Perform an online search for ‘advice for entrepreneurs’ and over 149 million results pop up. Sprinkled among those tips are hundreds of entrepreneurship myths that don’t hold true for today’s founders. Even worse, the advice is often vague and lacks in-depth insight.
“Do work that matters.”
“Don’t take ‘no’ for an answer.”
As an entrepreneur, how do you decipher which myths are hurting more than helping? I asked experienced founders to share their thoughts on what advice to ditch in order to successfully run a business.
6 Entrepreneurship Myths to Abandon, from Successful Founders
1. Find your niche.
Choose a category and find your niche seems like solid advice for new entrepreneurs. But this strategy won’t help you win market share according to Nicolas Cole, the founder of Digital Press.
“The biggest myth in business is that the best path forward is to enter a proven category and then try to ‘find your niche.’ This is flawed on multiple levels.
For one, data shows that category kings (companies that create or successfully redesign a category for themselves) are rewarded with two-thirds of the economics of the category. And as the category grows, so too will their leadership position. (Think: Tesla, Apple, Amazon, and Shopify).
When you walk into someone else’s existing category, you’re in the business of chasing market share. So you’ll never build a meaningful leadership position in the category—and won’t reap the rewards you’re after.
Second, you don’t ‘find your niche.’ This is the danger of using words like ‘product-market fit’ to describe how a company should ‘find demand.’ In reality, the most successful businesses create their niche (their own category) and as a result, create demand by educating customers on a new and radically different way forward.
Creating something unique and new, instead of competing over something proven and established, is the best business strategy.”
2. Strong teams meet in person.
Companies have made major pivots since the pandemic with fully remote teams, budget cuts, and at-home perks. Shireen Jaffer, the founder and CEO of Edvo, recently rebuilt her team and has advice for businesses looking to bring on new people.
“Many entrepreneurs believe that they need to create a tight-knit team, where they interview potential team members in-person and build a team where everyone comes together for in-person retreats and bonding events.
I’m proud to say that I haven’t met 80% of my current team in-person, yet we work incredibly well together. After 2020, I no longer think that interviewing and meeting every potential team member in-person is a requirement.
A tight-knit team isn’t only a result of in-person time. If you lean into virtual team building and recruiting, you have more options for finding strong and aligned team members.”
3. Profits come first.
A company won’t last long without money coming in. But the process you use to get that profit matters more than you think, says the founder of ShoppingGives, Ronny Sage.
“Based on our business, what I have seen in discussions with other entrepreneurs is that profits need to be established before purpose. This is not true, especially in 2021.
Every entrepreneur should start with why and what is the outcome their business brings to society. At ShoppingGives, we center this around four key pillars: the team, community, customer, and product.
A business with a built-in purpose is 80% more likely to outperform the market. And when consumers think a brand has a strong purpose, they are 4.5 times more likely to champion the company and recommend it to friends and family.”
4. Do whatever it takes to survive.
From distilleries making disinfectant to pharmacies offering delivery services, the pandemic forced many businesses to pivot. Flexibility is crucial as a founder, but some compromises aren’t worth the risk.
The founder of Photographers Without Borders, Danielle Khan Da Silva, shared her thoughts. “A myth is that because we’re in a pandemic, we can’t stay true to our values. This is an opportunity to strengthen our core values, especially as founders and organizations.”
Da Silva explained at the start of the pandemic, her team looked to their Code of Ethics in order to make strategic decisions. They paused their overseas assignments and pivoted to new online resources in order to better serve community members. By taking a proactive approach that focuses on strengthening core values, companies can craft strategies that unite teams and customers.
5. Find work/life balance.
Putting all of your energy into your venture seems essential for your company to survive. But recent studies about entrepreneur burnout and mental health issues put pressure on founders to find the perfect work-life balance. Samantha Radocchia, Co-founder of LOVE, shares why every entrepreneur needs to drop this myth.
“Before the events of the past year, I strongly believed in the separation of work and leisure, work and family, work and life. When we look at history, the dichotomy between work and leisure is simply a myth that has arisen from capitalist ideology—it’s the idea that there are times where we are productive and times when we are not.
This year, I’ve seen my accountant sitting in his basement in a sweatshirt, my co-workers’ children and significant others, new babies, puppies, locations, and everything in between.
This is life. This is also work. It’s real, it’s raw, and it’s beautiful (though perhaps not always as efficient). Work-life is a spectrum, not a dichotomy. The businesses that learn to work within this new paradigm will continue to thrive, as remote or flex work is here to stay.”
6. Stick to your plan.
Every entrepreneur knows the value of a strong business development plan. After spending months laying out your strategy for the product, brand, and go-to-market tactics, any change might feel risky for new business owners.
First-time founder and CEO of Lumiere Sciences Erin McConlogue, had to put aside this entrepreneurship myth when starting her venture.
“Business schools emphasize market research prior to launching a company. It’s a myth to think you can create exactly what you plan. Instead, see what people need and create that. I believe creativity and courage are more valuable in today’s business landscape.”
Every founder needs advice, support, and tenacity to make their company succeed. By doing away with these entrepreneurship myths, you can focus on the information that helps move your business forward.