Going viral with anything has odds similar to winning the lottery. Buying a ticket may actually be a safer bet.
- Lots of people want/need this product or service. Chances are pretty good if you have a good business idea, there may be some need or want. That is the good news. The brutal truth news is that someone is going to have to market, advertise, and sell. If you love the build that won’t be your job, selling and finding money is your real job.
- I get to do whatever I want. Certainly there may be some freedoms associated with entrepreneurship. You are free to figure out everyday what is most important and then pursue it with all of your passion. The real problem is that unless selling is your passion, think twice about doing whatever you want.
- After year three, it will all be repeat business. This of course has much to do with supply and demand, and also the type of product or service. For most businesses everything is changing so fast you need a degree in psychology to figure out who to market to and how to get them to buy. Repeat business is awesome. Life cycles are very short. Unless you’ve just invented the wheel and have an exclusive patent, keep planning for something new, do it now.
- I love doing what I do, I may as well get rich doing it. Consistent with several other myths, unless your passion is selling you probably won’t be doing what you love to do. You are going to have to sell. Build it and they will come may be the biggest myth of all. Yes, you’ll get to do some things you love, but only after you’ve sold something.
Entrepreneurship is Awesome
Entrepreneurship is pretty awesome, and that is not sarcasm. It truly is, but it isn’t cheap, easy, or free. Many people launch a product or service and achieve success, many more fail miserably. Yes, the American Dream is still possible and yes, it can be rewarding. You can work really hard and accomplish even more.
If you like living on the edge, selling, and hard work, it may be for you.
Do you know any entrepreneurship myths?
If you think it is a part-time job, an internet video, or an umbrella drink on the beach, don’t quit your day job.
Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and corporate trainer that specializes in helping businesses and individuals accelerate their leadership, their team, and their success. He is a five-time author and some of his work includes, #CustServ The Customer Service Culture, and Forgotten Respect, Navigating A Multigenerational Workforce. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.