A Note to Young Entrepreneurs

You aren’t going to be Uber. Well, a few of you may be, but most of you will not. There are a lot of businesses that are being disrupted, and many more will be, but not all of those disruptions will result in an Uber (or something like it).

You aren’t going to be Gary Vaynerchuk either. The mistake you make in believing that he is your model is that you mistake what you see on the screen for entrepreneurship. He continually tells you to eat s…, but you rarely see him doing the real work that makes him an entrepreneur. You don’t see him reviewing financials and doing the more unpleasant tasks that come with being an entrepreneur.

Most of what is entrepreneurship isn’t quite so sexy, even though it’s great that you have a dream. But the real reasons you are going to struggle to create a business is going to come down to a few things:

Delivering Something Cheaper: There are some things that lose their quality when you make them cheaper, think fast food. The fact that you can sell something for $29 doesn’t necessarily translate to an ongoing concern. You may get 35,000 to pay that monthly, but it is not something you should count on. If your only goal is $1,000,000, become a plumber and get three or four trucks.

Underestimating Customer Acquisition: If you don’t how to acquire customers, you are not going to have an ongoing concern. You are going to have some paperwork from LegalZoom and a business card. Maybe you’ll have cool sneakers, too. Growing a business starts and ends with acquiring clients (or customers). That is the core function of a business, and scaling up has nothing to do with anything other than acquiring and serving more customers.

No Base of Understanding: The real challenge for many of you who profess to want to start something is that you have too little experience in business when you start. You haven’t been around a business to know how things work. You haven’t had to rub against the conflicts and challenges and you lack the experience to know how to operate.

“But wait,” you say, “Iannarino, there are kids flipping tennis shoes on Instagram making more money than I am.” This is a true statement and it makes my point. It’s their salesmanship and their marketing that is generating their success, not a rented office, not special coffees or green drinks, not your cool sneakers, not the slide deck that is going to cause the private equity and angels to beat a path to your door, nor is it your business cards.

If you want to be an entrepreneur, you have to build a business by gaining customers. You have to do the difficult things to stand up a company. The success and the accolades may come later, and when they do, you won’t feel the same way about them anyway.

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