The 3 Biggest Lies Entrepreneurs are told
After 25 years as an entrepreneur I have heard (and seen) it all. Lies, promises, optimism, hopes and dreams all sold to entrepreneurs and we want to believe.
Unfortunately not only is it frustrating to be lied to, the results can be very damaging and in some cases devastating… leading to slowed progress, failure and regret.
Some of the lies are told by well-meaning yet inexperienced “gurus” or influencers, sometimes these gurus are just jumping on what is HOT (versus what is real) and in some cases you are just being flat out scammed by people trying to sell you their product or service..
So, although there are many, I want to share the three biggest and most dangerous lies being told to entrepreneurs today. They are:
- The secret to startup success is hustle.
- The best product wins
- If you want to be a successful entrepreneur, you have to accept big tradeoffs.
*Funny enough, it literally makes me angry just to write them 🙂 so let’s dispel these right now.
The secret to startup success is hustle.
Today, more than any time in history we are inundated with the idea of hustle. There is even a category term for this = HUSTLE PORN… and although there are many, many influential people espousing this formula, I often think of Gary Vaynerchuk as the King of Hustle Porn. Now, before we go any further, let me be abundantly clear that I find Gary super impressive. He has made a ton of money. He has created value for millions of people and built numerous companies on the back of his messaging – all of which is impressive and admirable. So “Gary” is impressive and his message is important (ie. you DO have to work hard to create success), HOWEVER I have two huge, fundamental issues with the hustle message.
Not all those who hustle will succeed. Before anything else I just have to say I hate to see people who are driven, talented and optimistic buy into this idea of “If I put in the time and effort, I’ll get the result.” Wrong! Your idea might not be great and all the hustle in the world won’t convince people to buy it. Your team might be weak and even if you hustle till you bleed, they may fail to deliver on the promise. Your message may be wrong and so hustle as you may, it will fall flat and have you spending time and money for a result you’ll never reach. These are just a few of the MANY examples of things that have to be structured properly to drive success, and all the hustle in the world may not change them. In these cases HUSTLE = FRUSTRATION and FAILURE.
I believe (and my own experience has been) that one of the real secrets to scaling a business is actually LEVERAGE and I have seen again and again those entrepreneurs who are hustling the hardest are the very ones who fail to find, or even look for, the leverage in their business. If you believe HUSTLE = SUCCESS, why would you put tons of energy into LEVERAGE whose definition is almost the opposite of HUSTLE?
(Definition): What do I mean by leverage?
I often think of the great Archimedes quote: “give me a place to stand and I will move the earth”… Coined Archimedes Lever, this is finding THE THING or things that give us maximum return for our lowest reasonable effort. So leverage is finding THE THING or things that give us that maximum return for our lowest reasonable effort.
The smartest entrepreneurs I know and almost all of my successes have come from finding leverage… so if you are focused on HUSTLE, you may miss the single most powerful tool in your arsenal – finding your explosive leverage.
The best product wins, so focus on creating the best product
This is a tricky one, because I want to make sure you understand that creating a great, high quality, high differentiated product is important, but sadly there are thousands of entrepreneurs (including some very high profile ones) who created technically superior products and went on to experience total failure as entrepreneurs or as a business.
There are a few reasons for this but far and away the biggest is that the definition needs to be adjusted in a way that makes all the difference:
The best product that is highly distributed and in the right way, wins.
The key to this is that you take the best product but add two massive critical success factors:
DISTRIBUTION. This word is right up there with leverage as one of the most important words in creating a successful, scalable business. Think of distribution as the method you use to get your product to market. Example. Maybe you have created the world’s greatest coffee maker. Your product is better, the coffee it creates is superior and independent labs have validated you are in a class by yourself in terms of quality, taste, durability, ease of use, aesthetics and all the things that matter. You start selling your coffee maker online and to local coffee shops. Two months later a major manufacturer knocks off a few of your features and unique concepts (inferior in every way, but the look and concept are passable as similar), they call their retailers who carry their current products and get their new one on the shelves. They tell their marketing team to aggressively run paid media to coffee lovers on social media announcing this new maker. They make discounted offers to current customers to upgrade to this new machine and BOOM, your product stagnates. You look like you are copying them. Your price point is higher. You have few retailers carrying your product. You have a niche, but your superior product will now struggle to make a dent.
It happens every day.
The other critical success factor is: in the right way. What I mean by this is simply that reaching the market (distribution) with a great product is massive, but you still have to have the right “offer”. So let’s use our coffee maker example again here and say YOU were the one that not only had a technically superior product, but also came up with a brilliant DISTRIBUTION strategy (maybe Coffee Magazine features you on the cover and mailed it to millions of coffee aficionados the same month that several of the biggest coffee blogs in the world recommended your product and became affiliates to help you sell it)… you are now talking to millions of people in your target market, GREAT. BUT…. your coffee maker costs $899 dollars and the “almost as good” makers are $299. Your maker is sold as a stand alone machine while a few of the other “premium” competitors have a payment plan to reduce the upfront payment AND include an online service with lessons on making coffee, discounts on beans and some other great offers. Suddenly you hit millions but not in a way where they are likely to buy your product.
So, before you spend years of your life designing the PERFECT PRODUCT, spend the time to nail a better business model (which includes distribution and an offer that resonates with your target market)… I work on these issues a TON with my members, so they are very important. The best product doesn’t always win.
If I want to be a successful entrepreneur, I have to make some big tradeoffs.
Of all the lies we are told, entrepreneurs and employees alike, this one hurts the most. You can relate it very closely to the HUSTLE lie but this one basically says: “Mrs. Entrepreneur, you are going to have to work super hard to create your business so please prepare your kids that you will have to miss an event here and there, and that sometimes you won’t be able to watch their games…” and “plan to give yourself a solid year or two of living in the grind before you can get back to balance”…
Another way to express this misconception is the Four Burner Theory which says there are 4 burners in your life (Imagine a stove with these four burners: Family, Health, Business, Friends).
The Four Burner Theory says to be successful in life you’ll have to turn one burner down (ie. something has to give while you are building your business and living in the grind)…. and to be REALLY successful, you have to turn down two!
That is often followed with another lie, which is “work hard now and you’ll be able to enjoy a great future”.
LIE, LIE, LIES.
Yes, you will have to work hard if you want to create success. No one will hand you success so there is 100% an element of hard work that you cannot and should not overlook. HOWEVER, this lie (If I want to be a successful entrepreneur, I have to make some big tradeoffs) is flat out wrong. As stated before, if you were to choose BUSINESS and decide to HUSTLE you would likely miss some of the most important and most powerful strategies to scale your business – DISTRIBUTION and LEVERAGE. But more importantly, if you choose to turn down one (or God forbid TWO) burners, you will have made a tradeoff bigger than business – you are trading your LIFE.
I made a decision in August of 2000 (20 years ago) that I wasn’t going to accept the tradeoffs (watch my video, where I tell MY story). I decided where most people said you could:
- Scale a company OR be a Committed/Present Dad
- Be the CEO of a Startup OR a Great Spouse
- Lead a big team OR travel the world
- Grow to 8 figure revenue OR be healthy and fit
I decided it had to be AND…. not OR. I would not accept the tradeoffs.
I would scale my companies AND commit to scaling my LIFE.
The most amazing thing happened, not only did I do those things, I was able to create bigger and better results in business because I was so focused on managing my time (to ensure I could have dinner with my daughters), I was hyper-focused on finding leverage (so I didn’t have to work 60+ hour weeks), I obsessed over creating powerful distribution (so I could travel for weeks at a time without fear of our sales dropping)… so instead of the accepting the tradeoffs, or looking for “balance” (which means something is giving at all times), the decision to not accept the tradeoffs and scale my LIFE actually CREATED the best results.
P.S. When you are ready, here are a couple of ways we can help you:
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