Busting 5 Startup Myths

Karl R. LaPan, President & CEO, The NIIC

Entrepreneurship thrives on mythology. We consume stories of misperceptions of Rockstar entrepreneurs, influential visionaries, and unbelievable success stories. Success stories sell. It’s true for dreamers, authors, and athletes. And it is justified for any Founder’s compelling vision and passion. Here are five most commonly held entrepreneurial myths.

Myth 1:  Entrepreneurs only require a great idea.

Reality: It takes more than a good idea to succeed. A great idea is not enough on its own. It also requires a strong sense of self and self-awareness. Former Head Coach of Indianapolis Colts Tony Dungy famously observed: “No excuses. No explanation. You don’t win on emotion. You win on execution.”

You get one point for coming up with a great idea and 99 points for flawless execution. Execution separates good ideas from exceptional businesses. Many innovators are thinkers, not doers. Business builders often execute innovator’s best ideas so build a competent entrepreneurial team with the skills, business insights, and emotional intelligence to take the idea across the finish line.

Myth 2: It takes too much money to start a business.

Reality: People overestimate the amount of money needed to begin. Sometimes you can get started with little to no funding. While some micro-businesses only need $3,000 to start, other startup businesses average $65,000 or more, based on the industry.

Despite visions of unicorns (a startup valued at more than $1 billion) or gazelles (revenue of greater than $1 million growing annually by 20% for four or more years), it is often possible to bootstrap your idea/venture and get started without breaking the bank, or putting your assets or reputation at substantial risk.

Myth 3: Entrepreneurs are always risk-takers.

Reality: Often mislabeled as “risk-takers,” the most successful entrepreneurs make calculated, prudent and intentional decisions. This sense of purpose and deliberation is one quality that differentiates successful entrepreneurs from average risk-takers.

Dallas Mavericks Owner Mark Cuban acknowledges risk-taking as a crucial component of launching a thriving business. Yet, his relationship with risk is adversarial. “I hate risk. I’m terrified of it,” he said.

His key to success is mitigating risk with thorough preparation to avoid being one of the 50% of small businesses that fail within the first five years.

Myth 4: Now is not the right time to be an entrepreneur.

Reality: There is never an ideal time to start a business. Why? There are always reasons to postpone and delay starting a new venture. Many people have thought about starting a business. You’ve likely played with the idea.

Many people delay the decision to start building a business for months, even years. It just never feels like the right time. You have to create the right time. It is up to you to make it happen.

Why is now the right time to start? Because entrepreneurship is primarily born out of opportunity. We seize opportunity by being prepared and taking action. As McDonald’s tycoon Ray Kroc reminds us, “the more you sweat, the luckier you get.”

Myth 5: Entrepreneurs are young.

Reality: You don’t have to be young—or old—to start a business. There is no ideal age to start a new business venture. The average age of a Founder today is over 40 years of age.

All ages bring advantages and disadvantages to creating and building a business. Considerable research about entrepreneurs suggests age and domain expertise (in-depth industry knowledge or surrounding yourself with it) contribute to new startup success.

Starting is the First Step.

Entrepreneurial success stories inspire uncommon business builders. We can see ourselves in those stories, and we can envision success.  Once you know the path to success, it all begins when you commit to the first step—starting your venture. Go for it. You will be glad you did.


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