When people think of entrepreneurs, they often think of a small handful of individuals that successfully managed to usher small startups into global conglomerates. These would include the likes of Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg, Jeff Bezos, and others. Unfortunately, this small handful of the uber-wealthy and successful entrepreneurs are all-too-often viewed as the stereotypical norm for entrepreneurs. Not only is this image misleading, but it is incredibly damaging. Here are 4 reasons that entrepreneurial stereotypes are damaging to our society.

They keep people from branching out on their own

The American economy is actually dependent on small, independent businesses giving consumers more choices than the global conglomerates. Without entrepreneurs branching out on their own, global conglomerates just absorb and absorb, getting larger and larger. Not everyone can build a company like Apple or Amazon, but you also don’t have to in order to be successful. When tech giants become the benchmark for success, it discourages people from even attempting to start their own small businesses. In truth, a business does not have to be some global conglomerate to be successful. In your town alone, there are probably plenty of successful independent businesses, all started by enterprising individuals who just didn’t want to work for someone else.

They keep older people from starting businesses

Steve Jobs started Apple out of his mom’s garage and Mark Zuckerburg founded Facebook in his dorm room. This creates a stereotype that only young people can be successful entrepreneurs. In truth, a 2018 study from Duke University revealed that the average age of entrepreneurs starting a successful business is 45 years old. The problem is that successful young tech wizards are not the norm, but rather the stuff of legends. Unfortunately, those legends have become stereotypes.

They create a misunderstanding of what skills actually matter when starting a business

The only job in the tech world that Steve Jobs had prior to founding Apple was testing motherboards at Atari. A job that he also most likely obtained fraudulently. In addition, he succeeded there only by essentially passing Steve Wozniak’s work off as his own. The truth is, Steve Jobs actually knew very little about computers but he knew a lot about people. Focusing on a handful of wildly successful tech entrepreneurs creates the false impression that entrepreneurs have to be tech-savvy to succeed.