I was watching Shark Tank last night and someone with a very cool-looking product started his pitch to the sharks. At first, it sounded good. A great, high-end product, a lot of research, and a very pretty video were all presented.
But then the questions started… the inevitable questions about money. “How will we get our investment back?” “How much of your own money have you invested to date?” And the other questions about his business, “How many have you sold?” “How long have you been at this?”
What was interesting was the lack of answers the guy had to give. Not only could he give no numbers, because all he had was a prototype, so zero actual sales of the product, but he also said he’d been working on it for 10 years, had invested about $130,000 of his own money into it, and had a failed Kickstarter campaign, which he quickly blamed on Kickstarter’s rules. It was obvious the guy was full of great ideas and zero business sense. He was a master at redirecting the questions and hiding real answers.
But the sharks are experts and they saw right through his shenanigans.
At one point, Mark Cuban said, “You’re not an entrepreneur, you’re a wantrepreneur. Know that and own who you are.” The guy took a huge offense at Mark, but Mark didn’t mean it in a condescending way. Mark and the other sharks know there are two types of people who try their hands at business: idea people and action people. Idea people constantly come up with great ideas and grand plans, and need to partner with action people to bring their ideas into fruition. Action people come up with ideas, too, and when they do they immediately implement them, quickly see results, and rinse and repeat what works. Often action people come up with less ideas than idea people, but their ideas actually see the light of day.
The bottom line is idea people are wantrepreneurs. They want all the success they “see” entrepreneurs enjoy. They want the massive book sales, the promotions to go without a hitch, the business empire their competitors have around their books and other products. But when it comes time to sit down and actually DO the work themselves (beyond the writing), to push through the tech issues when a promotion flops, to think strategically about their books as a business rather than just “I like to write,” that’s when they halt. That’s when they get stuck. And that’s why a book project they started 15 years ago still isn’t completed yet.
If you’re a wantrepreneur, is that a horrible thing?
No! The fact is, we need idea people. Action takers don’t always act on their own ideas, often they run with the ideas of others. The fact that Mark was trying to make was, if you find yourself feeling like a wantrepreneur, you’re not a failure, you just need to find another way to get your ideas to market.
And the guy on Shark Tank totally missed the boat. In the mini interview afterward, he was all flustered and angrily said, “I can’t believe them. They don’t understand the product or my mission. All they cared about was the money.”
The danger of being a wantrepreneur is being so attached to your own ideas that you won’t accept advice from others who have proven they know what they’re talking about. It’s in being so focused on your own desires for your story, that you ignore the advice of your editor, your coach, etc. And attachment always brings failure… Every. Single. Time.
So what’s a wantrepreneur to do?
The best way to be successful is to turn your want into “ent…” to become a full-fledged, driven, passionate entrepreneur. To want it bad enough that you do what it takes to learn the skills necessary to turn your want into action. The want is great – you need to want what you’re doing in order to have the passion and drive to get through inevitable difficulties and road blocks. And when you combine that with the ACTION – the primary characteristic of an entrepreneur – you’ll see a significant difference in your growth, your book sales, the reach of your message, and ultimately, your bank account!
What do you think about what Mark said? Which stage are you in? Are you actively transitioning from wantrepreneur to entrepreneur? (Or as I like to call it, authorpreneur.) What steps are you taking to do so? Share in the comments below!
And if you’re ready to turn your “want” into “ent,” schedule your one-on-one “On Demand” laser coaching session today at KristenOnDemand.com and get the help you and your book deserve!
bonni goldbergMay 5, 2016
Great point, Kristen. I can relate to the want. Reading your post, I realize that some sort of perfectionist tendency keeps me from trying out my ideas– I get paralyzed by the need to “do it right,” the fear that I’ll put out an imperfect product/book and “waste money” in the process. Maybe another key difference between an “ent” and a “want” is that that ents are willing to try and fail/learn as part of the process of succeeding, while us wants keep holding back until we can get it “right” and then never put out a thing?
Kristen JoyMay 5, 2016 bonni goldberg
Thanks for your comment! Perfectionism (a cover-up for plain old fear) is definitely partly to blame for wantrepreneurs who don’t take action. Many times they may even feel that someone else can’t do it better than them, or if they trust someone else they’ll end up getting hurt. And yes, there’s a risk in taking any sort of action at all, even crossing the street to check the mail. Risk is something entrepreneurs have to get used to if they want to see results. 🙂
JacqueMay 4, 2016
I don’t watch TV either so have only seen The Shark Tank once or twice but I understand the concept, the panel give good information. This little gem makes so much sense to me. I am an ideas person but I have learned to follow my want and change it to DO. However, I am not very comfortable with self promotion and that is where I fall down. Even with my successful Kickstarter campaign I felt guilt, this is my next learning curve, to get over my … what ever it is called.
David FordMay 4, 2016
Hi Kristen – interesting post! I’m not fond of Shark Tank (or Dragon’s Den – as we call it in the UK). I can’t help thinking the producer chose those kind of people deliberately – and I feel very sorry for them. As you say we’re all a little bit that way and for some of us it’s hard to do the business thing with our baby.
MargiMay 4, 2016
Nice idea, to shake out the different strands of the creative process and show what each type needs in order to reap the full harvest. Maybe that’s what we do subconsciously when we seek out our spouses and partners – recognise the complement we so crave so that together we can meld into a complete heart? Where am I with my ideas? I am more of the ideas person, struggling to bring projects to fruition, gradually learning to outsource.
Virginia ReevesMay 4, 2016
It always surprises me on Shark Tank when the folks come in non-prepared for the money questions. It’s like – do you not watch the show? They just want the money with no accountability apparently. Some of us are better at ideas than at business and as you note – that’s great. Find someone to fill in where you need to be strengthened. I’m publishing now but choosing not to push it as a business. It’s not always about that – for me it’s validating who I wanted to be.
Sharon WrenMay 4, 2016
This is where I am right now. I have the ideas and motivation, I just need guidance!
Kristen JoyMay 4, 2016 Sharon Wren
Thanks for the comment. Are you working with a coach right now? I’ve found working one-on-one with a coach is the best way to get guidance… and that’s what I credit for all my growth over the last several years. I’ve always (and continue to) had at least one coach. 🙂