Easiest way to fail at being an entrepreneur: Brag instead of research
WFFH: Do you want to own a business more than you want to learn about the business?
Writer’s note: This post was originally published on Medium’s “We Need to Talk” on April 19, 2021. (“Work Fluently From Home,” or WFFH, is a series within “Window Shopping” geared toward entrepreneurs, solopreneurs, gig workers and startups.)
“I want to start a magazine.”
I wince every time someone tells me this. Although the digital world has wiped out a number of magazines and newspapers, that’s not what makes me cringe. My reason is because I’ve worked for a number of startup magazines to the point that I’ve lost count. (It’s less than 10 but more than five.) And none of those magazines lasted. Generally speaking, the same can be said for startups from any industry. Here’s why.
Have you ever met a woman who daydreams about her wedding day? She has a wedding dress picked out. She’s shopped around for rings. She’s listed what kind of man she wants to marry. She’s decided between traveling by horse and carriage or limousine. She knows how she wants to wear her hair, and whether she wants to show a little leg, be covered in lace from head to toe, or wear a full dress of satin. She cannot wait to tell you she’s married, almost tears a whole in the marriage license while signing it, and says she has a “husband” an unbearable amount of times after the honeymoon. Then a few months to a year(s) later, she’s divorce. Why? She wanted the dream wedding but had no clue how to make a marriage work.
That’s how it feels to talk to an entrepreneur who has done very little research on owning a business (or product) but is constantly telling you (s)he owns something. This person cannot wait to self-describe oneself as a solopreneur (working alone and behind the scenes) or an entrepreneur (the face of the company who often has a team). Shelley (formerly known as Dram)’s “Get It Myself” has blasted through their speakers, and they took the lyrics way too literally.
It’s night and day to work as a freelancer versus Corporate America. I fully understand why so many want to bail.
But when it comes to doing the work to make the startup last, there’s radio silence. Print pricing for the magazine? No clue where to find a printer or the ink rates. Circulation? Hoped subscribers would magically flock to them. Writers and editorial rates? Eh, can you work for free? Graphic designers and layout? Can’t we just randomly place images and words on a page?