The 5 Biggest Myths of Being an Entrepreneur, According to Sabena Suri

The 5 Biggest Myths 

of Being an Entrepreneur

Entrepreneurship is a buzzword in today’s tech-obsessed world. Which, in some ways, is an incredible reality. Our obsession with CEO’s, “The Valley,” and girl bosses have created a wave of dedicated innovators to solve our biggest problems and make our world a better place. At its best, entrepreneurship brings together the best and brightest people from a diversity of ages, races, and backgrounds. At its worst, the world gets another startup solving a niche problem we didn’t even know we had (drop shipping for farm-to-table dog food?), but that’s another article altogether.

With our culture’s hyper-focus on building a business, there’s a lot that the media (and movies, shows, and books) gets wrong, likely because many of the following myths make for a great narrative. Here are five of the most commonly held beliefs about entrepreneurship and why they’re totally off-base.

1. Entrepreneurs are Born, Not Made

There is an enduring myth that anyone who has ever started a business has a special gene that enabled them to do so. Reality check: the only thing separating you from the Elon Musks of the world is a sticky idea that solves a problem combined with the guts to actually share it with whoever will listen.

Some of us are born with the gift of the gab; for others of us, nothing sounds worse than being your own hype-man. The good news? A great idea will make you a natural salesperson. It’ll become second nature to talk to anyone who will listen about your big idea and why it’ll most definitely change the industry, their lives, the course of history…

Starting a company will also bring out the innate sense of intuition we all posses, will make you more of a calculated risk taker, and force you to become a leader and motivate those around you. You’ll master the art of determination, perseverance, and humility. You’ll learn to ask the hard questions and continue to search for the best answers.

None of these aspects of ourselves are things we either have or don’t. They are simply a reaction to the everyday scenarios that come with running your own company. You’re forced to flex different muscles, and, with practice, you get really good at it.

2. Luck > Hard Work

I’m a big believer that there’s an element of destiny in every part of what happens to us. One of my favorite examples was being “forced” to take Chelsea, my future co-founder to lunch on her first day at our first job– an LA-based ad agency. We became fast friends, and the rest is history…and some fortunate divine intervention.

We’ve had other strokes of good luck too, like finding perfect-for-us warehouse spaces, hiring an all-star team, and garnering amazing press that opened so many doors. Yet between those milestones was something a lot less sexy than magic, luck, fate, or destiny: rolling up our sleeves and getting our hands dirty.

Courtesy of Sabena Suri; Co-founder of BoxFox

I’m a big believer in creating your own luck. We’re always quick to recognize moments when the stars somehow aligned for us, but we equally remember all the steps it took for us to get there, like walking into a meeting ultra-prepared, always remembering to follow up with a warm lead, and treating each customer we get like a VIP.

3. If You Build It, They Will Come

We’ve heard it before and for a good reason: without a clear, innovative, and differentiated idea, your business is pretty much guaranteed to fail. Making sure whether people will actually use your product/service/invention is step #1 before launching any new venture, and something we took very seriously early on. We surveyed friends and family, asking if, how, and why they might use a service like ours. We asked things like: What were they looking for in a gifting service? How often would they buy a gift? What brands and products were must-haves? Those were vital questions in building a product that fulfilled a real need.

But then the hard work began: spreading the word and actually getting people to buy (and buy into) what we were selling. We knew the brand could change people’s lives and relationships, but only if they actually knew we existed.

Harnessing the power of social media, content marketing, and word of mouth helped us grow from idea to actual revenue-generating business, and four years in, those strategies have turned our modest $5k into over $5.5 million revenue.  

4. Business Never Sleeps

I don’t have children, but I’ve been told that growing a business is a lot like raising a kid. They both need change constantly, everyone has an opinion on what you *should* be doing, and you don’t always have the answers. The one distinction I’d draw is that while raising a child doesn’t come with an off switch; I’m a firm believer in the fact that your business can and should.

While your inbox is always going to come with a steady stream of emails to respond to, you’ll always have a customer with a burning question, and your employees will always have an issue you need to mediate, none of these things should take precedence over your sanity or health. The truth is, the work’s going to be there tomorrow, and you need to equip yourself to take it on in the right frame of mind because none of us can pour from an empty cup for long.

The way I see it: a good night’s sleep is not taking your foot off the gas. It’s ensuring that you’re able to pay full attention at the wheel the next day.

5. Venture Capital = Validation

When we were in the pre-launch stages, one of the first questions we consistently received from well-intentioned friends, family, and colleagues was “how are you going to fund it?” Which was a fair point, but also something we didn’t worry about as much as people perhaps wanted us to. We knew that if we really focused on the idea, the money would come. To launch the brand, the three of us co-founders pooled together a small personal investment of $5,000. It was enough to get our first round of boxes, inventory, and website running. 

Once we started to grow organically, we put every cent we made back into the business. As we scaled and got more attention from our network and beyond, the questions became: Are you ever going to raise capital? How much have you raised? Why wouldn’t you raise?

It’s not surprising. The media loves talking about VC-backed companies, which has led all to believe that there’s only one way to do things: come up with an idea, raise millions of dollars in venture capital, grow as quickly as you can, raise again, and get acquired or IPO. This path works amazingly well for some companies, and they deserve all the press they’re getting. But just like a human being (or a child), every company is 100% unique, with its own needs, challenges, and future. There is no one-size-fits-all — we’re doing things our own way, and it’s working for us.

In our four years since launching, these are just some of the myths my co-founders and I have uncovered. Hopefully, they peel back the curtain and show you the real side of running a business—and inspire you to get started on your own!

Sabena Suri

Sabena Suri, co-founder and Chief Strategy Officer of BOXFOX. Her rollercoaster ride through entrepreneurship as an LA-based millennial is an exciting and motivational story of success that I believe your audience would enjoy. Recently featured on Inc.com, Forbes and Entrepreneur, Sabena juggles managing the brand’s corporate gifting arm, identifying global brand partners, discovering new ways to enhance the online retail experience and continuing to keep BOXFOX as the foremost brand for quality, premium and thoughtful gift giving.

1 Comment
  1. Happy 4th Anniversary! What a fantastic article! It felt like drops of wisdom from Tony Robbins, Deepak Chopra and Oprah all rolled into one! I love your spirit of business. It has given me a spark of motivation in my own business! Thank you, Sabena, for sharing.

    I sent my first BoxFox to a dear friend in Boston for her 50th Birthday. We’ve been friends since 7th grade, so I wanted to do something special. She loved the gifts and was so surprised and delighted by the content. (And texted me pictures the minute she opened it, of course.) I was surprised and delighted by how easy and fun it was to put together the box on-line, and it still felt like a personal gift!

    Cheers to next year, and many to follow!

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