To be, or not to be…which are you?

Entrepreneur VS. Want-trepreneur

It seems as if every other person I meet wants to be an entrepreneur, believing that they have what it takes to be the “next big thing”. The problem is, having a great idea isn’t what makes you an entrepreneur (or even a visionary). Hundreds of thousands of people dream of being successful entrepreneurs but to actually make it, takes a lot more than a smart idea and a few thousand dollars borrowed from your nearest and dearest.

The research I have conducted over the years has shown me that there are three main traits that separate the Entrepreneurs from the Want-trepreneurs:

1. Passion

Everyone knows that to be a successful entrepreneur you have to have passion, but Wantrepreneurs are only passionate about their business, while entrepreneurs are passionate about business generally. I believe it comes down to what the true motive is to become an Entrepreneur. Wantrepreneurs just want the title without the work, and are more often than not in it to try and “get rich quick”. In contrast the true Entrepreneurs that I know would still be working in their businesses even if money was no issue, because they love the business building process, not the money

2. Appetite for Risk

True entrepreneurs put it all on the line. They don’t calculate the percentages and play it safe, because they are all in. That’s why many successful Entrepreneurs have been bankrupt or headed up several failed ventures before they eventually become the “overnight success” that has now made them famous. Being willing to back yourself to the hilt, to ride with the punches and then get back up, dust yourself off and start over again are all traits of entrepreneurs that will (eventually) make it. Well known examples of entrepreneurs who failed before becoming successful are

Henry Ford – founded 2 different motor manufacturers that both failed before he found success with Ford Motor Company.

Milton Hershey – Hershey’s is one of the most recognized names in chocolate. But before founding the company, Milton Hershey was fired from his apprenticeship with a printer. And then he tried to start three different candy companies, all of which failed, before starting the Lancaster Caramel Company and the Hershey Company that made his sweet confection a household name.

Colonel Sanders – Until the age of 65, Colonel Sanders was a failed businessman. He careened from career to career, trying his hand at everything — from farming to manufacturing acetylene lamps. He was fired from a number of salaried positions for brawling, and none of his entrepreneurial ventures took off. However, his final business, Kentucky Fried Chicken (today branded as KFC), is now one of the world’s most successful fast-food businesses.

Reid Hoffman – Before co-founding LinkedIn and investing in big names like PayPal and Airbnb, Hoffman created SocialNet, an online dating and social networking site that ultimately failed.

Steve Jobs – formed Apple, was fired from the company he formed before being bought back, and going on to make it into the company with the highest capitalization in the world.

3. Discipline and Sacrifice

Wantrepreneurs have an idealistic vision of what it is like to be an entrepreneur. Most see it as an “easy” way to get rich quick or they chase the idea as a way to set their own hours and be their own boss and not have to answer to anyone. But not having a boss means you will need to be extremely disciplined and much harder on yourself. Setting your own hours probably means you’ll be pouring a lot more in than you would in a salaried position, because you’ll be overflowing with ideas, tasks and projects that need to get done.

On the other hand, successful entrepreneurs use profit as a measuring scale of their own success, know the long hours they need to work to make it happen and understand that the only time you see the word shortcut before success is in the dictionary.

It’s ridiculous the roller coaster of emotions you have to go through in order to start, grow and eventually exit your own business. You’ll have moments of total despair and frustration where you wonder if you were crazy to even attempt this, but you’ll also have insane highs where you feel like you’re on top of the world.