Entrepreneur vs. Wantrepreneur: How to Go From Business Dreamer to Business Owner

Entrepreneur vs. Wantrepreneur: How to Go From Business Dreamer to Business Owner

Movies like "The Social Network," "The Wolf of Wallstreet," and "The Founder" all have one thing in common. They're stories of young go-getters who ditched traditional careers to start their own thriving businesses. They also cement a myth that's pretty pervasive in the business world — all it really takes to be an entrepreneur is a great idea, determination, and a bit of good luck to build your empire and rake in the profits.  

If only it was that simple. The reality is that ideas are easy, but it's a lot harder to turn that around into a truly sustainable and successful business. That's why, in the world of entrepreneurship, you'll often come across two different types of people — the people who always want to launch a business and the people who actually do it.

What Is a Wantrepreneur?

A wantrepreneur is someone who dreams of being an entrepreneur, but they just never get around to it. Wantrepreneurs are often "idea people," and they're intrigued by the thought of doing something new and innovative on their own.

The problem is that ideas are cheap. You've probably had five great business ideas this week. And if you can make money from it, you can be sure that many other people are probably thinking along the same lines right now, independently of you. If you spend too much time dreaming and not enough time doing, your idea will never become reality. Or you might just see someone more action-oriented implement that idea and achieve your dream.    

That's not to knock the dreamers. Without a doubt, the most successful entrepreneurs dream big. Wantrepreneurs just seem to have trouble converting those dreams into reality.

Fortunately, you can overcome these hurdles and be the business boss of your dreams. You just need to know what patterns to avoid. Learn these wantrepreneur warning signs, and you can upgrade from a business dreamer to a business doer.

Waiting for the Perfect Timing

Maybe you're going through some personal problems that you're hoping will settle down. Maybe you're waiting for the economy to pick up its pace. Or maybe you're holding out for a sign to finally put in your resignation at your 9-to-5 job.

Whatever the situation, wantrepreneurs are always waiting for the right conditions to pull the trigger on their business idea and put it into motion. But here's an entrepreneurial secret — the right conditions never happen. If you wait around, that awesome new business idea will remain at the concept stage forever. Or worse, someone else will have the same idea and capitalize on it first.

Being Afraid to Take Risks

Entrepreneurship is inherently risky. Sometimes those risks pay off. Other times, they can turn into failures despite every precaution. Successful entrepreneurs recognize that risk is both necessary and an opportunity to learn. Wantrepreneurs focus on negative outcomes and avoid taking risks altogether.

Focusing (Too Much) on the Money

Being an entrepreneur is no guarantee that you'll make money quickly. It requires a lot of blood, sweat, and tears to get your business off the ground — and even more hard work to see your first signs of profit. Even when you get things rolling, very few business owners become the next Elon Musk or Jeff Bezos.  

Every small business owner thinks about money, but entrepreneurs realize that there are other ways to define small business success. A person more focused on making a quick buck than putting in the effort will often hit the brakes the moment the road starts to get rough.

Being Inflexible

No matter what industry you're looking at, the business landscape is constantly changing and evolving. While entrepreneurs are quick to adapt and pivot to keep up with changing demands and expectations, wantrepreneurs tend to be more rigid. If their original idea doesn't make sense in their market anymore, they'll leave it behind altogether instead of finding ways to innovate.

Over-Worrying About Funding

The old adage is true — you need money to make money. And it's rare for a first-time business owner to have the necessary funds to get their business idea off the ground just sitting in their pocket.

Wantrepreneurs are often discouraged by the idea of not having the right amount of funds to pump into their business venture, which usually halts their progress altogether. Meanwhile, entrepreneurs don't let their lack of funds stop them — and they'll do whatever it takes to secure the capital they need to build their dream business.

What Makes an Entrepreneur?

There's a difference between business dreamers and true entrepreneurship — dreamers come up with ideas, while entrepreneurs actually put in the hard work to build something meaningful. That's one of the biggest distinctions when comparing wantrepreneurs to entrepreneurs, but it isn't the only thing.

You already know what defines wantrepreneurs, but what does it take to become an actual small business owner? Here are a few key characteristics that all entrepreneurs share.

Entrepreneurs Are Prepared to Make Sacrifices

Nobody said entrepreneurship was easy, and successful business owners get that. Most entrepreneurs work at least 60 hours per week. In the early stages of building their business, entrepreneurs are prepared to dedicate almost all of their time, energy, and resources to getting it off the ground. For many, this means forgoing social events and personal time to instead put in the work and stay focused on turning their idea into a reality.

Entrepreneurs also recognize that while the beginning stages are challenging, it's also short-term, meaning those sacrifices are, too. By making those tough decisions in the beginning, they're setting themselves up to later hire employees and support down the road, making it easier to share the workload, grow the business, and regain balance.

Entrepreneurs Don't Believe "If I Build It, They Will Come"

One of the single biggest mistakes wantrepreneurs make is believing that the moment they open the doors to their business, people will immediately flock to it, and the money will start rolling in — as simple as that. Entrepreneurs know that launching a business comes long after careful planning, research, and strategizing.

Entrepreneurs take the time to learn about their target audience and competitors. They're tweaking and refining their idea to make sure it truly fulfills an unmet need. And they're working hard to make sure all of this data is being put together to create a true value proposition.

Entrepreneurs Chase Success (Instead of Waiting For It)

You already know that wantrepreneurs rely on the ideal conditions to start turning their ideas into a business. Entrepreneurs get proactive and make the positive changes they need to achieve their goals.

Is the town you're looking to open a business in lacking the right target audience? While a wantrepreneur waits for a shift to happen, an entrepreneur would research nearby communities to find a better fit. In other words, entrepreneurs don't just stick with the cards they're dealt. They don't stop until they accomplish their goals.

Entrepreneurs Are OK With Failure

Nobody likes to fail, but you can't let it stop you from trying. Fear of failure can discourage wantrepreneurs from moving forward, but entrepreneurs see failure as a stepping stone. Instead of considering failure as a total loss, entrepreneurs use their hardships as a valuable resource. They learn from it and use the experience as fuel to work harder and smarter to achieve what they believe in.

Entrepreneurs Get Things Done

Entrepreneurs aren't afraid to put it all on the line to build their business. Maybe they quit their job to focus all of their time and energy on their dreams. Or maybe they're eyeing a part of town that they just know is on the cusp of exploding, but others stay away from. Whatever decisions entrepreneurs make, they're made because they have a genuine passion for growing their business, and they'll explore every and all avenues available to make it happen.

How to Be an Entrepreneur

Everyone has ideas. But when it comes to turning them into a real business, things start to get a lot harder. Having a true entrepreneurial mindset means you're relentless in your pursuit to become a small business owner, no matter what obstacles and challenges life throws your way.

If you've decided to start your own business, do your research, set business goals, take risks, and get ready for some hard work. Ultimately, actions separate the dreamers from the doers.

Entrepreneurs are doers, but that doesn't mean you have to do everything on your own. To help you get started, the experts at Swyft Filings put together this ultimate guide on business formation, including tips on choosing the right entity in your state, what you need before you file, and critical steps to help your business take off and succeed.

Originally published on October 21, 2022, and last edited on January 18, 2023.

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