De-mantling a few myths around entrepreneurship

Leadership + Management Career + Application Entrepreneurship


Morra Aarons-Mele has coined the buzzword “Entrepreneurship Porn”: Facebook and Amazon both have become companies with a market capitalisation of more than a trillion dollars and hundreds of “young people in business school and graduate school want to go start ventures and be the next big entrepreneur”. 

Unfortunately, the statistics are not that great, since 80 per cent of new businesses fail and most small-business owners make about 44,000 dollars a year. So Morra Aarons-Mele felt there was “a need to pull back the curtain and be a little more honest” about entrepreneurship. She believes “that the media and business schools have created this very glossy sense that life as an entrepreneur is somehow better. This is why I call it porn”.

The founder of the digital agency Women Online and host of a podcast titled “Hiding in the Bathroom”, has written a book by the same name: “Hiding in the Bathroom: An Introvert’s Roadmap to Getting Out There (When You’d Rather Stay Home)” that examines some of those myths around entrepreneurs. For Knowledge@Wharton she explains why we can be happy and successful founders, even if we do not get as rich and famous as Mark Zuckerberg or Jeff Bezos.

Here is some of her advice:

It does not hurt to start a career in a big organisation. “I think that there is true value in having institutional knowledge, working in a large organisation, and having a boss that we really shouldn’t downplay. Whatever you do in your career, if you are dying to start a business at some point, that’s wonderful. But it doesn’t have to be the first thing you do.”

Small does not mean bad. “You don’t need to create a unicorn. I think a lot of hype is around the idea of scale. A small business is great, but the first word in it is small. And in America, we don’t like small things. We don’t think they’re sexy. There’s this huge focus on scale, which I think can also be dangerous.”

It is okay to be an introvert. Not all entrepreneurs have to be hustling and networking and going 900 mph all the time: “One of the reasons why I wrote my book is I wanted to give people like me tools to be successful small-business owners or entrepreneurs while carving out the alone time that we need.”

As a small business owner, be strategic in how you use social media. “Use social media to cultivate this sense that you are a leader, you’re a boss, you know what you’re doing and people should seek you out, especially if you’re a small-business owner or if you’re in the job market.”



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