One Of These Days, You May Not Be An Entrepreneur
If I had a dollar for every time someone has said to me, “One of these days, I’m going to start my own company,” I’d be rich. If this day ever comes for all these people, we will be overrun by startups. Yet I don’t lose any sleep over either of these possibilities.
Most people procrastinate from time to time, but I suspect that the challenge here is somewhat deeper than that. So I did my own informal survey of business books, to gather the key reasons why most people never start the journey. If you recognize yourself in any of these categories, you may be more of a “wanna be” than a real entrepreneur:
- You are a dreamer, not a do-er. Most people in this category actually prefer to think of themselves as “idea people,” rather than implementers. In my view, the dreaming part and the idea are the easy parts, and the hard part is building a workable plan and making it successful. A strong vision is required, but that’s different from the dream.
- Unable to learn the new skills. This starts happening to people immediately after school, who think that academia is where skills are acquired. Actually, schools are only for learning how to learn. Specific expertise is self-learned from experience, not books. The ability to learn doesn’t decline with age, unless confidence and interest declines.
- Unhealthy fear of failure. A wise man I once knew said “He who is never afraid, he’s a fool.” Successful people overcome their rational fears, and move on to get the job done. Others are debilitated by their fear, and never start. Expecting some failure, and learning to deal with it, is one of the most effective ways to learn. Investors know that all too well.
- Hidden fear of success. Believe it or not, many people fear success, and stop short if they see it approaching. There is, in fact, plenty of evidence that it takes a strong person to manage their life after success – note the many failures after success in winning the lottery, or after topping the charts in their chosen profession.
- You are a perfectionist, not a pragmatist. A new product or service will never be perfect in a rapidly changing world, so why start? At the other extreme, I know inventors that have been working on the same idea for thirty years, and have nothing to show for it. A proven path to success in business is to get something out, and iteratively improve it.
- Not focused, or easily distracted. Successful entrepreneurs have a strong vision, and don’t let anyone or anything lead them astray. In business, this means you have to keep your priorities straight, and separate the important from the urgent. Learn to commit, focus, organize your work, and delegate when appropriate.
- Always finding excuses. The first principle of entrepreneurship is that “the buck stops here” – you have to accept ultimate responsibility for whatever happens, good or bad, Excuses are artificial barriers for not starting something, or ways of convincing yourself that someone or something else is responsible for your failures. Neither is productive.
- You are not a self-starter. If you need someone else to tell you when to develop your business plan and organize your time, then “one of these days” will probably never come for you. With the entrepreneurial lifestyle, it’s up to you to set the standards, be the model, and actively do the follow-through.
According to Psychology Today, some twenty percent of people identify themselves as chronic procrastinators. Among wishful entrepreneurs, I think the percentage is nearer to ninety. If that is your current state, it need not be a life sentence by default. Some of you will change your outlook and your behavior, one of these days. When will you get around to it?
Written by Martin Zwilling
You might also be interested in
Co-founder Equity Split: A New Framework to Objectively Divide Startup Ownership and Get Back to Building a Business
We’ve just released our free Co-founder Equity Split tool. It’ll give you a fair and objective recommendation about how to divide your startup’s ownership, so you and your co-founders will have a sensible, real starting point for this notoriously hard, crucially important conversation.
Many startup founders find themselves lacking clarity and direction when it comes time to divide their
With startup growth up 61% since 2014 and more investment programs emerging, it can be overwhelming for founders to know just where to jump in. As the most startup-friendly accelerator on the planet, MassChallenge has helped 835 startup companies around the world, who have raised over $1.1 billion in funding and created over 6,500 jobs. We have seen startups at
Update 2017: To help you understand how your startup will look to investors according to this methodology, we’ve created a fundraising feedback tool that will give you investor-level insight into your startup’s performance. In just about 15 minutes, it will tell you how much money your startup is likely to raise, where you can find that capital, and what to
After less than a year, Glassbreakers is now a team of 10, we have thousands of active users on our free product, we’ve expanded into enterprises with paying customers and raised over a million in seed funding. After a few of my Glassbreaker matches inquired, I started to reflect on what it’s like to build a startup
The median investor looking at your proposal is in her 40s. Her eyes are going, not to mention her brain. I look at a lot of spreadsheets and analytic reports, and way too many are difficult to read and therefore hard to understand.
In an effort to make my life easier, I’ve summarized here the steps that will