*Disclaimer: At this point, I totally consider myself a wannabe so I may be slightly biased with my opinion.
I was talking with my wife the other day about Big Omaha selling out and how I thought that indicated that Omaha is starting to shift into a community that is less risk averse than we had been in years past. I highlighted a lot of my thoughts on why that is important in my first post. Then she said “Yeah, but I feel like a lot of wannabes are going to be in attendance as well”. The “wannabes” she was talking about, were the people who want to be entrepreneurs and talk about startups all the time, but ultimately haven’t done anything to start their own thing. They just like pretending to be in the entrepreneur mindset. They just haven’t started/followed through on anything. However, as we started talking about it more, we started realizing that wannabes aren’t all that bad. In fact, they can often bolster entrepreneurship in the community for a couple of reasons.
1. Wannabes are quick to spread the word about people they look up to: Wannabes want to start their own companies but they haven’t. So what do they do instead? They talk about actual entrepreneurs because they respect what they are doing. It’s much the same way I talk about NFL players. I want to be able to play like them, but I can’t. But I am totally envious of what they are doing day in and day out (who wouldn’t be envious of people getting paid millions to play a game you play as kids?) so I talk about them…a lot. This free word of mouth works to your advantage as you are trying to let anyone and everyone know about your new venture. Half of the battle of starting a company is getting the word out. Wannabes do this for you…for free.
2. Wannabes can give a much needed confidence boost to a entrepreneur who is struggling: The wannabes are generally very optimistic things will work out because that is what they truly want. They want to see their idols succeed. It just makes them feel good to see that someone is doing the things that they aspire to do. They can often create a much needed confidence boost when you are down and out and things aren’t going your way. Many business owners talk about how they get motivated by the people who said they couldn’t do it, but sometimes I think you need is someone to tell you that you can and will do it. Sometimes seeing that someone else is envious of what you are doing is enough of a boost to push through the tough times.
3. Wannabes rarely detract from your business at all:Sure it may be annoying to hear people spout off their opinions when they have never done it themselves (hell, I am doing that right now). But when you actually think about it, that is all they are doing. They aren’t actually doing anything that will hurt your business. If they want to pretend to be something they are not, then let them be. I will only start caring when their actions actually hurt my business.
4. Some wannabes actually become doers: When I was in middle school and high school, I used to ride freestyle BMX. I was halfway decent too. I rocked all the biker gear so everyone knew that I rode BMX even if they didn’t see me on a bike. When I was 16, I was hanging out at the bike shop one day, and some middle school kid came in decked out in full on BMX gear and acting like he knew everything about everything. When we left the bike shop, I saw him get on some little kid bike and ride away. I immediately thought “Who the hell did that poser think he was?”. I just chalked him up as another wannabe who liked the idea of riding BMX, but didn’t want to put in the work to actually accomplish anything. A couple months later, I ran into that kid again, but this time I found out that he got a new bike and had been riding every free moment of his life for those last several months. The kid had gotten ridiculously good in a matter of months. That poser kid was now better than me because he spent every waking moment consumed by the fact that he wanted to become a doer (he also had a ton of natural talent). Same thing happens in business. It’s definitely not uncommon for people to go through a total wannabe/poser phase before actually breaking out and getting respect for accomplishing something.
Wannabes may get looked down upon, but in reality, they aren’t too bad. I’m not trying to pretend that these wannabes are as valuable as people who hustle and actually accomplish something, but they get a bad rap from many people who don’t realize that they can actually be pretty helpful. Take that into consideration next time you find yourself bashing wannabes. They are more valuable than you think.
*Editors note: “Wannabe” by the Spice Girls is also highly underrated. Watch the video and try not to smile. It’s impossible.