I'm sure at some point you've run into that person who just talks a big game, but never delivers. It could your friend with the "Million-Dollar- Business-Idea" or the colleague who claims they have the secret to making your business a success. Even though they have dubbed themselves "entrepreneurs," they're actually wannabes.
In a way, you can't blame them.
"I think we're living through the greatest period of fake entrepreneurship that we've ever seen because it's very trendy right now," said Gary Vaynerchuk. And, he's absolutely right. You no longer have to have connections in Silicon Valley. You can be an aspiring entrepreneur in a small town in Iowa, but as long as you're online, you have all the resources you'll ever need to get your business launched.
On the other hand, because it's never been easier to start a business. People who aren't cut out to be entrepreneurs are now duping investors, employees, and customers. If you don't think that that's a big deal, then just ask the people who supported and believed in Theranos. By the way, I'm not saying that all fake entrepreneurs are nefarious. My point is that since they don't possess entrepreneurial traits, then they may be doing more damage than good - even if they're not aware of their actions.
The good news is that you can spot fake entrepreneurs from the get-go so that you won't get deceived by them.
1. They're a glorified freelancer or solopreneur.
Not every self-employed individual is an entrepreneur. Unlike entrepreneurs, freelancers are creative individuals who provide services for others and are paid for their time. While they may set their own schedules and are extremely talented, they still answer to their clients.
Entrepreneurs, however, are creating a product. They build systems so that eventually they aren't always directly involved with the business.
Think of it this way. If a freelancer stopped writing, coding, bookkeeping, their business will fold. If an entrepreneur went away for a week, their business will still be operational.
2. They don't follow the unspoken rules of business.
I wish when I started my own business that I was handed a book of rules to follow that could have guided me during the tougher times. But, that's just not the case, and it isn't the case for most authentic entrepreneurs.
There are, however, some unspoken rules that true entrepreneurs are aware of. For example, they never name drop when in social settings. It's obnoxious and is a cheap way in trying to prove that you're more connected that you really are.
3. They aren't using their true talents.
I'm a big fan of Elon Musk. Who isn't? The dude is pretty much Tony Stark IRL. The thing is, I don't have the talents that he possesses.
Even though he's made a ton of money, I'm not going to start companies that are green, for instance. That's not where my talents or passion lie. But, that's what fake entrepreneurs do. Instead of using their true talents, they'll emulate someone else just because they're successful.
4. They have no experience in business, only industry experience.
Let's say that you're a bartender. You're great at what you and have knowledge to make hundreds of different drinks. Does that mean that you can start and run your own bar? Are you familiar with bookkeeping, marketing, and dealing directly with vendors?
Entrepreneurs not only have industry experience or knowledge, they also have the experience in successfully building and managing a business from scratch.
5. They're flashy.
Remember Clinkle? I do. Because I was extremely skeptical of the mysterious mobile payment app. The reason? Founder Lucas Duplan and his over-extravagant lifestyle, like posting pictures of him with wads of cash and moving into a penthouse in San Francisco.
Real entrepreneurs aren't flashy like that. They're too busy building the best product available, hiring and retaining their all-star team, meeting with investors and distributors, talking to their customers, and increasing their own knowledge.
6. They believe that they need things and money to start.
Entrepreneurs can get their business started with the resources that they already have. Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak started Apple in a garage. Craig Newmark started Craigslists as an email distribution list to friends. Daymond John sold hats that he sewed himself in front of the New York Coliseum.
These entrepreneurs bootstrapped their way to success. They didn't let a lack of capital or equipment hold them back from at least getting started.
7. They can't focus.
Fake entrepreneurs are known for bouncing from idea to idea. As a result, none of these ideas come to fruition. Entrepreneurs, however, get an idea and stick with it. Even if that original startup idea fails and they have to pivot, they're only focused on one idea at a time.
8. They respect fear.
Should you completely ignore your fears? No. But, you should be aware of them. They may help you make more informed decisions.
Should you respect your fears? No. Respecting your fears won't help you move forward. In fact, it will hold you back since you'll be too afraid to make any decisions. Determine exactly what is bothering you, and take action to alleviate the feeling. Usually, taking an action fixes fear.
Unlike fake entrepreneurs who can't overcome their fears, entrepreneurs look for ways, like talking to a mentor, to conquer these fears.
9. They're inconsistent.
No matter what's going on, real entrepreneurs are consistent. They show up to work every day. They put out the same effort and deliver the same great product - even if it's merely a daily blog post.
Fake entrepreneurs, however, are inconsistent. They won't show up to work because they had a rough week. They won't write that blog post because they stayed up too late partying.
Regardless of what's going around them, entrepreneurs are reliable and consistent on a daily basis because they realize that there's something more important than those pesky bumps in the road.
10. They believe the journey is luxurious.
When you think of Richard Branson, you probably have a mental picture of this guy traveling the world and living a life of luxury. That's true today, but Branson, like every other business owner, went through some bad times as well. We've all battled failure and have had to overcome everything from learning disabilities, health issues, family stuff -- to having to sell all our possessions just to get through the next couple of months.
Starting and running a business isn't always luxurious. There's good times and bad times. But, fake entrepreneurs only focus on the good times. Real entrepreneurs take the good times and the bad times and do something about them.