Three years of doing KICKSTART, where we gather about 250 entrepreneurs once a month to network and learn from mentors, and personally running a few businesses (failed four at least) for 12 years, you wanna know the truth? I get kinda icky feeling when I’m called an entrepreneur.
Sidenote: Frankly in my opinion, only your mom gets to call you an entrepreneur, because in that CNY or Hari Raya or Deepavali or just any other weekend gathering when your uncles and aunties ask about you, her reply is “Oh, my son/daughter is an entrepreneur”, which essentially just mean you’re jobless.
Sure, there are true entrepreneurs out there, along with a hundred over definitions. But the truth is, when a person is a consultant, he’s not an entrepreneur. He’s a consultant. A coach is a coach, a trainer is a trainer, a graphic designer is a graphic designer. What you do defines you, and unless you do “entrepreneurship”, I think it’s best to let mom define that term for you lar. (reference to side note above)
So with all the hype about people quitting their jobs to pursue their passion, or dropping out of university to do a startup (seriously, is startup something people do now?), or travelling the world and become a digital nomad, I thought it’s nice to bust some myth about this trendy hippie thing called entrepreneurship. Yes, smart ass, of the 3 examples I mentioned above, I was guilty of #1 and #2, and currently experimenting with #3. #biteme
Myth #1 – You have more time freedom.
Sure, 9 to 5 can be long, and if you live in Cheras, Puchong, Subang and work more than a 25-minutes drive away (at 1am in the morning, of course. Normal travel time can stretch up to 2 hours depending on this simple equation, Travel Time = Number of idiots on the road X Weather Condition X 3.142(Actual Travel Distance) X Whether It’s a School Holiday Or Not), it’s a blood sucker.
So you think running your own business will mean more time to spare? Depends. If you work in the cafe under your condo (or better yet that bed in your bedroom), yup, you do save time, but chances are your biz dev activities will still take you to the city. You can work outside of 9 to 5, but if your customers and business partners work 9 to 5, guess what, so do you.
Well, I guess if you choose customers in a different time zone, then yeah, I guess you will have more time freedom.
Myth #2 – You’ll have more time.
It really depends on what systems you have in place. I’m sure you know business owners who ended up working longer than your standard 9 to 5, and even on weekends. John Maxwell once told me that “Activity doesn’t equal accomplishments”, and as an entrepreneur, with all the illusion of time freedom, you may seem busy doing a million things with zero results.
Tip #1: allocate like 3 hours a day of solid work time and work downwards from there until you only need to use minimal to get maximum results. That’s the 80-20 rule. Frankly, once you have this sorted out, then yes, you will have more time.
Tip #2: You better find something to do with that “more time” you just got, because if not, you’ll end up doing things that don’t achieve any results, or worst, sabotage your 3 hours of solid work you just put in (classic case of itchy-backside)
Myth #3 – You will be following your passion.
Muahahahaha, this one deserves maniacal laugh that rivals any drunken spartan after a glorious battle of 300 vs 100000! Passion is over rated, and trust me, a lot of people who think they quit their job to follow their passion, don’t even know what passion really is. Sometimes it sounds more like an excuse to combat quarter or mid life crisis.
Ok, you really really wanna know when passion really counts? During the tough times. When shit hits the fan, impeding tsunami in the distance and Godzilla just farted after walloping that garlic pill factory, passion will be the fuel you need to lift your ass off the floor and keep on going. When it’s all sunshine and rainbows, that ain’t passion. That’s just the high from the marijuana.
Tip #3: If you die die wanna know what your passion is, I can give you a hint told to me by a mentor during my early days, is simple: something you’ll love doing so much that you’ll do for free. The trick, is to get paid doing it. And remember, it’s just a hint. Finding your passion takes more than just answering one question.
Myth #4 – You will make more money.
I remembered Tham Tian Hock once saying this at a BFM Breakaway Conference (yes, the same one us KICKSTART boys decided to guerrilla-marketing the event to get more people to our event): if your new business can’t make you more than what you’re already making at your job, then why bother? Sure, money is just one part of life, but if it’s just one part, why go through so much trouble (i.e. start a business, risk going broke, delaying your gratification) just to make more of it?
The question you’ll have to ask is “at what expense?”. If you’re using more time and resources just to make a little bit more than you’re currently making, then is it even smart? Worse, what if you gotta risk your relationships?
Myth #5 – It’s more glamorous.
If it is, banks will throw credits cards and loans at you. Truth is, an employee with a stable income can qualify for that card or loan much much easier than an entrepreneur, but that’s just from the bank’s point-of-view.
Frankly, any job that one holds with pride, to me, is glamourous. Whether it’s going through lines after lines of code, working late till the night to perfect that design, or smiling with the customer even when you just had a shitty day, as long as you hold what you do with pride and can afford a good night’s sleep, I think it’s admirable.
Myth #6 – It takes courage, hence you should be proud of yourself.
Seriously? Go volunteer at a war-torn country or disease-infected zone or coral-planting in the midst of a jellyfish migration. That’s more ballsy.
Myth #7 – You’re joining an elite club.
If it is true, I haven’t got my membership card for the past 12 years. 🙁
Oh yeah, if you decide to form a club of “entrepreneurs” under the guise of “networking” but actually just showing off and feeling good, it’s just the same as masturbation, but the difference I guess is that it’s more syiok when others are stroking your junk.
Myth #8 – You have be really smart.
Sure, Elon Musk, Sir Richard Branson, Anthony Tan, Vishen Lakhiani, they are all smart. But frankly, if you look into their success story, it’s usually their persistence to succeed, adaptability to market changes, working with the right partners and having the right team that gives them the greatest breakthroughs in their career. Sure, you can call that smart too, but it’s not exactly academic-kind of smart. Street smart is the word, and as the name suggest, it’s learned off the street, which is outside your room and probably not in that book you’re reading. Nothing beats experience, and that requires you to get out of the building.
Myth #9 – You must start early.
Obviously Colonel Sanders and Ray Kroc didn’t get that memo. Actually, if you look at the average of startup founders in the valley, it’s 35, not the 21s that we see in the Exciting, Surprising, Enticing, A City of Contrast & Diversity Kuala Lumpur.
Sure, starting early gives you the benefit of time and youth, but being older and seasoned also means you have better network, corporate know-how and soft skills (I can only assume). Truth is, regardless of when you start the journey, as long as you make use of your existing resources and keep an open mind, you’ll do fine.
Oh yeah, don’t fall into the “Oh, you’re still young” to “Oh you got so much potential” trap. Because before you know it, you’re no longer young, and frankly, everyone has potential. Even a corpse has potential to be fertiliser, kan?
Myth #10 – You don’t have to report to a boss.
Well, try reporting to multiple bosses, but this time in the form of clients, prospects, customers, stakeholders. Sure, putting up with them is important coz they pay your bills, but sometimes we forget, as much as an asshole our boss is, we can change bosses.
Of course you can use that abundance mentality and say the ocean is far and wide and you can afford to dump one blood-sucking client in search of a better one. Speaking from experience, easier said than done, especially when the bills are piling up and the prospects are not signing the purchase orders yet.
I’m sure there’s more myths to cover, but it’s a weekend and I’m in a midst of a Mission Impossible Marathon (seriously, there are two easy ways to know how old a movie is: 1. The handphone they are using, and, 2. Tom Cruise).
But let me end with this: Screw the myths. Just do it lar. Because if you have that blood in you, even with all these myth busting and negativity and fuckups around you, you’re still gonna do that entrepreneurship thing.