In the wake of the great recession and the rise of the gig economy, an entire industry has been born, supplying distractions to wantrepreneurs. These are the people who want to have all of the fruits of business ownerhsip, but often avoid the core, value creating work. They instead do everything they can to peacock, and create an image of a business effort, and consume a lot of products in the process. These include programs, books, videos, apps, performances, conferences, and spiritual events, and other acts of mental masturbation, to help you cope with your fear of moving forward. Here are 14 symptoms of wantrepreneurship to watch out for:
1. Reading books but not taking the recommended actions.
2. Spending more time looking at, attending, and talking about inspirational/motivational events, conferences, TED talks and YouTube videos…than actually taking inspirational action.
3. Making agreements to first obtain an encyclopedic knowledge of business models before working to build yours.
4. Setting lofty goals, having regular strategic meetings about those lofty goals, and failing to connect the dots between where your at and the milestones that will bring you there.
5. Getting lost in the ego-driven battle of social comparison of who in your community is trying harder, who is aiming higher, and who is a more dedicated or serious entrepreneur. This shifts the focus from building a successful model, to building the “image” of success.
6. Starting a social-cause non-profit because you think a) it can be more of a hobby b) it will be easier and/or c) it will help you avoid competing with others for attention dollars. It won’t work, no matter how righteous your cause. It doesn’t work that way. Behind closed doors, sitting down with founders, digging beneath the positioning statement, you’ll often find the core motivations to be this ridiculous.
7. Using any life/work balance excuse, or ultra spiritual reasoning to help you avoid facing a blank page, a blinking cursor, writer’s block, creator’s block, executor’s block, a lack of users, and empty seats.
8. Starting up other side ventures and giving more energy at starting them than making the business you have more successful. If you’re focused on the lipstick on the pig, the design, and window dressing, than the big picture, and whole machine, you might be a designer, but you haven’t built a business yet.
9. Spending more time deciding your role, and title than working on your core business. I’ve seen first hand board members spend more time on this than focusing on meeting their own mission, reminds me of a nonprofit, Trusted Advisers Group.
10. Spending anytime more than 20 minutes a day processing or reacting to a feeling of outrage, by any one thing, especially something you saw on Facebook, Twitter and the web. What a beautiful distraction.
11. Seeking media coverage, and local business awards for your pre-launch, to kickstart, your gofundme campaign. Even if you get the 40 under 40 award, it doesn’t change your bank account or suddenly put your business on solid ground.
12. Practicing spray and pray networking; attending every social mixer you can, without a clear agenda and plan, and writing it off in your mind as a business activity. Hint: Chambers of commerce designed their entire business model on this activity.
13. Acting like a celebrity, buying glamorous gadgets and trinkets to broadcast a bullshit message of success (on credit especially) and telling everyone it is going amazing. This is really bad because the dishonesty is recognized as a guarded wall of bullshit, isolating you from a community of peers, friends and family who can help you overcome obstacles and call you out on the bullshit that’s getting in your way.
14. (Although this one will probably earn me letters, and kill my traffic) – Confusing an MLM multi-level or network marketing with being an entrepreneur. You’re running a shitty reselling business that places all of the risk on your end of the table, and then pressuring friends and family to buy your crap out of guilt and compassion. I’m glad you like the tupperware, life insurance (I’m including you here), jewelry, essential oils, plant based supplements, shakes, beach body, and sex toys (can’t leave those out). Anything with obvious exploitation and insane turnaround (no sales to be had outside of friends and family). This can be good practice for a lot of good habits, but don’t confuse this with the big picture of starting, building, optimizing a new venture. It’s not. Sometimes it helps to hear it from a complete stranger, you’re a wantrepreneur, and if you’re pressuring friends and family to participate, you’re hovering around earning an asshole prize.
15 *Bonus* If you spend more time studying, or attempting to use the power of “The Secret” to beef up your “manifesting” skills, while neglecting your willful action and followthrough skillls, it’s probably not moving things forward.
These are the habits of the new consumer and I’ve done all of them and I’m sure you’ve done at least a few. If you’re not doing any of these, I’m sure you notice people who do, who try to get your attention. Pat yourself on the back and get back to work. If you find yourself falling victim to these habits, dig yourself out by calling yourself out in moments of honesty. Ask yourself, are you truly working to build your business, or are you just consuming goods and services so you can tell yourself you are “trying” ? It’s fine if you are, as long as you’re not lying to yourself and others about it.
Here are 3 tips to help you break free of these habits.
1. Put the vision aside and look at what’s in front of you. The epic 5 year vision of your business was based on complete unmitigated bullshit. It’s great to have dreams and goals, but not if failing to meet them is stopping you from moving and crushing you with shame and guilt. Success on the magnitude of your grand vision is not likely to come over night. You need to break your model down into parts that are achievable by you. Start with a micro business. Start with the absolute smallest product for one client.
2. Develop customer personas. The simplest, duct-tapiest, bootstrappinist, way of doing this is to think of someone who you really admire and respect, and believe is symbolic of a group of customers you want to serve, and focus on creating epic deliverables for them. Keep them in mind, and try and sell them. And see what comes of it.
3. Measure what you’re doing each day. You should be spending 3-4 hrs on deep work, that is moving your business forward each and every day.
# Check your “preneurship”.