Why only 2% of people own a small business

A quick thought:

People who are in the Silicon Valley bubble have no idea how much work will be required to build and maintain our physical world over the next 50 years.

The plumbers fixing the toilets at the law firm will be billing more per hour than the attorneys before we know it.

Our infrastructure is crumbling and the number folks interested in learning how to repair it is shrinking by the day.

I posted this on twitter and it got 2.3 million impressions. Many people totally agreed with me. Join the discussion here.

Business is a beautiful thing because there are no rules.

It’s fluid. Anything goes.

As an entrepreneur you have complete freedom with 1,000 ways to go.

The problem: The decisions can get overwhelming quickly. Analysis paralysis cripples entrepreneurs.

The game plan of so many folks who call themselves “entrepreneurs”:

  • Follow entrepreneurs on Twitter and read their newsletters (like this)
  • Read books about business
  • Listen to entrepreneurial podcast interviews
  • Dream about business for years and years

They talk a big game, give advice non-stop, put up a fancy public facade.

They use long words and sound very smart. They have a ton of ideas. They know business history very well and talk often about other entrepreneurs in other famous companies.

But they never have the courage to do anything.

They love big ideas. World changing ideas. They idolize Musk and Jobs. They study them and recite their words as the gospel.

They’re passionate about something and that something is what they plan to turn into a business.

They love sexy, high growth, scalable companies. They’re into AI now but we’re into Web3 last year and next year it’ll be the next thing.

They’re easily distracted and love learning. They don’t actually like doing any work.

They’d rather iterate and build and build and iterate before getting a single customer. They’ll build for 18 months without trying to get somebody to pay them.

They want new and innovative and they want to have a blue ocean with no competition. Yet they have no capital and no network and no skills and no distribution. They haven’t done the (uncomfortable) work to build any of the skills or collect any of the resources necessary to truly grow a business.

They love the technology but don’t have any experience managing and leading other people.

They plan to build such a great product that it sells itself. But they’re afraid to pick up the phone and make a sales call. They don’t know any investors. They don’t have anyone in their network they know to be good operators they could hire.

They have big hairy audacious goals. They never achieve them but it’s okay because they were huge and the odds were bad anyway.

They get a lot of security and feel very productive when they learn. If it comes time to do something hard like sell a customer or make a hire they turn on another podcast or read another blog article to “learn”. They get a false sense of productivity from learning and it makes them feel good.

They find 100 reasons NOT to chase every opportunity. They over-analyze everything.

They move from exciting thing to exciting thing but give up as soon as it’s time to commit or spend money.

They are generally pessimistic. They are data driven and need a complete picture before making a decision. They hate uncertainty.

They move slow. They do not have a sense of urgency. Low charisma and minimal leadership skills.

They never end up making anything happen.

They waste everybody’s time who interacts with them from a business perspective.

They are wantrepreneurs.

Many are brilliant and extremely capable.

But they’re insecure and fearful.

I’ve wasted time with these folks in the past and I can spot them a mile away. They have all the red flags. But the big red flag is that they talk a big game but have never built anything. They’ve never led a team. They’ve never sold customers. They’ve never actually made it happen.

If you’re reading this thinking – damn this is me. I’m a wantrepreneur…

Don’t worry. You can overcome it. You just have to jump out of the airplane and take some chances. Make something happen.

The best way to do this:

Tackle something small. A small, achievable, uncomfortable goal. Like to get 3 people in your neighborhood to pay you to cut their grass.

The uncomfortable thing about small goals:

If you don’t achieve them you don’t have a good excuse. It’s 100% on you.

Big giant goals are easy because when you give up and move on to the next exciting thing you can just tell yourself the odds were against you.

It was too hard anyway. Nobody else has done it either.

Setting big giant goals is a cop out. Start small and get uncomfortable.

Get out there and make it happen.


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About Me

I started the Sweaty Startup in December of 2018 because I believe the Shark Tank and Tech Crunch culture is ruining the real spirit of low-risk entrepreneurship.