Are you a wantrepreneur, and not an entrepreneur? Here are some tips to help you make the wantrepreneur to entrepreneur transition.
You are not an Entrepreneur.
Why? You ask because you just agreed to the first line.
Still, if you didn’t, No you are not an Entrepreneur. You are a ‘Wantrepreneur’ – the one who dreams to start a business without an action-oriented, on-the-ground reality mindset and I say that with many assumptions.
Some mid-20 professionals, who have either started with a job or have completed few years in a role, have this burning desire to solve problems, run a business, and earn some money while they change the status quo. Reading books, watching movies and learning from established entrepreneurs, these professionals receive enough motivation to jump into the pool of uncertainty and build their way up along the entrepreneurial trekking. Are you planning a similar trek?
It is astonishing to see the same people preparing well for small, near-to-city hill trek but never introspecting properly when it comes to leveraging their career, savings and family trust into starting a startup. The Startup buzzword is so fancy; it’s tempting, it’s classy.
Let’s look at some reasons in following categories and understand how an Entrepreneurial mindset is wrongly developed:
Your existence in the 9-to-5 job seems monotonous. Be it IT, Finance or any Industry, the pay scale does not interest you anymore. Love partners are scarce and the everyday party has lost purpose. You did have an epiphany with an idea once and now, a part of your brain, wants it to be implemented. You see your friends around and Voila! The team is ready.
You have all the time in the world to work on the idea and turn into a company. Maybe you are still in college or in a job; you think you can do it. I say you can but not without a realistic approach. If the only reason entrepreneurship is tempting because you have time and that you read a college dropout became successful or some professional guy left job and started a million-dollar business, then it’s wrong.
Surprise! Surprise! For all the ethical and moral reasoning, Entrepreneurship demands pragmatism with pinch of selfishness and greed to taste. Resonating Gordon Gecko’s wisdom, ‘Greed is good’. Think money before you start dreaming of being covered on Forbes. And to ground yourself to reality, Prototype is necessary to test the viability of your product, and thereby, your business plan. Will it earn money? A basic question even the unicorns of startup world are forced to answer every moment. Building an idea with initial dosage of losses is cool nowadays. You have to incur short term loss for long term gains is the new wisdom. I may agree but I strongly recommend keeping check on the unit- economics. It has to be positive early on. Incremental loss is a leak that can wreck the ship.
You’ve convinced yourself about your idea but hey, you need a team and few investors. It is advisable to always seek seed-fund (initial capital) from family and friends. Now you may have an internet product, hardware or a manufactured structure to sell as an idea but you need a team to help you. You look around and find your college friends or office colleagues with some talent and skills different from yours. You approach them, share ideas, hopefully with a Non-Disclosure signed and smile because now you have a team. Few weeks into the fledgling no-name/tentative-new-name startup you realize you need to constantly motivate your friends to work on the idea or your pesky relatives are not ready to share their experience or capital to help you. The passion is not unanimous and somewhere, deep-down, you’ve realized the dead end is near even before the start of the startup. Sad? Don’t be. It’s a common story. Interestingly, you have not even worn the entrepreneur hat yet.
Somehow you are empathetic towards the society with the idea you are building. You are all about giving to society. I say that is a really good thought. I would love to work for a leader like you but no thanks. I am not saying being empathetic is wrong but there has to be a switch. When an idea is being built, it is not a company. It has no profit-loss statement since it has no revenue. You are an entrepreneur only when the shop, online or offline, is OPEN and ready for business. To reach that state, you have to be brazen with your idea and selectively selfish for your success – brainstorm your team to be as passionate and build a business that earns some bucks!
“There is but one rule – hunt or be hunted” – Frank Underwood, House of Cards.
Who are you in this Entrepreneurial race? What is your idea? Who backs you? How good and passionate is your team? What financial investment are you committing? What is the Market blueprint? What is your goal? What is your purpose? What is your revenue model? So on and so forth. Even sitting in your class at your college or in your cubicle at your monotonous job, if you really want to wear the entrepreneurial hat, do you have a curious mind to find the answers for such questions? Do you have the energy to explain it to people you meet along the way? Do you have a plan?
For the argument presented and the reasons listed, my friend you have been lawyer’d.
If you realize by now, Entrepreneurship is all about money and decision making acuity. To build the right product, right team and get the right opportunities, one has to persevere with a success oriented mindset and push beyond individual limits. A mindset where you are not scared to make cold calls, send cold emails, talk some sugar-coated sentences filled with greedy virtue yet be passionate enough to look after your team and society. You are building a new moral ground for yourself and therefore, it will take time.
Before entering in the arena, build the brain muscle. Simulate scenarios.
You are bored and have time: Start running scenarios in your mind. Think why your idea has utility? What is your customer segment and how can you go about building your market? What exactly do you need from your team? How much financial investment needs to be committed? It is irrelevant if you’re in college or in job, you should develop clarity every day when you decide to build a business.
Theory is foundation. Experience is everything.
You have contacts and money: Be it your family, friends or mentors, understand the role of every person you share your idea with. For all the research from books or business magazines, market surveys or blogs, theory has its limits. To expand you need people with experience. Experience has value. Not only build contacts to expand network or bring in some money but also to gather insights from valuable experience. Understand the viability of your product through their lens and then verify with your understanding of product’s utility. On the other hand, you may end up challenging the status-quo, and if it’s a new invention, experience in market is anyways zero yet insights are valuable.
Success or nothing: Have this characteristic inculcated in every member of your team. But it does not mean that there shouldn’t be failure. Whenever there is some failure or slow down, there should be a positive response to overcome that obstacle. Build a culture where failure motivates people towards success not discourage them from pursuing the idea.
Shifting from a steady JOB to ENTREPRENEURSHIP:
“Your Entrepreneurial Journey starts only after the Shop is OPEN. Do not create liability beforehand”
If you are in job, then do not let go of fixed income until you are convinced by your own pitch and vision. And do not be convinced until the prototype actually works.
Dream big, no issues there, but reality is your friend. Dreams should end in prototype. If you have a team, then aggressively work towards building a prototype first and then curate a dream to build that big company.
Choosing a team:
Brainstorm about the market with your team. Each co-founder/member needs to know the market, and thereby, the customers. Reverse engineer from the market analysis, strategize product development and launch and then invest in expanding team or building infrastructure.
Do you have a Family business?
It is always interesting to do business with family. Everything works on trust and everyone has each other’s back.
But because you have the blood, doesn’t mean you need to serve.
Build your mindset by asking yourself: Why you? Why now? What ahead?
What is exactly your role in the business? If you are leading it, what value can you add? Do you have different ideas that you want to implement? Keep yourself in check and brainstorm ideas with family. After all, you already have a tangible business in hand.
Why do some Dropouts become business leaders?
This question is important because successful dropouts such as Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates or Steve Jobs motivate many youngsters to follow suit. However, introspection is always needed before you don the entrepreneurial hat.
Zuckerberg and Gates were Harvard dropouts. Getting into Harvard is already a tough task and they already had the skills or caliber to convert their candidacy. To point, Zuckerberg worked on his idea while in Harvard and also had initial users from within the same campus. With no vision to dominate the globe one day, he only planned to expand in educational establishments.
Somewhere these leaders were at the right time, right place with right opportunities and people around. Is that luck? No.
If you research on each of these dropouts or even on people such as Dhirubhai Ambani with the rags to riches stories, you will realize each of them had build a system to work on their goal. They were consistent on adding value in their entrepreneurial journey. They tried different things, connected with various people and always engaged themselves in developing their idea, eventually one day they struck gold and set the ball rolling to build a huge business empire. Out of every failure that rejects you; one success is all it takes to bring the good luck.
Interestingly, each of these leaders also required a strong peer group. Zuckerberg’s college mates were as passionate about Facebook as him. Subsequently, Bill Gates co-founder Paul Allen didn’t leave Gates side and neither did Steve Wozniack left Steve Jobs in early Apple days. On the other hand, Dhirubhai Ambani demanded loyalty and had a cult like following. Each has given as much importance to people as to money.
In summary, do not just be an ambitious entrepreneur who dreams but also consistently get in touch with reality. Understand the viability of your idea and connect with people that can bring diverse opinions to help you take action in your business. Go out there and be an entrepreneur now, will you?