Anyone in business is familiar with the glory that accompanies building successful companies. However, you also know how much work goes into getting to that point, something someone on the outside might not comprehend.
Not a day goes by without me meeting someone who wants to "build the next Facebook" or who "has the next big idea", but only a very small fraction of those people will actually execute and achieve success of any kind. The rest of them are all talk.
Here are five sentences that give me a clear indication that the person I am speaking to is not a real entrepreneur and might not have it in them to actually follow through on their idea.
1. "I have the next big idea that is going to kill Facebook."
Listen, I don't know how to tell you this, but the chances of your idea killing Facebook, or even becoming an actual product, are close to zero. I am not being harsh here, I am talking statistics.
Right now, you have an idea. There are thousands of things you have to do before you build a successful business-- from competitive analysis, raising capital, going to market, figuring out a business model, and so much more.
Add to the equation that a vast majority of startups fail and what you have is something that is statistically close to impossible. If you have not done it before, meaning, you have no track record, the chances of failure just increased even more.
So if you are at the idea stage and are confident enough to say you are going to kill Facebook or Google, you clearly have no idea what is ahead of you. Meaning, chances are, you are not a real entrepreneur.
2. "I have no competitors."
I have spoken about this countless times, but I will say it again: if you think you have no competition, there are really three options at play.
Option one is you have no idea what a competitor is. You might think it is a company doing the exact same thing as you. You would be wrong. You competitor is a company targeting the same audience as you with a similar value proposition.
Option two is you did not do any market analysis, which means you are pretty much guaranteed to fail.
Finally, option three is you really have no competition, which generally means there is no demand, no market.
In all three cases, you are not going to be an entrepreneur today. Sorry.
3. "If you build it, they will come."
Yeah, this one is particularly ridiculous. It's the famous Field of Dreams quote that has exactly nothing to do with business and marketing. Here is my new quote for you. "If you build it, unless it is outstanding, absolutely no one will come."
The biggest misconception I have heard from people who want to become entrepreneurs is that their idea, their eventual product is so good, people will just come running. The truth is, however, that there is a lot of noise out there and your product can be the most amazing thing ever, but if no one hears about it, no one is using it.
4. "We are going to go viral."
I am about to make a blanket statement that has almost no exceptions: no human being can guarantee that something will go viral. There are endless components to something going viral, and there are also many mysteries. If someone says that they will go viral, all they are saying to me is that they have no idea what they're talking about.
"Going viral" is not a marketing plan or a business plan so when someone says that, all my red lights go off.
5. "Please like my Facebook page and tweet out my content for me."
What does this one have to do with entrepreneurship? A lot. If someone asks me to promote them, this tells me that this is an individual who looks for shortcuts. Instead of spending time producing good content, which would give me a reason to like their Facebook page, they are cutting corners and trying to hitch a ride on my audience. The worst trait any entrepreneur can possess is laziness.
If you are lazy and you try to cut corners, achieve short term wins-- which won't sustain themselves long term-- you are not an entrepreneur.
As I have said before, being a successful entrepreneur is as close to impossible as it gets and it is also slightly crazy to even try, based on the numbers, but when you see an entrepreneur, you just know. Alternatively, when you see someone pretending to be an entrepreneur, you also know, and these sentences are a good indication that you are not dealing with the real thing.