Debunking 3 myths about entrepreneurship

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Steve Jobs founded Apple. Rihanna founded Fenty Beauty. Arianna Huffington founded the Huffington Post. Each of these successful individuals risked it all to start their new businesses. Yet, daunting misconceptions about what it takes to become a successful entrepreneur often prevent others from following in their footsteps. But there are many types of entrepreneurship and even more types of entrepreneurs, and one’s unique experience could be just what they need to find success. Here, we’re setting the record straight on three common myths about entrepreneurship.

1. Entrepreneurs are always young.

While the stereotypical image of an entrepreneur is someone young. However, age is not an accurate indicator of entrepreneurial success. For example, Colonel Sanders didn’t found KFC until he was 62 years old. It is true that most people starting new businesses are between 25 and 44 years old. But, it cannot be ignored that the average age of the founders of the fastest growing new businesses is 45. Young people may have advantages because of their digital skills and risk-it-all attitudes, but founders who have already launched a successful startup are actually more likely to succeed in their next venture than first time entrepreneurs. In this industry, it appears experience is more important than age.

2. Entrepreneurs don’t need a formal education.

Mark Zuckerberg’s success after he dropped out of Harvard showed college degrees are not necessary to make billions. However, it is important for entrepreneurs to consider the value of college for themselves. Just over half (51.4%) of entrepreneurs have at least a bachelor’s degree, so this question truly varies case by case. While college may teach theoretical knowledge and hard skills, it may prevent someone from seizing the moment with their brilliant new idea. College provides many networking opportunities that may be key to success down the line, but are these connections really with the time and money required for a degree? Often, the need for a degree depends on the industry. While highly technical industries may require a college education, some fields only require certifications, and others need no formal education at all.

3. Entrepreneurs can do it all by themselves.

The combination of Steve Jobs’ marketing expertise and Steve Wozniak’s inventions was essential for the creation of Apple. While one person is enough to come up with a dream, a whole team is needed to make it a reality. Two-thirds of small businesses outsource services to other businesses. A good entrepreneur works to build a team of employees, mentors, advisors as their company begins to grow. Collaboration is critical. Twenty-three percent of startups fail because of a weak founding team and two founders increase the odds of success.

Clearly there is no one path to becoming a successful entrepreneur. It is more complicated than following a simple checklist, but the very first step is always to develop an entrepreneurial mindset. This mindset will define how you use your creativity and determination to solve problems and get your business off the ground. If you are ready to take the next step in your entrepreneurial journey, reach out to our office for help guiding your discoveries to the marketplace. We offer many services to Emory faculty on the OTT website through our Faculty & Start-up Services. The team is here to help guide you through all parts of the commercialization process, from getting funding and developing protypes to attending conferences and filing taxes.

– Masin Kearney