The Wawapreneur

We have all heard of the different phrases used to label entrepreneur personalities. The Wantrapreneur. The Imitator. The Serial Entrepreneur. The Prodigy. The Mompreneur. The Opportunist. The Solopreneur. The Innovator. And probably a lot more.

Over the past 15 years of talking to hundreds of thousands of entrepreneurs and selecting to work with less than 1% of them, I can place each of them into one of five categories.

1True Entrepreneur. They understand that there’s risk associated with starting a business and that ideation without execution is fruitless. They are prepared to wear multiple hats, will plan to continue to tweak their product along the way but ultimately appreciate completion over perfection.

The True Entrepreneur understands the work/ resource balance. The less work you want to do, the more resources you’ll need. More work you do yourself, requires less resources. They understand the value of time and respect it. Their own and others.

My favorite quality of a True Entrepreneur is their refusal to stop. If something gets in their way, it just means it’s time for a pivot.

2 True Innovator. They have not only come up with a great idea, but they have carefully thought through every aspect of it. Their innovation is their baby and they have high hopes for it.

The True Innovator understands the need for execution but understands they need a team to handle the execution. Occasionally, they have a difficult time hearing feedback on their idea. Nine times out of ten, they come around and understand why the suggestions are being made.

To be a successful True Innovator, they’ll have to find a great partner and learn to share the control of the idea development.

The True Entrepreneur and True Innovator have a realistic expectation and understanding of what it takes to bring a product to market. They have set out to find the perfect combination of a unique offering, market demand and hustle.

3The EGO. They know it all. Even if they know they need help, they will question every piece of advice given to them.

The EGO doesn’t want to listen to anyone but themselves — they need help but are so caught up in their own version of reality that they never listen. They increase their chance of failure at market because they can’t allow themselves to admit that someone else may know more. These are the people who will give up and write the market perception off because “they just don’t get it”.

My experience with The EGO has always been an uphill battle. If they get far enough to be offered a deal, they usually end up killing it with their endless talking, pontificating, or unrealistic demands.

4 The Unicorn Seeker. They believe that their idea is SO great that someone should pay them millions for it. They have unrealistic expectations of how business is conducted and are unhappy when the unicorn ends up being a horse.

Unicorn Seekers are looking for their ticket on the ‘Get rich quick’ train. They’re looking for a type of deal that just doesn’t exist. I am sure that somewhere, someone has been paid for an idea. How much? I don’t know. I have never heard of someone making a significant amount of money for an idea. What I have heard of is people protecting, developing, designing, manufacturing, marketing, selling and building businesses around their ideas… AND THEN making a significant amount of money.

The flaw with the Unicorn Seeker mentality is that they focus their efforts on the search and not on building value. Hypothetically speaking, lets say this “entrepreneur” finds their Unicorn. Someone willing to offer them money for their idea. Their lack of preparation along with unrealistic expectations, will ruin the opportunity before it begins.

After 15 years in the space, I have never seen a Unicorn Seeker succeed.

5 The Wawapreneur. This “entrepreneur” complains about everything. Nothing is ever adequate and it’s always someone else’s fault. They are lacking self-awareness and incapable of recognizing their role in their current situation.

They are THE WORST. I say the worst because their behavior is that of entitled arrogance. They treat their team terribly, yet expect them to perform at the highest of quality. They want the taste of success, yet are unwilling or unable to lift a finger to get there… oh, and they also are unwilling to pay extra to keep them from doing so.

If someone doesn’t want their idea, it’s not their fault. It’s the person that reviewed it or better yet, the person that did the work to pitch it. It’s their fault. The Wawapreneur is an individual that would take a painting class, borrow supplies, have trouble painting, ask a classmate to paint for them and then complain when no one wanted to buy the painting, blame the class, supplies and classmate… Wawa.

They think others should be responsible for their success -it’s owed to them, after all.

Their inability to look in the mirror, is why they still wonder why no one wants to talk to them, work with them, carry their product or do a deal with them. They never make it very far... in success or their wonder.

Taking an idea to market is not an overnight endeavor. It takes a ton of hard work, time, resources, and interpersonal skills to succeed. The lessons learned from our company working with Wawapreneurs, EGOs and Unicorn Seekers has been invaluable. Not fun lessons, but we learned that we need to weed them out. Every once and a while, a few slip by our vetting process and inevitably, they kill deals, complain and every once in a while, take it a step too far.

The good thing is people can change. Self-evaluation is the first step to decreasing your odds of failure and increasing your chance of success.