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What are Some Common Incorrect Adages in the Business World?

“Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful.” Albert Schweitzer

So many to choose from that deceive people and can even cause the failure of a company. Here are just a sample:

1. Your “idea is worth millions”. There is no such thing. As by definition, anyone can steal an “idea” and do it better, with more capital and/or a better team. Anyone with just an idea will not raise any capital. You need a team, plan, traction. Even a patent (exclusive on the implementation of an idea, not an idea) only gets 5% royalty. The other 95% goes to the people who invest and execute. How many people had the idea of the electric car before Elon Musk started growing Tesla? There were hundreds of competitors to Facebook, and almost any other company you can name. But only the few that do everything right will survive the Darwinian world of the marketplace.

2. Anyone can start a company – We have a new company failure rate of over 85%, and a new product failure rate of over 90%, because people greatly underestimate the experience needed to be successful launching a new company or product. You should have 5+ years management experience and 10+ years total experience before starting a company, even with a strong cofounder. If you don’t have that practical experience, work for others longer or plan on a more experienced cofounder.

3. Raising capital is easy – Nope! Only a few percent of people that try to raise outside capital will get it. The headlines and big deals go to the few experience entrepreneurs that already made people money in another company or had strong traction (and hence minimal risk) because they have already proven most elements of their business model with product built, sales, marketing cost and process quantified, and repeatable processes of all these. And, of course, have some sustainable competitive advantage.

4. People like Gates, Branson, Musk and Bezos were quickly successful. Nope again! All took many years developing their experience and struggling with long work hours and lots of failure along the way before succeeding. Look at almost any success, and you will find the founders learned hard lessons for years in other ways, or in that company, before reaching any good cash-flow to scale. And they all hired more experience staff where they lacked skills.

Learn more about our Growth and Scaling (GSP) Certification program for Managers, click here

5. Leaders and entrepreneurs are born, not made – Wrong! With the right investment in learning, focus, and raw intellect, anyone can become an entrepreneur. However, for some, it may be more difficult. Personality, risk appetite, and other factors will make you more or less suited.

“The best entrepreneurs are not risk-takers. They are calculated risk-takers.” Marc Andreessen

6. Being an entrepreneur (your own boss) gives you freedom – The fact is, you need to plan on five or more years of long hours to establish most companies. Expect 60-hour weeks for three to five years.

7. I can do it alone – Same as #4. Look at the teams behind the face of the company. You cannot build a skyscraper alone, nor a large business. You need a strong team. No one ever built a valuable company alone without investing in a management team. Just like no one ever built a skyscraper alone. It is literally not possible – just a myth the naive press spreads to sell newspapers with an “instant success, hero story”. Sells newspapers and clickbait to hype everyone’s dreams.

I have created a one hour mini-course that will be sent out with a new, short video each day called The Entrepreneur’s Journey: Sign up here now.

Now, the CEO does not need to be an expert at everything, but at least thirty skills will be needed to build any significant company. And it could be many more. This expertise is needed on a team, and the CEO needs to understand how to manage each area, including knowing when someone else is good at a critical skill to hire the right people. That is easily said, but requires many years’ experience to do well.

Bob Norton is a long-time Serial Entrepreneur, CEO and investor who founded six companies with four exits that returned over $1 billion to investors for a 25X ROI. Two others are still in development. He has trained, consulted and advised thousands of Entrepreneurs, CEOs and boards since 2002. Mr. Norton works with companies to 2X to 10X growth rates and valuation using AirTight Management™, the world’s most comprehensive Leadership Operating System. He also helps companies raise capital to fund growth. He is also the Founder of The CEO Boot Camp™ and Entrepreneurship Universityfor early-stage companies that have not reached product-market fit and $1M ARR.

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