Ask any small business owner and they’ll tell you it’s a huge leap of faith to transition from a secure, full-time job into becoming an entrepreneur. As an entrepreneur, you leave behind all of the comforts of a traditional job — steady paychecks, a familiar workload and a sense of established routine — for a position filled with endless risks.
The same small business owners will tell you that in the long run, the risk is worth the reward. But they are also quick to note that transitioning from employee to entrepreneur differed from their expectations. Here are four of the biggest myths about entrepreneurship, along with what the reality looks like.
Myth #1: Entrepreneurs must be on the go, go, go
According to this myth, after quitting your job, your life as an entrepreneur resembles a movie montage. You’re working hard and getting a lot accomplished successfully while a motivational pop song plays in the background. You live life on the go without a single obstacle in your way and have no need to take breaks.
If you’re constantly firing on all cylinders, make sure the steps you’re taking are the right ones. Spend less time organizing your inbox and more time developing your ideas, revisiting your business plan, working alongside freelancers or contractors, keeping a close eye on cash flow and your monthly budget, and continuing to build your business over time. Reserve time in your day to unplug, too. Know when to set aside some time each week to rest and reflect on all that you have accomplished in order to keep from burning out.
Myth #2: You get to pay yourself a lot of money
Now that you’re an entrepreneur, according to this myth, you can pay yourself significantly more than what you previously made in your last position. After all, you’re the boss.
It’s highly unlikely that any newbie entrepreneur will, or can, pay themselves a high salary out of the starting gate. It takes time to build a profitable business. And the law may cap your earnings: If you have chosen a corporation (S-corp or C-corp) as your legal entity, you are entitled to reasonable compensation. This means that because you created a separate entity that “earns” money, you can pull your wages from said earnings. Some of the factors that determine this kind of compensation include the amount of time spent running the company and what others in similar positions and areas are earning. However, if you’re still not sure what to pay yourself, consider meeting with an accountant to ask for their advice.
Myth #3: There are no more networking nights
Remember when your full-time job made you attend stuffy networking mixers? This myth says you can kiss all of that goodbye as an entrepreneur. Right?
No way! Networking as an entrepreneur is critically important. Doing so allows you to share your elevator pitch with others and talk to them about what your business does. Your new networking reality should include in-person appearances at trade shows, mixers and events, and networking done via social media on sites like Twitter during Twitter chats and via LinkedIn.
Myth #4: Entrepreneurs should be able to go it alone
This myth promises you can become a self-made success and don’t need anyone to help you get there.
Can I take a moment to point out how incredibly lonely that myth is? Doing it yourself can be empowering and proves just how much grit you’re made of. But if you have questions about the process or need help, it’s important to ask! Surround yourself with a tight tribe of individuals from family members to business mentors who are on your side and happy to lend a helping hand if you need it.
Becoming an entrepreneur is one of the most exciting and rewarding things you can do. If and when you do take the leap, make sure you’re fully aware of the realities.
Deborah Sweeney is the CEO of MyCorporation.com, which provides online legal filing services for entrepreneurs and businesses, startup bundles that include corporation and LLC formation, registered agent services, DBAs, and trademark and copyright filing services. You can find MyCorporation on Twitter at @MyCorporation and Deborah at @deborahsweeney.