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A small business blog featuring tips to help entrepreneurs succeed in the small business world. Topics include family business, human resources, marketing, money, networking, operations, ownership, startup, taxes and technology.
Startup Myths Keep Entrepreneurs Motivated
We’ve all heard the stories. Hewlett Packard and Apple were started in someone’s garage. YouTube and Goggle were the children of brilliant, spontaneous ideas, etc., etc., etc. We love to hear that these entrepreneurs simply had an idea, ran with it, and became multi-millionaires. Because that’s what we want to happen to the businesses we’re putting our blood, sweat and tears into.
But the truth of the matter is, they’re simply stories. Fairytales of success, if you will. The reality is, most entrepreneurs get their initial idea for a bright innovation from a previous job they may have had. In fact, a study of VC-backed companies showed that 91% of them were related to the founders’ previous employment.
If you examine most success stories further, you’ll find that the creators of YouTube both used to work for PayPal. The founders of Apple originally worked with Atari and Hewlett Packard. In fact the guy who worked for HP ran the microcomputer idea by them first. When they turned it down, he created it on his own.
So what’s the appeal for the elaborate brilliancy story? Dan and Chip Heath of FastCompany.com couldn’t have put it better in their article The Myth About Creation Myths:
…[C]ompanies aren’t born in garages. Companies are born in companies. This reality shouldn’t diminish these monumental achievements. Yet it feels like it does, because all of us crave the excitement of these creation myths. Your startup “emerged from a systematic discussion of market opportunities, conducted at a networking function at the Marriott”? Yawn. Give us the garage. In fact, the story would be even more satisfying if [the creators of Apple] had built the garage first. Out of toothpicks, scavenged from local restaurants.
So very, very true. As entrepreneurs, we long for the unlikely success story to motivate our own. We want the instant clientele, the instant demand for our product. We want the sky rocketing profits within a year. We want to have the ability to provide a swimming pool and 12 restaurants for our employees (see Learning from Google’s HR Techniques).
Thing is, the likelihood of all that actually occurring at lightning speed is practically non-existent. So we feed off the myths that surround other savvy entrepreneurs. And if that’s what keeps us motivated, the let the mythology take its course. After all, maybe someday our own business will result in a creation myth that motivates others. No one has to know about the lounge of the Marriott. Shhhhhhh.
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