Long before I started my business in 2004, I had some pretty inflated ideas of what a business-owner is like. I thought entrepreneurs were young gods walking the earth. I had all sorts of crazy ideas about this breed that could walk on water. Here are some of the myths I had about people who start businesses.
Myths about being an entrepreneur (from the perspective of Michelle Loretta in 1999):
- Entrepreneurs are REALLY SMART; ivy-league-school-&-PHD-in-Business smart.
- Entrepreneurs are HIGHLY EDUCATED; years and years of school to study all the right business secrets.
- Entrepreneurs are VERY WEALTHY. Otherwise, how is it that they get the money to start their businesses?
- Entrepreneurs are VERY COURAGEOUS; they are so brave they can leave their jobs!
In 2000, after working in public accounting for a few years, I went to work at a small company that imported kids’ apparel from Europe as a sales territory manager. It was a really fun little company. And, it was a great experience to see what small businesses are really like. Not only was I working in a small business with only 6 employees. I was also meeting with boutique owners from San Diego to Seattle. And, I got to meet a lot of entrepreneurs! I met people who were just opening up their new stores. And, I met people who’d been in the business for 20+ years. It was a great exposure to who really owns the small-store retail market in the US!
After 4 years of building relationships with people in the children’s market, I had a better grasp of what small business owners are like. And, I thought to myself “hell if those people can do it, I can do it!” And, I took the leap. And, here we are 5 years later… still, love it!
So, what did I learn in those 4 years of meeting small business owners?
- Entrepreneurs are VERY CREATIVE, but often education and textbook smarts have nothing to do with it. You don’t need a degree to start a business. Small business-owners are incredibly adept at teaching themselves the tricks of the trade! (And, while I don’t think you need an artillery of degrees to start a business, I do firmly believe in educating yourself to have a smart business. Unfortunately, I did meet several people who wanted the glamour of owning a business, but not the actual skill.)
- Entrepreneurs are usually SELF-MADE. They don’t have millions of dollars backing them up (well, most of us don’t.) These days, there are many businesses that you can start with very little start-up costs.
- Entrepreneurs are COURAGEOUS… this one is somewhat true… but not as much as you’d think. I talk to business owners every day that have fears. The difference is that business owners learn to live with the fear. And, business ownership is all about seeing something that’s kinda scary, but exciting… and making the leap anyways.
I took a leap 5 years ago this past April. And, I’m still leaping… every day.