Wantrepreneur to Entrepreneur in Four Simple Steps

by Guest Author on March 13, 2014

somedayTimothy Ferriss once said, “‘Someday’ is a disease that will take your dreams to the grave with you”, and that phrase couldn’t ring truer when it comes to entrepreneurship. That dreaded “Someday Disease” is all too often what separates entrepreneurs from wantrepreneurs – those who never lack for great ideas, but who struggle to take that leap and turn those ideas into true businesses.

The good news for wantrepreneurs is that the opportunity to drop the W and shift your thinking from “someday” to “today” will always be there. If you think you’re ready to take that leap — to stop talking and start doing — ask yourself two important questions:

  1. Do I have a solid, concrete idea and execution plan
  2. Am I currently taking, or ready to take, significant personal resource risks to execute?

If you answered yes, then congratulations — you’re on your way to dropping the W! But, brace yourself because taking your business from idea to reality is where the hard work really begins. And while an estimated 90% of startups ultimately fail, these four steps will help make the transition from wantrepreneur to entrepreneur slightly less scary and set you up for long-term success.

Step one: have an honest Q&A session with yourself

Now that you’ve decided your idea is something people may actually want, it’s time to answer some more concrete questions. Tackling questions like these will help ensure that your business idea has long-term viability, and will provide the basis for building your full business plan. 

  • Is there a market? Is the market growing or shrinking?
  • Is there a clear path to revenue and profitability?
  • Are the costs to start justified by the likely outcome?
  • Can the concept be tested before substantial costs are produced?

Perhaps the most important question to answer when tackling step one  is, “Am I really, truly passionate about pursuing this?” The road to success is not an easy one, but feeling a true passion for the work will help you push through the challenges and keep you focused on your end goal.

Step two: organize and prioritize

Time to get your proverbial ducks in a row. I can’t stress the need for organization and prioritization enough. It’s key for both eliminating accidental oversight of the many important elements in starting a business, and avoiding the burnout that’s inevitable if you fall into a pattern of saying “yes” to everything — something that’s easy to do when your business is new.

So, where to start? There are three key elements to focus on initially:

  • Funding: you need a plan for not just securing initial funding, but a plan (and the resources) to then get to the next point of funding or profitability
  • Personnel: Identify what you do well (and what you most enjoy doing), and put time and effort into assembling a teamto fill gaps and maximize chances of success. The phrase “hire slowly, fire fast” is one you will hear time and again, and for good reason, as the people on your team can really make or break your business.
  • Sales: develop both solid testing and marketing strategies to drive customers and transactions – in a scalable way

Step three: get in touch with reality

Successful entrepreneurs have become their own form of celebrity, but it’s important to recognize that the only entrepreneurial stories you typically read are those that result in unprecedented success. While illustrious and a growingly popular career path, entrepreneurialism comes with some seriously hard truths. While you’re getting the ball rolling, it’s important to remind yourself that the likelihood of success is, sadly, low, and that the process of trying to succeed will be very, very challenging. While exciting, the bottom line is that it will be 80% work and 20% fun, and that’s on a good day.

Step four: understand that you don’t know it all

When I started BuildASign.com, I had no experience with quality print products, the printing industry, or anything a person who wanted to start a company in the printing industry would typically have. But, I knew business, and I knew the importance of mentorship. It’s not impossible to start a business in a world you’re not well-versed in, but it is impossible to do so if you don’t surround yourself with team members and mentors who have expert knowledge in the areas you lack familiarity with. Recognizing your knowledge gaps is not a sign of weakness; filling those gaps is a sign of leadership.

Tackling these four key steps will help set you on the (long and unpaved) road to success. As your company grows, recognizing that your team comes first, followed by mentors, advisers and networking (notice YOU aren’t on this list?) will keep you on that road.

So, what are you waiting for?

About the Author

Dan Graham is a serial entrepreneur, bootstrap connoisseur, culture king, philanthropist and CEO of BuildASign.com. Connect with him on LinkedIn, or on Twitter at @maharg.

Join our newsletter and get everything Unpluggd!