For many years I felt that if you scratched any American you were scratching an entrepreneur. This is the country where entrepreneurial activity is most possible and seemingly every citizen has an idea with commercial potential. Sadly, over time, I realized I was wrong. If you scratch most Americans you are most likely scratching a dreamer.
The difference between a dreamer and a doer is profound. Successful entrepreneurs might have initially dreamt of success, but they will not stop there. The drive to accomplish necessary tasks to insure successful outcomes separates them from the dreamy class, which includes most people. Success is a goal that requires drive, determination, courage, fearlessness, planning, discipline, sacrifice and passion. It is not easy, or everyone would be successful.
What makes one opportunity succeed while another, even more promising idea, fails? It always comes down to the individual and their makeup. A few no’s and the dreamer folds their tent. The successful entrepreneur recognizes no as a hurdle, not a deal closer. The opportunity to overcome the objection represented by the word no is an absolute necessity for any individual seeking success as an entrepreneur.
Dreamers take shortcuts. Dreamers make guesses. Dreamers defer tedious research. Dreamers hope somebody else will do the work for them. Dreamers cannot succeed. And, most unfortunately, many perfectly wonderful commercial opportunities are lost because of this dreamscape approach.
Successful entrepreneurs are always doers! They overcome the often seemingly endless obstacles placed in their path. The road to success is a curvy one, very seldom taking a linear approach. Doers find a way to answer each obstacle and move ahead in the process. Doers do not fear criticism, but see this as an opportunity to improve their business model. Doers are realists, no fantasy allowed.
Most importantly, doers are positive realists. Most dreamers are negative. Dreamers see hurdles as absolute barriers. Doers find a way, trying any legal, available strategy to achieve success.
Why do most people work at jobs they really do not enjoy? They need income of course. Most of us have some level of a work ethic. However, the work itself is often not rewarding. Many employees feel underpaid, undervalued, under-challenged. They want to do more, be more valuable and contribute more. But it usually does not happen. They are stuck and will stay so, usually. Often, they dream of the one big idea for a get rich quick widget that will change the course of their empty life. But it is just a dream.
Many entrepreneurs I have worked with came from dead end jobs. However, they possessed the drive and desire to change the course of their lives for the better. Their widget was a vehicle for a great change and lifestyle adjustment. The opportunity presented by modern American capitalism is available for any entrepreneur to seize by the throat and hold on for an amazing ride.
I look at hundreds of commercial presentations every year. Less than one per cent will ever make it to market. And yet, about 30% of the submissions we review have some level of commercial potential, sometimes exceedingly high potential. It is sad to see so many dreamers lacking the cocktail of traits and qualities necessary for successful outcomes. This is a great loss for the dreamer, our economy and society at large, as many of these ideas have real merit and utility.
After many years of teaching, coaching and consulting with would-be entrepreneurs, I can instinctively judge the potentially successful person. There is always an air of passion about the opportunity, knowledge of the competition, belief in the product and themselves. This is obvious whether the initial meeting is in person, by phone or e-mail.
The dreamer invariably comes across as a tire kicker. Hoping, unsure, cloying in a manner that underlines the shortcuts they have taken in approaching an exceedingly competitive commercial market. “Let’s make a million dollars together”, is an entrée we often receive. Another losing approach, “I don’t know costs (or competition, or target demographic, etc.) I just know we will make millions on this, my Aunt Hattie loves it”. There are many more similar vacuous introductions accompanying otherwise interesting submissions. The predictable result is that opportunity is immediately torpedoed.
Doers have an air of strength. They do not kick tires, but appear ready to repair the whole car. They have answers to most questions and are open to coaching. They are realists and flexible. Dreamers often state they will sell their project for a million dollars. Doers recognize that a good deal is a deal where every party is fairly compensated. Doers will do everything within reason to make a deal happen.
It is a shame that success as an entrepreneur cannot be taught or bought. It can’t! Personal make-up, energy, positive attitude and drive have no retail price. People are either achievement driven or they are content to be average, or less. Entrepreneurs have the essential elements necessary for success hard wired into their being. Why is unknown, I just know it when I see it.
Many inventors recognize that they are creative, not entrepreneurial. They possess the ability to create, design, or invent, but not the ability to project their inventions into the commercial marketplace. These creators are smart to seek and professional assistance in securing placement or sale of their work. As Dirty Harry said, “A man has to know his limitations”. Not everyone can be a successful entrepreneur, but there are alternative ways to approach the market. This approach is practical for many creative people.
Dreamers unfortunately are doomed to fail. They will waste time, make mistakes, lose money and ultimately implode psychologically when the inevitable failure is at hand.
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