Six myths on how entrepreneurial success should be measured. Part 1

When it comes to starting a business, high or sometimes unrealistic expectations of financial performance are often projected. We are frequently told that the first five years are the most critical and difficult for a business, but that number only represents a survival milestone and there is no guarantee that you will be profitable once you reach it.

Indeed, it can take many years to establish some financial stability; perhaps 10 years or even more. We rarely understand the omnipresent financial stress that entrepreneurs have to deal with since they don’t talk about it. Expressing this information once you have reached the breakeven point is much simpler than expressing it when you don’t yet know if you will achieve it. With hindsight, I want to dismantle some false ideas in order to provide more realistic benchmarks and a more accessible measure of success for aspiring or start-up entrepreneurs.

Myth no. 1: «It takes money to go into business»

There is a misconception that you need to have money to start a business. However, with a lot of creativity, courage and the ability to work hard to achieve long-term goals, you can do it. Of course, the level of risk-taking is not the same if you can rely on the financial support of your family (Love money) or your own financial assets when you start an entrepreneurial venture.

I would be curious to know how many entrepreneurs have managed to start up with very little money compared to those who had a more favorable financial context… This was my case and I know others who had to start with very little means, just like me. When you start a business with limited resources, you are very conscientious and diligent with your money since you have very little (if no) room for manoeuvre.

Fear of failure is omnipresent because we know that there will be no rich parents to help us recover from our failure… When going bankrupt means losing everything and actually starting from scratch (losing your apartment, your car, being left with absolutely nothing), you can say that the deterrent effect of failure is very strong: beyond a matter of pride, it’s a matter of survival.

Nevertheless, those who have little means start businesses more slowly, with smaller milestones, and they grow the businesses at their own pace, with the financing they will eventually have access to. About financing, I have written a more complete article on the topic here. So, the path may be different, but the result can be just as positive.

Myth no. 2: «When you’re in business, you have to seize every opportunity»

Having a business allows you to seize business opportunities, but are they all really relevant? Is it necessary to export everywhere, at all costs, for example? Even though revenue growth is an important pillar of a company’s survival, poorly managed or poorly planned growth can quickly lead to bankruptcy. It’s difficult to know, when you start a business, which opportunities will pay off the most in the long run — it’s all a matter of trial and error. But one thing is certain: we must learn quickly from our mistakes because bad moves can have a significant impact on the fragile health of a start-up company.

So, while it is difficult to give up certain opportunities when we want to increase the revenues of our company, the wisdom gained from past experiences will allow the entrepreneur to devote his resources to the most beneficial opportunities to ensure the sustainability of his business. A clear, well-defined and highly focused vision will prevent some failures…but some are still to be expected and that’s okay.

Myth no. 3: «The entrepreneur makes a lot of money»

It is believed that entrepreneurs make a ton of money. This is a false perception even though some entrepreneurs make, or seem to make, a very good living.

Indeed, some entrepreneurs have standards of living that far exceed their ability to pay for good appearances, to the detriment of the financial health of their business. The truth is that it takes time for most of them to reach a decent salary level, and even then, it’s a very subjective matter… The entrepreneur generally has the good of his business at heart and he will reinvest his profits to make it grow. This means that it’s not uncommon to see small business owners driving ordinary cars…

So, being an entrepreneur is more of a lifestyle choice than a socio-economic status. The fact remains that it is possible to make a very good living, but this is not necessarily the reality or the goal of the majority of people who choose this path. Do you want to know how much I pay myself?

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