Running a business is a dream job for many and becomes a living nightmare for others. For the ones on the latter side, this may be partly due to what they thought running a business would be like compared to what it actually is.
We all see really cool stories of the Richard Branson’s of the world buying up islands because they happened to have the same name as their companies or the billionaire 30-somethings that jet set around the world while Anderson Cooper tags along. We then think, “Wow that could be my island” or “That could be me and my friends going to surf by private jet.”
The reality is, these realities don’t always work out for everyone. Running a business is not always what people think it is. Here are four common misconceptions that many aspiring entrepreneurs have about the road to happiness.
1. You’ll be your own boss
When I set out to create a different type of CAD/CAM software company, I often thought of how great it would be to not have to answer to anyone. The truth of the matter for me and for everyone else who is their own boss is that you’ll have more people than ever that you’ll have to answer to. The number one person who you’ll answer to is your customer. Your success will also rely on your employees, your vendors, and everyone else involved in bringing a product or service to market.
Sure, you’ll make the rules and be the cool boss who implements “casual Friday’s” or half-days on Wednesday, but you’ll only be fooling yourself if you don’t think you’ll have anyone telling what you should do and how to do it.
2. You’ll become a millionaire overnight
As an aspiring entrepreneur, you probably read magazine articles of the same namesake (Entrepreneur Magazine) as well as other inspiring stories about how a guy or gal just like you was faced with adversity, persevered, and became a millionaire overnight.
The misconception about successful companies is that they don’t take a really long time to get where they are because their stories are usually all about their cash crop and not about their struggles to get there. You may very well become a millionaire, but it’s unlikely it will be overnight and it’s extremely unlikely you’ll be cutting yourself a check for whatever you want each week.
3. You’ll have more free time
As the owner of your business you’ll be able to set your own work hours, delegate tasks and put processes in place that ensure you can play golf every afternoon and 36 holes on Friday, right?
This misconception may sting the most for those entrepreneurs who put in a lot of hard work thinking that they’ll be able to reap the rewards later. Even Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerburg, a hugely successful entrepreneur by anyone’s standards and someone who doesn’t need to work (financially speaking), still works “50 to 60 hours a week.” The funny thing is that this is considered to be a small amount compared to most CEOs.
4. Most companies fail in the first year
This is a bit more of a positive misconception as opposed to the others that one could perceive as negative. The reality is that many companies don’t fail the first year. In fact, the average lifespan of companies on the S&P 500 is around 18 years and the average lifespan of a small business is about eight years.
The average lifespan of restaurants, however, is closer to that year. A study conducted by Cornell University identifies competition, limited capital and the inability to predict and identify trends as the primary reasons restaurants fail. These issues could spell the demise of any company which is why it is so important to be aware of the above misconceptions before diving head first into any business venture.
Still want to be the boss?
After reading these misconceptions do you still have as much interest in being your own boss as you did before? If you already are your own boss and run a business did you experience any of these misconceptions first hand?
For me personally, running a business is great and I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world. Still, I think it’s important to know the common misconceptions about the freedoms, income, and challenges you’ll have before taking on the role of top dog.