Psychology has a phenomenon called the “Galatea Effect,” which states that people’s self-perceptions about themselves can influence their performance. This means that we make self-fulfilling prophecies.
Everybody starts a business for different reasons. Perhaps we want to be independent. We might have an idea that could make us rich. Maybe we are looking for a better work/life balance.
Galatea effects only go so far. However, data shows that many entrepreneurs start their businesses with unrealistic expectations regarding the benefits and rewards. They think they’ll be happier, healthier, and make more money.
Realizing the truth can be hard to swallow. If we don’t see success as quickly as we anticipated, we are more likely to give in. I recommend instead setting reasonable expectations. This includes dispelling certain myths.
Myth #1 – You must follow your passion
I wasn’t raised to dream about form building. When I worked in New York, customizing web forms was a part of my job. It was tedious work.
JotForm boasts more than nine million users. While I may not have had a strong passion for online forms, I believe strongly in creating quality products that make people’s lives easier.
Instead of following a passion, I recommend Paul Graham’s advice.
Finding the perfect combination of these three attributes is difficult. However, once you find that intersection, the results will be more reliable than if it was just your passion.
Myth #2 Success is achieved overnight
Most of the “overnight wins” stories that you hear are the result of years and year’s worth of hard work. Bill Gates, who is often thought to be the most famous overnight success story, became a multimillionaire just as Microsoft went public.
Gates, however, had been growing his business for 11 years before that moment.
We live in an age where instant gratification is a norm. It can be pretty distressing to see things not happen right away. In many cases, “overnight wins” are just fads and fade as fast as they appear.
Jim Collins has written Great by Choice. He examines how companies thrive in volatile market conditions. He finds that companies that prospered long-term under these conditions were those that moved consistently. He asks readers if they can imagine themselves walking 3,000 miles from San Diego, California, to Maine. For the first three days, you will walk 20 miles each. Although it’s hot, you prefer to walk 20 miles each day for the first three days.
“You keep on going, walking 20 miles, 20 minutes, 20 more miles. After that, you cross into plains. You can run 40 or 50 miles in one day,” he wrote. You don’t. “But you don’t. You keep your pace and march 20 more miles.” Finally, you reach Maine.
Imagine someone leaving San Diego the next day. He’s excited to start the 40-mile journey and is fresh. He is hot and exhausted the next day. He decides not to go, but he does continue, moving in irregular bursts, covering 40- 50 miles per day, before eventually crashing. He ultimately finds you waiting, battered and weak. The journey wasn’t easy. After all, you both walked more than 3,000 miles. You were able to persevere, despite the hardships, and you were able to overcome your compatriot’s near-death experiences. Consistent improvement wins the day.
Myth #3: Independence is the key to happiness
One of the reasons entrepreneurs become entrepreneurs is because they have the freedom to work for themselves. Research shows that independence isn’t all it seems.
Leon Schjoedt (management professor) conducted a study in 2009 among large numbers of founders and non-founders. He found that entrepreneurs had a greater sense of autonomy than non-entrepreneurs. However, they also value feedback and variety. This is something he didn’t realize they needed.
It was clear that entrepreneurs cannot be satisfied with their autonomy independently, no matter what they might think. While autonomy is an advantage, it doesn’t make you happy. Schjoedt provides some ideas for entrepreneurs to achieve the two traits they most care about, variety and feedback.
He recommends looking for new opportunities that are related to the business to add variety. This can help diversify the industry without compromising the original mission. Schjoedt suggests that founders keep an open dialogue about their progress. It is essential not to ask big-picture queries such as Is this business doing well? Instead, focus on the details and give concrete answers.
Myth #4 – Success is not guaranteed if you work hard
I don’t have to tell you, but a large percentage of startups fail within the first year. It can be demoralizing to invest all you have in a business and then watch it fall apart before your eyes.
Successful entrepreneurs realize that failure is inevitable. No matter how well-planned your plans are, it doesn’t matter how hard you work. Things will not go according to plan. Adapting to changing circumstances and having a winning strategy is as essential as having a winning one.
Despite being painful, failure can be a necessary part of learning. It can help you grow, teach you from your mistakes and give you a thicker skin. Many people let their failures get them down. The people who can bounce back are much more likely to achieve the goals they have set.
Entrepreneurship can be extremely rewarding and thrilling if you know what to expect. You will not be famous overnight. It’s unlikely. However, it is possible with luck, perseverance, and a lot of hard work.