Frederik Van Lierde

Should I Become an Entrepreneur? + 4 Myths Debunked

I am lucky to have asked by Shirah to talk to her students at EPFL about entrepreneurship. From the students, I always get the question if they should become an entrepreneur or make a career as an employee.

Not only from the students, but I also get this question from the network around meā€”people who are bored in their job, and thinking of changing their lives.
Should I Become an Entrepreneur? + 4 Myths Debunked

Entrepreneurship is something that has spiked in popularity over the years

I noticed that a lot of conventional wisdom about entrepreneurship is wrong. Let's debunk some myths.

#1 As an entrepreneur you are your own boss

If you believe this, you will be disappointed from day 1 :) Yes, this is the worst reason to become an entrepreneur. As an entrepreneur, you always have to give responsibility and answer to someone: your family (yes, they support you in your startup), your investors and board, and most importantly, your customers.

Don't forget that customers pay the bills, not your title as founder or entrepreneur.

I would say, if you become an entrepreneur, you switch from 1 boss to many bosses. If you don't like your boss, you can search for a new job, ask to move to another department. As an entrepreneur, you can't just get rid of your customers.

If you have a job, only a handful of people have control over what you earn and how many hours you work. As an entrepreneur, nothing is sure.

#2 Starting a Business is the best way to get rich

Are you looking for financial independence and think become an entrepreneur is the right path to follow? Think twice!

Investing in yourself, learning a valuable skill and use it inside your job, build a strong network in your industry to land a well-paid join would be much easier than becoming an entrepreneur.

Building a startup or company is extremely hard, stressful, chaotic and often fails.

I made a previous episode about "The Path to Overnight Success" and explain that overnight success often takes ten years. I showcase this by explaining the link between Maurizo Cattelan, the artist who duck-taped a banana on a wall, and sold it for $120.000 and Jeff Bezos, owner of Amazon?

Yes, you can get rich by becoming an entrepreneur, but it is certainly not the easiest way.

#3 As an entreprneur you can choose your own time and have more time with friends & family

As an employee, you have more or less fix hours. The 9 to 5 jobs. As an entrepreneur you'll have to learn sacrifice. When your friends are going out for a drink, you are woking. When you family and friends are talking about the latest Netflix series, well you can't discuss with then as you are working. When your kids are in bed, you continue working.

Even if you company kicks off, you still be working 70 to 80 hours a week, giving up sleep. Who talks about life/work a balance. Not the entrepreneur!

#4 I have a great idea, enthusiasm, it will be a success

I wish this was true. Ofcourse all starting entrepreneurs have a great idea, have the enthusiasm and strongly believe in their future success. Why would you start if youd dont' have those ingredients?

The fact is that many "great ideas" die fast for one reason: Lack of necessity. How innovative your idea is ,if the market has no hunger for your product or service, your company will not take off.

We all know the quote of Abraham Lincoln, and re-used by Peter Drucker and Steve Jobs,"The best way to create your future is to invent it"
In the case of Steve Jobs, the iPod was not new. Sony had already systems in place, Apple made it cool and more practical. The iPhone was not new, Nokia proposed it several years before and also Microsoft had smart phones before. Only Apple made it cool and more practical.

Listen to my episode "The Science of Crazy Ideas" where I tell the story about Nokia and Apple

The success was not related to a great Idea, but it was related to a better understanding of how the market reacted on existing products and offered a better one.

Why should you become an entrepreneur

Until now, I was debunking some myths on become an entrepreur, but why did so many take the jump. Why did I become an entrepreneur and don't want to go back being an employee?

First, I believe all the "negative" parts I described before, you can rite almost the same for being an employee. Many career minded people do work longer hours, do have more than 1 boss etc.

Second, it is a great feeling when you do all this work, all these hours you sacrificed, and you succeed, you can ay, this is my company.

Third, even you can invest in yourself as an employee, the magnificient feeling you have when looking back and witness how much you have groomed as a person is just worth it.

And yes, #2 is always in the mind, not only about the possible money you can gain, but also the dream, the goal, the chance to leave a lasting legacy.

If you like to take some risks, if you like some challenge, if you understand the pitfalls and maybe have a safety net. Than becoming an entrepreneur is certainly worth it.

What made you becoming an entrepreneur or why do you stay employee?