We’ve all heard the entrepreneur stereotypes. We picture early stage entrepreneurs eating ramen and sleeping on couches, scraping by while trying to get their dream off the ground. Then, when they finally do, we think that their lives are all fame and glory and lavish lifestyles.
However, many of these perceptions are actually myths. If your goal is to start and run a successful company, it’s important that you know what you’re really getting into. So we asked some of SoFi’s Entrepreneurs to share some of the popular myths that they’ve discovered to be untrue:
Myth #1: Starting a business takes a lot of money.
Jennifer Beall, Founder of Tot Squad
Ever heard the saying "fail fast and cheap"? I think its a great philosophy for testing new business ideas. It’'s better to start with a small amount of money, whether from your savings, credit card, or friends and family, to test your idea. Completing a pilot or a "minimum viable product" (MVP) that you can try out with customers can be done inexpensively in most cases, and can allow you to get a bit more traction before you have to raise money. And if your pilot proves there isn't demand for your concept, its easier to call it quits before you pour a ton of cash into it.
My start-up Tot Squad is an eco-friendly cleaning service for baby strollers and car seats. I knew this business idea would not be hugely capital intensive and that was one of the reasons I chose to pursue it! I raised around $100k in convertible debt from friends and family after winning a small sum in the Kellogg Cup MBA Business Plan Competition. I also worked full time in Strategy Consulting for the first year and a half after we launched, so that I could continue reinvesting all operating profits back into the business instead of worrying about paying my bills. While this route led to many sleepless nights, I think it mitigated my risk and allowed me to take Tot Squad to the next level.
We are in the midst of raising $1 million towards our vision of becoming the Geek Squad for the baby industry, and bootstrapped our way for over 3 years while still landing major partnerships with companies like Nordstrom and Whole Foods. We're proof that if you are scrappy, you can do a lot with a little!
Myth #2: An entrepreneur’s work consists mostly of strategy and vision.
Omar Restom, Founder of Chefler
While strategy is certainly a part of it, the time spent doing that is dwarfed by the time spent doing the nitty gritty of the business, like QA and operation logistics. For example, one Sunday afternoon, I had to place stickers on 500 of our Chefler boxes because our TaskRabbit wasn't available. Things like that inevitably come up, and when you're as a small startup, you have to pick up some of the slack.
Myth #3: Experience or expertise do not matter when founding a startup.
Zac Townsend, Co-founder of Standard Treasury
I think sometimes there’s a perception that anyone can start a company in anything and succeed if they work hard enough, but that is not usually true. Most successful startups are ones that address a problem that the founders themselves had in a field they know just enough about to be dangerous. Particularly as the most interesting software companies are often ones that are "eating the world", we're seeing more and more startup founders who know something about the world they are trying to disrupt.
Myth #4: Much of a startup’s value is in its original idea.
Eben Pingree, Bantr
No matter how many times you’re told that execution is 95% of success for a startup, I don’t think it really sunk in for me until I was in the trenches trying to execute on our vision. While we’ve still got a ways to go, I can certainly appreciate now how insubstantial a great idea is when compared with great execution. Ultimately you need both for a successful company, but in terms of their relative importance, execution wins by a landslide.
Myth #5: Startups are an easy way to get rich.
Dan Kimerling, Co-Founder of Standard Treasury
Myth #6 You have to be incredibly young to found a startup.
Zachary Townsend, Co-Founder of Standard Treasury
Younger founders are often stories that get a lot of attention. But while Mark Zuckerberg was only 19 when he created Facebook, the other three technology companies launched since 2000 worth more than $10 billion (Twitter, LinkedIn, and Workday) were all founded by folks over 30. Jeff Bezos was almost 30 when he founded Amazon. Travis Kalanick was 33 when he founded Uber. For every Snapchat -- founded by two Stanford students -- there are two or three successful companies founded by someone older.
Are you an entrepreneur? Share the myths you’ve found to be untrue in the comments below!