Entrepreneur vs. Wantrepreneur: Which ONE are YOU?

Have you ever wondered what the difference between a wantrepreneur and an entrepreneur is? If so, then stick with me. In this article, I’m going to break down five key differences that I’ve observed working both with wantrepreneurs and entrepreneurs.

Difference #1: Attitudes around action.

Wantrepreneurs are typically the types of people that love to consume content around entrepreneurship. They’ll listen to podcasts like EOFire or How I Built This from NPR and try to think about different ways that they can start new businesses, but they never actually start taking action towards actually validating a business idea.

Instead, they always want to talk to, or listen to another entrepreneur tell their story about how they started their successful venture. Just from looking at the entrepreneurship niche within YouTube, you can see that this sort of content is popular. There’s channels like Evan Carmichael’s, which compiles interviews with famous entrepreneurs.

But if you actually break down what these entrepreneurs are saying in these both short and long form interviews, you’ll realize that they’re just speaking in general platitudes and not really giving any secret sauce behind how they made their successful venture.

On the flip side of things, real entrepreneurs tend to absorb content and then quickly apply it and start iterating on their concept. Their big thing is figuring out what specific offer they can present as an opportunity for their prospect to turn that prospect into into a customer. The majority of efforts are focused on creating a minimum viable product, seeing how it’s responded to in the marketplace and then continuing to improve the customer experience.

Real entrepreneurs are more than willing to hold themselves in a room and actually work away at their idea, then potentially have to speak to another entrepreneur or business mentor to get feedback on their idea. An example that I can think of, of a wantrepreneur versus an entrepreneur is I used to work out of a co-working space where this one guy actually had started a business, but every single week, he was telling me about how he was meeting with another mentor or another person to get more feedback about his business, as opposed to actually talking to the customers that he was trying to sell to.

So after nine months or 12 months in the co-working space, I noticed that his business hadn’t really grown that much since the very first day I met him and he was still getting more and more feedback from other people. As a result, he was burning through cash and it wasn’t long before his business had to shut down.

But the fact that this guy was able to even find seed investors should motivate you to think about actually taking action on an idea that you have because if they were willing to fund this guy who had little to no traction after nine to 12 months, then they would probably be willing to fund you if you had the right idea.

Difference #2: Selectiveness when pitching.

Because wantrepreneurs are all as good at hyping their products, they stick to what they’re good at, which is talking about things rather than doing things.

On the flip side of things, entrepreneurs are more than willing to often talk about their ideas, but they’d much rather be building them in most situations. They selectively choose when to pitch their idea. Entrepreneurs tend to be the type that liked to show rather than tell. They’d rather show you the offer that they’ve packaged together and get your feedback on that then to just tell you about the idea that they have in theory.

Typically, entrepreneurs are more willing to share their ideas when they know that by doing so, it’ll get them closer to realizing their vision. For example, if I needed to raise XYZ dollars in order to get to my next stage of my idea development, then I would go ahead and pitch different investors because I know that securing their investment is going to get me closer to realizing this goal of mine of this business idea.

Personally, I love to talk about the things that I’m building, but only within the context when I know that the other end stands to benefit from me sharing about my idea than me just sharing my idea for the sake of sharing it.

Difference #3: Perceptions of impact.

Wantrepreneurs are typically the sorts of people that are primarily motivated by money and nothing else. In other words, they’re all about squeezing the maximum dollar that they can out of an idea rather than necessarily providing an actually good customer experience. Whether it’s giving a really phenomenal customer experience or delivering value to their customers, these are both marginal considerations for wantrepreneurs.

When you look at it from a info-product space, these are the sorts of people that are always promoting the latest get rich quick scheme. All of their content is focused around how you can make XYZ dollars and not actually around the impact that you might be having on another person or company. On the flip side of things for entrepreneurs, even if entrepreneurs do make a lot of money from their venture, this isn’t typically the primary driver behind why they  decided to take on this idea and building it out.

Typically speaking, entrepreneurs have a broader vision of something that they’ve realized is a market inefficiency that they want to solve, and they want to bring that solution to the world. Money to them is more of a vehicle to expanding their impact as opposed to an end goal.

A good example of this is Marc Benioff, who is the CEO of Salesforce. Since its founding, Salesforce has generated billions of dollars of value for companies as well as organizations, yet despite all of these profits, they’ve also committed to making a big impact from a societal level. In fact, they even have a 1-1-1 model within their company.

In other words, they allocate a percentage of product value, equity and employee hours to helping communities and programs around the world. So even though Marc Benioff is comfortably a billionaire, he’s had a huge impact as well from a social side of things, in terms of advocating for equal pay for women’s rights and LGBTQ rights.

Salesforce’s model has resulted in over $240 million being given and grants along with 3.5 million community service hours from their employees. They’ve also given away their product to 39,000 different organizations around the world to help them in managing their customer relationships. I want to hear from you.

Difference #4: Resiliency from setbacks.

Entrepreneurs are the sorts of people that will go ahead and try to call it five businesses to pitch their service, fail, and then give up the next day. In other words, they’re not actually willing to play the numbers game that is needed in order to get there first yes.

What they don’t realize is that each no is actually one step closer to getting their next yes when it comes to building up a customer base. These people are quick to call it quits and they will blame problems on external factors and not their own individual performance or decisions. On the flip side of things, entrepreneurs tend to be the types of people that take control of the situation and focus on what they can actually control versus external factors.

They’re more than willing to call up a hundred businesses before they get to their first yes because they simply know that sales is a numbers game and you have to refine your pitch over time and call the right customer in order to deliver some sort of value.

By only focusing on things that are within their internal locus of control, they’re able to continuously improve their processes within their organization and then continue to scale their idea. A good example of great resiliency from an entrepreneur is the CEO of Peloton, John Foley. Peloton was so scrappy and resilient in its earliest days, that there was a time when John Foley was actually the gender for the company.

He would go in and be cleaning the toilets. The CEO of the company would be doing that. And so it just goes to show you how far an organization can come when there’s resiliency behind the founding entrepreneur that started that organization. Even though Peloton today is valued at over $30 billion, it hasn’t come without its fair share of setbacks along the way.

For example, they’ve had to deal with their fair share of lawsuits from competitors and music publishers, and they also had their 2019 holiday ad debacle, which costs them $1.5 billion in company value. Each time though, the company has overcome their setbacks behind the leadership of John Foley and continue to build additional value in the marketplace.

If you want to learn why Peloton is so effective at its marketing, check out my recent article on that.

Difference #5: Problem solving skills.

Wantrepreneurs are typically the sorts of people that focus in first order thinking. In other words, when they are presented with a problem, they want to be just shown the way to solve that problem and then move on and go about their day. They don’t actually assess the overall landscape to understand how they might be able to avoid the problem altogether, or think about the problem in some other way than the most conventional way to solve it.

These people tend to think pretty conventionally because it was primarily the way they were taught in school to think. Deviation is typically not conducive to these people. These are the sorts of people that also often feel like going to business school is going to help them in learning how to start a business.

Well, actually many of the skills that you’ll learn in business school aren’t as relevant as you think they are when it comes to actually founding a company. I often find that wantpreneurs seek answers in the most obvious form, because this is what keeps them at peace. On the other side of things, entrepreneurs tend to think of things in the context of second order thinkin.

For example, in the context of the broader global situation, when that first started happening, and there was a huge demand for face mask, the first order entrepreneur might try to learn about different ways to sell face masks to people, but the true entrepreneur is thinking about the implications of that rise in demand in face mask. They might be the ones to recognize the massive opportunity in the marketplace with this rise in demand, for things like accessories for face masks.

For example, I found a company that creates portable containers for your face mask. That way, you know, for sure that it’s still sterile when you take it off your face, as opposed to cramming it into your pocket or your purse or something else. Compared to their wantrepreneur peers, entrepreneurs are typically way more experiential. They’re all about testing out an idea and seeing how the market responds to it.

Another good example is the origin stories of Airbnb. In those earliest days, when these shared economy was more or less non-existent, the founders of Airbnb had to find a way to scrap to get  their cash to keep their runway long enough that they could actually validate Airbnb as a business. To help combat their cash crunch problems, they created two different types of serial in alignment with the 2008 presidential election.

Obama O’s and Cap’n McCain’s gave them a ton of positive press exposure and also helped them find new customers for their actual business.

Big takeaways

There are two things I want you to remember from this article:

  1. The first one is that it’s totally okay if you are a wantrepreneur today. The important thing is that you recognize why you would categorize yourself as a wantrepreneur, as opposed to an entrepreneur, and start to orient yourself more around taking action behind your ideas. You also might want to think about what you’re really trying to solve. It’s often not just to make a lot of money. Sorry to break it to you.
  2. The reality is that whenever you try something new, you’re not going to be very good at it the very first time that you do it. But the important thing for you to take away is that you did it and that if you do it again and again and again, and constantly think about how you can improve yourself, you will eventually get better at it over time. Perseverance can go a long way. So as long as you focus on improving and learning along the way, the outcomes will naturally come with it over time.

If you found this article helpful, be sure to check out my YouTube channel to get new videos every single week. I’ll help take you from zero to self-starter as you grow your business, get more customers, and hone your business acumen. Also, feel free to share this with anybody that you think might also benefit from learning about these key differences between an entrepreneur and a wantrepreneur.