Entrepreneurs are a breed we come across very often, and many people we know are choosing to shift from the comfort of a regular 9 to 5 job to the thrill of entrepreneurship. In fact, this shift has become so common that most of us have heard about a seemingly endless amount of ventures being started and failing. But the more I look at the world of people starting out with new business ideas, the more I bump into a new breed of people who call themselves entrepreneurs but who possess very few of the normal entrepreneurial qualities. Let’s call them “wantrepreneurs.” And to tell you about the trend I see today:
“Entrepreneurship” is going out of fashion, and a new breed is ruling the world — “wantrepreneurs.”
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What is a “Wantrepreneur”?
Have you checked your social media accounts recently? Seen those fancy posts from entrepreneurs and thought to yourself, “So, entrepreneurs are instantly successful now?” This new breed of entrepreneurs is all about touting their awesome lives. There’s even a mantra to go with it: “We’re living the start-up life.” And because they’re trying to start their own business, they call themselves entrepreneurs. But I think that the term doesn’t apply to them. Starting a company doesn’t make you an entrepreneur per se. Being an entrepreneur takes so much more. That’s why I’d call these people wantrepreneurs. They see all the great results entrepreneurship brings and want that too, right away.
I simply don’t see the above mentioned people as entrepreneurs in the real sense of the word. Entrepreneurs are hard working people who use money wisely and plan carefully. Entrepreneurs do use social media, but in a very different way. In fact, I say that the people who use social media to show what extravagant lives they lead should be called “wantrepreneurs” automatically because that’s what suits them best. So how do you categorize a person like that? Look for these inequalities:
- Their social media posts are all about themselves — how great they look in their Armani suit, the cruise liner they took on a holiday, or the yacht they’ve been eyeing.
- You know very little about their business. All that you know perhaps is the name of their firm and the status that calls them an “entrepreneur” or a CEO or something equally grand.
- You know a lot about their personal life. In fact, much more than you need to. You know where they’ve had breakfast or dinner and where they’re going to party tonight.
- They’re obsessed with being picture perfect. So you see hundreds of selfies and a personal “thanks” to all those who “like” or comment on them.
But is the trend of wantrepreneurs a good one or a bad one? Some may argue that having a good lifestyle is what it’s all about. Some will comment that they, in fact, would love to be in the shoes of the guy on that cruise! Others may also say that, after all, becoming rich is the end result of entrepreneurship, and the guy who shared it on social media is already there. But those with a bit more experience know what it really takes to achieve success and that of the stuff they post is fluff and fake.
The wantrepreneurs, on the other hand, know very little about what it takes. In their hurry to become rich and famous, they are missing a big middle piece. It’s like they are jumping from the idea of becoming an entrepreneur to the “now I’m rich enough to splurge” phase directly. What’s unfortunate is that they completely overlook plenty of stuff that happens in between. In fact, that’s where the real action lies.
Entrepreneurship isn’t about becoming rich and famous overnight — and that’s a statement I keep repeating over and over again. But then look at the trend, and you’ll see that very few ideas that start up actually succeed. Most of them last for a few months or a year at the maximum before falling apart. Per Forbes, approximately 90% of start-ups fail. It is only a small 10% that succeed — and only 1% that do very well. This isn’t anything new, but I’m guessing that percentage would be a lot higher if the people’s focus wasn’t so much on getting there immediately with as little effort as possible. Very few entrepreneurs are able to shape their ideas into a commercial business venture.
So Then, Is the Word “Entrepreneur” Dead?
I really hope not because at the end of it all, it is the entrepreneurs and not the wantrepreneurs who can bring tangible change to the world. It is they who bring new ideas into the market with unique solutions and actually make them happen.
If you want to be sure if this is the case, all we need to do is take a look at the world’s biggest and richest entrepreneurs for inspiration. Take Mark Zuckerberg, for instance, who spent hours and days coding, rather than hanging out at some awesome frat party. Had he spent his time like most people do, Facebook would have been a non-entity and Zuckerberg a nobody. However, today he is one of the richest entrepreneurs the world has generated. The story of Bill Gates is similar. Entrepreneurship without hustle is nothing, and selling your software without even having it is about as hustle as it gets.
Since things are different today than, say, 15 years ago, maybe the word “entrepreneur” is indeed due for a rebranding. I’m not talking about a rebranding in the sense of the wantrepreneur. No, I’m talking about something new entirely.
Become a “Lifestyle-preneur”
The days of the door to door salesman making it big are long gone. The hustle has changed. And that’s a good thing because where previously an entire state would pretty much stop working after 5:00 p.m. since there was nothing to do anyway, that’s no longer the case. If you’re running a business, you can call people 24/7 these days. That’s why things are slowly starting to change. Instead of competitive pressure, that 24/7 window is now turning into a window of flexibility. Sure, you still have to work 16 hours a day. But you can work whenever you want, wherever you want.
The nature of work is changing, too. Where previously you had to literally do whatever it took, today you can make choices. I do this, this and this, but I outsource that. Have only one hour of work to give away? No problem! That’s huge. Time has become a commodity available to everyone, and you know what? People are actually starting to use it.
Keep the Dream Alive
For all those who really want to make a difference, I suggest they “keep the entrepreneur alive.” Just in a new way. Don’t be one of the wannabes; instead, become the real deal. And for the real entrepreneurs to understand what it takes, it is very important to learn from not only their mistakes but also from the mistakes others like them have made. And in today’s context, you’re finally able to live your life the way you want in the process. You’re still going to be doing loads of hours, but you can do them however you want. Today, there are no restrictions left.
For entrepreneurship to give you its best results, it requires a tremendous amount of work.
- Make your idea workable. You need to make your idea workable and take your work very seriously. Many people make the mistake of treating it just like another hobby. Don’t fall into that trap.
- Network. No man is an island, especially not when business ventures are involved. Every business person needs to network with people, who form a part of your value chain. If you think that posting fancy pictures on social media is a way to network, then remember this — your narcissist image will only take you away from people and not closer to them.
- Use social media wisely. Use the benefits of social media’s reach, but not just for bragging about how great you are. Instead, use it in a way that builds your brand value and doesn’t take away from it.
- Work, work, work. These are the three words that’ll form the core of your business. Think of the effort put into a 9 to 5 job, and double it for your venture. You have to be at it, right from the stage of planning, to budgeting and then executing.
New ventures need to grow quickly. The first year is crucial because slow initial growth only slows down the momentum for the years ahead. Alternatively, fast growth translates to an expanded customer base and a wider variety of work, which needs to be handled with improved strategies.
How does this tie in with the wantrepreneur’s way of doing things? Well, often they have a great idea, get some money from investors, and squander it all in the first year. They’ll spend ridiculous amounts on branding and a nice office and not really achieve anything. It all looks great. The company looks like it’s growing and hiring people, and everyone has loads of money. But it’s not the company’s money, and nothing about it has been earned with the company’s product or service. So, while a wantrepreneur may be pleased with his illusion of fast growth in the first year, a normal entrepreneur or a lifestyle-preneur wouldn’t like this. For them, it isn’t time to relax.
I’d like to sum it up by saying that entrepreneurship isn’t about earning or getting access to quick money and splurging it on stuff you’re passionate about. Entrepreneurship in itself should be the “stuff” you’re passionate about. It should be about creating something that will sustain even long after you are gone. It is about creating a legacy that will last forever and perhaps make people wonder how you could’ve possibly created it. Money is volatile, but legacies, like good businesses, remain.
Investors: Have you seen an influx of “wantrepreneurs” on social media (or otherwise)? What do you think of this new trend?
Let’s discuss in the comments section below!