This Huge Myth About Entrepreneurship Is Bad for Business
Before Theranos founder and CEO Elizabeth Holmes became one of the most infamous corporate fraudsters of all time, she was an archetype of entrepreneurship. After getting a game-changing idea at the age of 19, she dropped out of Stanford and spent her 20s building a multibillion-dollar business. The size of her success was important, but so was the age at which she achieved it.
Youth seems to be a big part of the entrepreneurial narrative. When we aren’t hearing about startup millionaires in their early 20s, we’re being regaled with stories of famous entrepreneurs who began hustling in adolescence. If success is a by-product of working harder and longer than others, getting started before finishing your college degree seems to be the ultimate badge of legitimacy.
The problem is that our conception of fresh-faced entrepreneurs isn’t backed up by data. According to the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), only 16 percent of small businesses are owned by someone under 35. The average age for startup founders is around 40, and for those behind the most successful exit strategies, it’s 47.
In reality, Sara Blakely of Spanx fame is more representative of entrepreneurs than Holmes. Blakely built Spanx into an empire, largely thanks to the strength of her will rather than any entrepreneurial acumen. She didn’t even start until she was in her late 20s, long after the “prime” age for entrepreneurial adventures.
This myth that entrepreneurs all start out by selling lemonade and hustling from an early age is not just incorrect — it’s counterproductive. It sends the message that entrepreneurship is less legitimate or attainable for late bloomers. That could keep a lot of exciting, innovative ideas out of the marketplace, and worse, it might prevent experienced older professionals from staking out on their own because they assume they’ve missed their chance.
Challenging the “Myths” of American Entrepreneurship
The more entrepreneurs, the better. Right? Wrong.
At least, that’s the word according to Scott Shane, G’91, GrW’92, a renowned researcher on all things entrepreneurship. Shane, a professor at Case Western Reserve University’s Weatherhead School of Management, raised some eyebrows—and drew some criticism, too—with the publication of his recent book, The Illusions of Entrepreneurship: The Costly Myths That Entrepreneurs, Investors and Policy Makers Live By.
Built around Shane’s rigorous examination of American entrepreneurship, the book lays out some less-than-pleasant realities about the quality of our nation’s entrepreneurs and their impact on the overall economy—realities that some people, it seems, aren’t yet willing to accept.
“I think people are in denial,” says Shane, the author of 11 books on entrepreneurship and innovation management. “I think people are actually mad at me for writing this.”
Shane began work on the book, he says, after years of hearing the same old clichés about entrepreneurship—but not seeing any actual data to back them up. With this book, Shane intended to finally challenge those clichés.
Ultimately, he proved many of them to be false.
How Entrepreneurs Can Make a Difference (ChangeNow 2021)
Entrepreneurship is more accessible than ever before, but entrepreneurs haven’t always used this opportunity to make the world a better place. On Founder Institute’s 10-year anniversary, we declared a mission for the next decade: By 2030, 80% of FI companies will build businesses that directly address the UN SDGs (United Nations Sustainable Development Goals).
Jonathan Greechan, Co-founder of the Founder Institute, shares FI’s “For Progress” initiative noting, “Not every entrepreneur can (or wants to) ‘change the world,’ but every entrepreneur can do their part to make progress on the SDGs. This is what ‘For Progress Companies’ are all about.”
3 Reasons Homeschoolers Often Become Entrepreneurs
I learned the word “entrepreneurship” when I was 12. I had just started my first business, and my mother informed me I was now an “entrepreneur.”
I didn’t know what the word meant, but I liked the way it sounded.
Even better, I liked having a business. I was selling hand-knitted dolls, made from patterns I had designed myself. I sold them for $24 apiece, which, at 12 years old, was good money. It would only take me four sales to make nearly $100, and $100 significantly upped the balance I scrawled on the lid of my money box.
That number excited me when I first got started. Little did I know I would surpass it many times over in the years I was in business.
The money was nice. More importantly, I was learning real-world lessons about life, business, and being opportunistic—skills that served me well in my future entrepreneurial ventures, such as breaking into the startup world and becoming a professional development coach.
It wasn’t until I was an adult that I realized how much of an advantage being homeschooled gave me when it came to thinking entrepreneurially.
There are some very tangible reasons why.
The Best First Jobs for People Interested in Entrepreneurship
When we are young, time is like rich soil, in which we plant for the future. Aspiring entrepreneurs should be especially conscious of their first career choices, as it can be the experience they need to prepare for their own ventures. As the academic year closes out, seniors across the country are evaluating job offers and looking around for the best opportunities to start their careers.
Some students will look for a great tech name, some for the best exposure to their favorite industry and others for whatever job pays the most. But many ask what is the best job versus the best first job. Instead, first jobs should be stepping stones — a way to capture knowledge quickly and move on, versus a position that offers immediate gratification in the form of compensation, benefits or a title. This is especially important for future entrepreneurs.
If you are a young person planning to be an entrepreneur, here are some tips and considerations for evaluating your first job. I’m coming at this both as an entrepreneur myself and as someone involved in recruiting through my work. Think of these first job categories as paths meandering to a beautiful beach — they each lead to the same beach, but they will each offer different sights and experiences along the way.
“The business is a place where everything we know how to do is tested by what we don’t know how to do, and that the conflict between the two is what creates growth, what creates meaning.”Michael Gerber, The E-Myth Revisited
How business accelerators can help new startups succeed after COVID-19
The COVID-19 pandemic resulted in the loss of 225 million jobs around the world.
Younger people have been significantly affected, particularly in industries stalled due to restrictions caused by the pandemic. Many businesses did not survive and unemployment is expected to push more people into entrepreneurship.
These entrepreneurs will need support to survive and thrive after the pandemic. Innovation and entrepreneurship will be essential for economies to recover and build resiliency. Therefore, how these entrepreneurs and their new ventures are supported is important.
Business accelerators, a mechanism to support and grow new ventures, will need to evolve post-pandemic to support new entrepreneurs.
What Is A Startup?
Whether they want to change the world or simply make their business vision a reality, startup founders dream of giving society something it needs but hasn’t created yet—and doing it at scale.
For the less industrious, startups also have another appeal—eye-popping valuations that hopefully lead to an initial public offering (IPO) with an astronomical return on investment.
Startups are young companies founded to develop a unique product or service, bring it to market and make it irresistible and irreplaceable for customers.
Startups are rooted in innovation, addressing the deficiencies of existing products or creating entirely new categories of goods and services, thereby disrupting entrenched ways of thinking and doing business for entire industries. That’s why many startups are known within their respective industries as “disruptors.”
You may be most familiar with startups in Big Tech—think Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix, Google, collectively known as FAANG stocks—but even companies like WeWork, Peloton and Beyond Meat are considered startups.
The ‘Next Normal’ for startups: How the early stage investors’ money moves in the post-COVID-19 world
If people were told a year back that their life would be confined to four walls, they would have laughed it off. But today it’s a reality. Humanity across the globe is facing a crisis that our generation has not seen before. The decision that people and their elected governments would take will shape this world into a different place, not just in healthcare but also in our economies and businesses. Our shoulders are not just burdened with responsibilities of the near future but also with decisions that will shape our long-term future and we need to act consciously and sanely.
If we look at the wider perspective, this pandemic is not only a health crisis of the highest magnitude that will force us to make decisions, but it may also change the global economic and business order. And startups, that might be immediately firefighting and concerned about the near-term survival, will soon have to start thinking about their distant future – a future which may change their business models and in some cases their businesses and maybe a vision as well. And all this will have to happen while the battle against the ‘invisible enemy’ continues so that they roll out their new version of businesses as soon as we see the light at the end of this pandemic tunnel.
But while startups and their stakeholders find out what needs to be changed in their business models, the question that looms over everyone is what is going to be the ‘New Normal’. While people are still figuring out what changes may come in, it is increasingly becoming clear that this period is going to change certain things fundamentally forever — the way we live, the way we eat and most importantly the way we do business. It may still be too early to gauge or decide whether these changes will be permanent or temporary but some industries and sectors will see darkness for some time — long enough to move out of the attention of the private investors like the venture capitalists and private equities.
“What makes people work is an idea worth working for, along with a clear understanding of what needs to be done.”Michael Gerber, The E-Myth Revisited
Acceler8Success Group: Connecting the Right Brands, People & Opportunities!
The uncertainty of COVID-19 pandemic created the perfect time to diversify and expand. After all, it’s been said that necessity is the mother of invention. To that end, Acceler8Success Group was formed mid-2020, building upon Acceler8Success principles and methods that have proven successful since 2014.
Widely recognized as industry leaders & experts, Acceler8Success Group leadership have extensive experience as entrepreneurs in small business & restaurants, as senior-level executives within nationally recognized brands, and as franchisees within successful franchise systems.
Members of Acceler8Success Group along with Strategic Partners have earned designation as Certified Franchise Executives, Certified Franchise Brokers, Certified Business Brokers and Commercial Real Estate Brokers. Positioned to deliver services within the U.S., Canada and other Global markets, languages spoken include: English, Spanish, Portuguese, French, Italian, German and Russian.