Friday, May 19, 2017

These 3 Questions WILL Unmask "Wantrepreneurs"

I see “Wantrepreneurs.” Everywhere. They walk among us virtually unnoticed every day, patiently stalking their prey, waiting for the perfect opportunity to strike. When they finally latch onto the target successfully, they drain their victims of the two most valuable resources they possess. It’s not their money, by the way.

It’s TIME and ENERGY, the very lifeblood of true entrepreneurs and corporate business professionals.

For the record, I’m not referring to entrepreneurs who have tried and failed. That describes virtually all of us. Nor am I referring to those who dream, but never do. Those that I refer to as “wantrepreneurs” are a cunning group of opportunists who wear a wide variety of masks to conceal their true identity.

Despite their cunning and altered outward appearance, 3 simple questions can render them as harmless as sheep and drive them away from you forever.

You probably see “wantrepreneurs” every day as well, especially within business networks such as LinkedIn. They are the self-described “rainmakers” who claim remarkable accomplishments in the past. They boast an extensive list of exclusive C-suite contacts, and won’t hesitate to drop names to prove their point.

They have amazing visions of million-dollar companies that can be built virtually overnight, should you happen to be lucky enough to be included in their plans. Sound familiar? The next time a “wantrepreneur” sets you in their sights for the deal of the century, ask the following 3 questions.

1. What’s your (verifiable) area of Subject Matter Expertise?
Successful people tend to be very good at something; hence, their success. If you’re proficient with words, you tend to write. If you’re gifted with language ability, you tend to speak. If (like me) you really bombed calculus in college, chances are that engineering and astrophysics aren’t viable career options. No worries – we can’t all be good at everything.

The only expertise “wantrepreneurs” really possess is finding successful people who are actually SME’s. That’s it. If their answer to this question is, “I was a trusted confidant, personal coach and motivational visionary for the Fortune 100 C-Suite,” run away.

2. What value do you intend to bring to this concept and company?
Most successful companies start with a team whose value is greater than the sum of the individual parts. That makes perfect sense. I rely on the skills and talents of professionals around me to make my company successful. Conversely, those same professionals rely on my expertise as well to contribute to the success of our combined efforts.

The only value “wantrepreneurs” bring to the team is bringing together the team itself. That’s it. They know 10 law enforcement professionals with elite military backgrounds and, if only they could be brought together, all those involved could make millions. Once the company is formed the “wantrepreneur” has no actual value to contribute. They spend 100% of their time justifying and protecting their position, which benefits no one but them.

3. Who are your investors and/or funding sources?
Everyone knows money is difficult to find, resources are scarce and credit is tight. If you’re a legitimate entrepreneur with a great idea – who hasn’t found a funding source – I won’t fault you. That said, produce a stack of rejected loan or grant applications and at least show me you tried. I’ll respect you for your effort and honesty. I may respect you and your idea so much that I fund your project.

The only funding source a “wantrepreneur” has in mind is your checkbook. That’s it. They don’t understand that ideation without execution has no value. It’s easier for them to spend the time tapping your emotions, probing for weaknesses, than it is to fill out a loan application that has no chance of being approved anyway.

Can you hear that sound? That’s your lifeblood – your TIME and ENERGY – being sucked from your existence. Stop the assault by demanding a stack of rejected applications from other funding sources. The only sound you’ll hear at that point is silence in their absence.

On a final note, an effective way to tear off the mask of a potential “wantrepreneur” is to notice the tense of their dialogue. Entrepreneurs tend to speak of their future plans, while “wantrapreneurs” make dubious claims of their accomplishments in the past. Everything they say and do is past-tense.

2017 is going to be a great year for entrepreneurs and corporate business professionals alike. If you’re able to identify these “wantrepreneurs” and you’re willing to tear off their masks, I predict your prosperous 2017 will get even better.


Michael I. Kaplan is a professional speaker, bestselling author and instructor.  You're invited to connect with Michael on LinkedInTwitter, and Facebook.  Or, contact Michael by email.

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