Entrepreneurial Success: Perception or Reality?

Freedom to do what I want to do. Control my own destiny. Spend more time with my family. Take more vacations. Play golf as often as I’d like. To be able to answer to no one. These are just some of the statements I hear all too often from individuals that want to be an entrepreneur. Or think they do!

When I ask them to define entrepreneurship, almost all respond with their thoughts of glory, reverence and the materialistic aspects of success. I ask them to tell me what they believe an entrepreneur looks like. It’s interesting to hear most describe a middle-aged male wearing dark, fashionable clothes. They describe this person as having a tan and wearing sunglasses. Seemingly, they wear sunglasses all the time. Many reference the look of Mark Cuban and Ralph Lauren.

They describe entrepreneurs as being very cool and relaxed. Open collar shirt or expensive t-shirt is the order of the day along with a dark sports coat or suit jacket. Yet, they’re emphatic that it’s not what had been previously labeled as traditional business wear. Definitely no ties. Several were adamant that a golf-type shirt was unacceptable, especially with a country club logo. Although, a polo shirt with a name brand logo would be acceptable some days.

Interestingly, the responses are very similar from those 30-55 years old. The under-30 crowd are more inclined to describing a young celebrity appearance as their entrepreneurial success look. More interesting are the similar responses from men AND women. When I push women a bit to share their thoughts about the look of a successful female entrepreneur, I have found they tend toward explaining how the female entrepreneur acts, as opposed to how they look. It seems like they’re describing the Meryl Streep character in the movie, A Devil Wears Prada.

Considering the popularity of TV reality shows like Shark Tank, The Profit and Undercover Boss along with series like Billions and Succession and how business moguls (entrepreneurs) are depicted in the movies, it’s easy to realize how entrepreneurs in general have been stereotyped into the minds of many considering entrepreneurship today. Even across the Real Housewives franchise where some of the wives and most of the husbands have achieved varying levels of entrepreneurial success, the influence about entrepreneurship is front and center.

Sadly, what isn’t realized or showcased is the work and effort it takes to achieve entrepreneurial success. And what about the risks and hardships of being an entrepreneur? Dare I mention failure as an entrepreneur and its potential ripple effects?

That has me thinking, is entrepreneurship ultimately being harmed by misperception of what entrepreneurship is really about – launching ideas, taking risks, solving social problems, innovating, creating jobs, etc.? As such, are tomorrow’s entrepreneurs being set up to fail due to these misperceptions? That’s a scary thought considering the popular opinion that it will be entrepreneurship that will save our great nation.

I know I’ve shared this video before, but I believe it’s worth sharing again… and again, and again.

Have a great day. Make it happen. Make it count!