About a month ago, I had a quick telephone call with a prospective marketing student. On the other end of the line stood a sharp entrepreneur asking me some tough questions about our training program. After a few minutes, she asked me one of the best questions I’d ever received. “Matt, what are the character traits of the entrepreneurs who don’t succeed?” The question really got me thinking. Frankly, I can’t remember what I told her, but the question stayed with me. Last week, I took out a pad of paper and thought of about seven marketing clients who were terrible business owners. I added several more of my student quitters to this list. I then realized that almost all of them fit into one of three categories. In today’s post, I’ll share these three personalities and why some people will never be successful in business.
The ADHD Entrepreneur
Say hello to the entrepreneurs with attention deficit disorder. I’m talking about people who are in business but don’t sit still long enough to understand how anything works. To these folks, there’s always a better idea out there to be had. If they are one of my marketing clients, they want to try 25 different ideas at once without giving a concept long enough to even be tested. If they are a marketing student, they’ll try 25 new ideas before exploring a proven system. They aren’t just starting a marketing business either. No, they have three other ventures going on at once. These people are always busy, but never productive. They are always searching, but never finding. They’re like a little spinning top bouncing into everything.
It might sound entrepreneurial to try a bunch of new ideas. After all, aren’t entrepreneurs risk takers? While I believe in taking risks and trying out new ideas, that isn’t the problem with these business owners. No, their problem is lack of focus! You see, though they own a business and might even work in it a little, the majority of their time is invested in being busy without actually doing work that makes a difference. Unfortunately, with the ADHD entrepreneur, they never finish what they start. There’s a thousand things going on at once, but nothing is ever finished.
The Big Boss Entrepreneur
I truly love reading stories and watching movies about good leaders and entrepreneurs who made a difference in the world. So what I’m about to share might seem like an oxymoron. The second group of entrepreneurs who often fail are the big boss entrepreneurs. These people love to own businesses, but the problem is, they don’t really like to work. Because of their wealth, their idea of business ownership is to buy a company. Thus, they are entrepreneurs because they own the title to the property.
While there’s nothing wrong with buying a business, the disconnect happens when someone buys a business without considering the work or knowledge that will be required for the transition. Remember, the big boss doesn’t like to do the work himself. That means he’ll have to delegate the work to someone else. While this isn’t a big deal if you’re mowing lawns, it does get more tricky when the business model is more complex. The truth is, when someone buys a business they shouldn’t expect to be an absentee owner until the business reaches maturity. Sometimes that takes years and the big boss entrepreneur isn’t willing to wait that long. He’s impatient. He doesn’t want to invest his time in the business and thus he gives up before realizing a profit.
The Un-Entrepreneurial Entrepreneur
Lastly, we have the un-entrepreneurial entrepreneurs. These people are very smart, but very afraid. They love the idea of owning a business, but can’t stomach any risk whatsoever. Because of their fear of loss, they spend all of their time researching every little decision to ensure they do everything perfectly. Because of their research, they tend to know more than most people. Still, the un-entrepreneurial entrepreneur is unfruitful. Because of their cynicism and perfectionism, it’s extremely difficult to get this jumbo jet off the runway. No business is good enough. Opportunities pass these people by every day. When advice is shared, they reject it immediately. After all, they know everything about the subject because of their countless hours of research.
The problem with the un-entrepreneur isn’t their knowledge. No, these folks are ultra bright. The reason they fail is because of their pride and fear of failure. It is their fear of looking bad or making a poor decision. It is paralysis of analysis. They self sabotage their own adventure before it even starts because of their fear.
The Authentic Entrepreneur
So who wins in business? Surely not the hyperactive bossy perfectionist right? Not so fast… If you’ve been relating to any of these three types of entrepreneurs, don’t feel bad. Here’s why. Most entrepreneurs have a little ADHD. We bounce around from one thing to another. Curious about me? Yep, I’m as ADHD as they come! I’m not just saying that either. I was diagnosed by 3 doctors and even take Vyvanse to help me stay focused. What about being bossy and leadership driven? Indeed! Most entrepreneurs are strong and like the idea of others working for them. I’m no exception to this rule either. Surely I’m not fearful am I? Guilty as charged. There’s not a day that passes that I’m not carrying a burden for one of my clients’ businesses or students. If I’m honest with myself, my personality leans towards all three of these categories.
You see, the authentic entrepreneur faces the same issues as the people who fail. He struggles with being compulsive and staying focused. He’s impatient and gets bent out of shape when people don’t deliver. Furthermore he’s continually afraid of failure and looking bad to his family, friends, and staff members. So what separates this entrepreneur from all the failures and phonies? Authenticity! He knows his weaknesses. He is honest with himself and knows he’ll have to overcome his own issues to win.
He starts off by telling the guy in the mirror “get focused” as he slaps himself across the face. Game time! He reminds himself of why he’s doing this and why being focused is critical. Instead of being absentee and lazy, he dives into his business as a student to learn and master the craft. He’s humble! He pursues knowledge and empowers others to help him. He leads by serving his staff and is willing to do anything so he can grow and learn. Though afraid of failure, he moves forward through his fears. Like Napoleon the great conquerer, he’s burned the boats and there’s no going back. He’s all in, hell or high water, he’ll fight until the death. He is committed to the cause and though shaking on the inside, he continues on the path.
So are you authentic? Your success in business has very little to do with your education, ability, or wealth. However, your success has everything to do with your resolve. Yes, there will be long hours, set-backs, and distractions along the way. Expect it! Count on it! What matters is your resolve to get better and be better! My prayer for my life and those I influence is that we’ll continue to model authentic entrepreneurship.