How to Spot the Fakes
Some people like to talk about the entrepreneurial life without actually living it. As much as I would love to say that I have especially keen intuition, I believe anyone could sit with some of the folks I’ve spoken to over the years and realize in a matter of minutes that they were wantrepreneurs. Nevertheless, I want to share my experiences as a cautionary tale for younger entrepreneurs who may not know how to spot bad mentors — or their own bad habits.
If someone claims to be an entrepreneur but isn’t willing to go all-in for the business, you’ve found yourself a fake. He or she may want to run with the lions, but when push comes to shove, the faker isn’t willing to do what it takes to keep up with the pride.
I once came across a wannabe who’d written a well-structured business plan. He mentioned the number of clients he had acquired and asked what kind of investment he might need to grow his client base further. But he had a 9-to-5 gig, and his startup was an on-the-side project. I told him he was out of his mind if he thought someone was going to give him time or money to grow the “dream” that had only received 10 percent of his own effort.
If you suspect that a self-proclaimed entrepreneur may be a wantrepreneur, get the answer to this question: “On a 1-to-10 scale, how badly do you want this?” If the answer is anything but 10, move on.
Who’s the Real Deal?
Many authentic entrepreneurs exist. Take Mark Cuban: He’s an investor, an owner, a chairman, and more. And he’s been working hard since childhood to get where he is.
Another example is a friend of mine, Jayson Gaignard. He has a great story: He had a company and then went through some hard times. He went broke to bet the farm, but he now runs a company called MastermindTalks, which I’ve been participating in for almost two years. I like his style. He’s the essence of entrepreneurship: never giving up, rising from the ashes, and remaining a family guy through it all.
Marketing expert Russell Brunson is another authentic entrepreneur. I’ve never met him, but I have a webinar of his about copywriting and ClickFunnels playing as I write this. I like his style, too. He’s a hustler with a robust business.
Telltale Signs of True Entrepreneurs
The people who have earned the entrepreneur title possess a few key qualities. If you think you’re an entrepreneur but lack these traits, think again:
- Hustle: When the other guy leaves for the weekend or even takes a nap, you need to exploit his absence and blow right past him. You have to propel yourself with the drive that he can’t muster.
- Resilience: A lot of people can’t wait to say, “I told you so.” You will have setbacks. You will take some punches. You will sometimes ask yourself why you’re doing what you’re doing. In the end, however, you know in your heart the reasons for pursuing entrepreneurship, so bounce back and show them what you’re made of.
- Defiance of the status quo: Entrepreneurs always figure something out when the status quo indicates that no options remain. Don’t follow the crowd. Set your own standards.
What’s the Big Deal?
You might be wondering why it’s wrong for people to call themselves entrepreneurs without having the experience to back up that claim. Here’s why: They’re poseurs.
To the poseurs: I’m really glad you read “Good to Great.” I’m stoked you were the third person hired by that startup. I’m ecstatic that you sold gum to other third-graders at a 5 percent markup. But you’re no entrepreneur.
Show me some blood. Show me some sweat. Show me some tears. Show me how you really made a difference. Show me that you created something that matters.
Tossing water on an oven fire doesn’t make you a firefighter. And thinking of something cool and working only a little bit to make it happen doesn’t make you an entrepreneur.