The one sentence summary
The Entrepreneurial Myth damages entrepreneurs’ mental health, skews public policy, amplifies business failure rates and undermines global economies.
WHAT THE BOOK SAYS
- Entrepreneurs are deified as all-powerful, never-fail gurus who shoulder our collective necessity for enterprise. They are promoted through education, politics and the media, but this bears little relation to the messy reality of running a small business.
- Based on 30 years of analysis, the book challenges the pervasive misrepresentation of entrepreneurs and recommends that we build a more effective version that encourages higher levels of resilience and wellbeing.
- Three pillars prop up the analysis:
1. The ancient history of storytelling, myth and metaphor explains why we deify entrepreneurs. They are variously described in the press and literature as magicians, developing unicorns, pitching on Dragon’s Den, larger than life, stalking businesses, taking on the giants, and so on. Semiotics and mental maps reinforce all of this.
2. Social psychology explores the personal impact of the myth on individual business creators. The myth favours white males as the heroes. In the UK, all female teams are awarded just 2.2% of the $85billion invested by venture capitalists. The myth excludes talent, demonizes weakness, celebrates churn, isolates the entrepreneur, and compromises mental health.
3. Economics explores the costly economic exchange society makes for the inefficiencies of the Entrepreneurial Myth. Only 10% of small businesses last beyond 5 years, and yet governments the world over pour huge funds into stimulating and helping them. It’s bad economics. If the myth was tempered and business success rates improved by just 10%, it could be worth £19.6 billion to the UK economy
- The myth looks on the bright side. It ignores higher than average cases of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and narcissism by dressing them up as laudable extremes of character.
- Hypomania (a mood state characterized by persistent lack of inhibition and mood elevation that is noticeably different from the person’s typical behaviour) is rife.
- The myth furiously peddles a cinematic illusion: Eureka! Funding. Growth. Success. Sales. It is mawkish and sentimental. Reach for the stars! Leap before you look! Follow these ten tips to insane success!
WHAT’S GOOD ABOUT IT
- The book offers a real business manifesto:
- Speak: Speak up, be frank, listen hard, be well.
- Reflect: Who are you? Be brave, learn the lesson and start again.
- Connect: Discover your purpose, find your tribe, share talents and teams.
- Learn: Think about business like an aviator. Be a student of your own performance and try to improve the entire industry.
- Persist: Think about business like an athlete. Have the dedication to take setbacks and develop resilience.
WHAT YOU HAVE TO WATCH
- Not much. It is a well-argued case that may well face resistance from… aspirant entrepreneurs.