Are you infected with Entrepreneurial Fuckarounditis?

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There is a disease spreading around the world, one that affects aspiring entrepreneurs. And it is very dangerous.

It’s called “Entrepreneurial Fuckarounditis”.

“What’s that?”, you might ask. I will promptly explain. But first, a little background on the term…

Staying fit and healthy are top priorities in my life, so I try to stay informed about fitness, nutrition and health in general. From times to times, I enjoy a well written article on strength training and weightlifting.

A while ago, a friend of mine shared an article on a FB group that we are both members. It was written by personal trainer Martin Berkhan, who runs a popular fitness blog named LeanGains.

The article was plainly titled “Fuckarounditis”, and talked about poor results in one’s physique due to specific behavioral patterns.

Want to get this article as a nice PDF ebook? Download it below!

From the article:

“Fuckarounditis is a behavioral disorder characterized by a mediocre physique and complete lack of progress, despite significant amounts of time spent in the gym.

Fuckarounditis most commonly manifests itself as an intense preoccupation with crunches, curls, cable movements, belts, gloves, balance boards, Swiss Balls and Tyler Durden. Fear of squats and deadlifts is another distinguishing trait. Physical exertion is either completely lacking or misapplied (towards questionable or unproductive training practices).”

This of course was a humorous attempt to highlight a disturbing pattern that Berkhan noticed among his peers.

People that have been infected by the “disease” have a specific approach towards their training. Instead of staying disciplined, focusing on a few fundamental principles and fighting hard to achieve their goals, they tend to overcomplicate things and fumble around showing little to no progress.

Berkhan then offers a benchmark which lifters should compare their progress and goals against. The benchmark involved specific numbers that should be reached depending on the time frame that the individual had been training.

Finally, Berkhan provides a comprehensive list of 25 common symptoms and behaviors associated with fuckarounditis. Not surprisingly, this was named “The Fuckarounditis Test”.

The symptoms involved not keeping track of your progress, not being methodical, focusing on trivial things with minimal impact, making excuses on why you do not perform specific exercises, not paying attention to the things that matter and overall having a lukewarm approach to training.

The conclusion is that individuals that present these symptoms should immediately discontinue their failing behavior and implement the required changes without wasting time.

I found the article highly entertaining, but also very informative at the same time. You should definitely read it in its entirety.

While reading it, I could not help but notice the striking similarities in the behaviour of trainees and aspiring entrepreneurs. Of course they operate in totally different domains, yet the resemblance of their actions is remarkable. Human nature is universal after all.

entrepreneurial-fuckarounditis_02_laptop

After reading the article, I contemplated upon the various patterns that wannabe entrepreneurs present, and surely a vast number of them shows signs of “fuckarounditis” infection.

With the rise of technology and the internet, entrepreneurship has been in vogue, especially after the recent financial crisis which kicked a lot of people out of the workforce. People with a “great idea” are rushing to build a startup, especially in the online world.

Unfortunately, there are several wannabe entrepreneurs who are messing around with little to show for. We surely face an epidemic of “Entrepreneurial Fuckarounditis”.

For this reason, I compiled a list of symptoms and behaviors associated with the “disease”. It will help you assess whether or not you are making progress in your wealth building, or you are just spinning your wheels.

Hence the birth of the “Entrepreneurial Fuckarounditis Test”.

People are in high risk of the “disease” when they present one or more of the following “symptoms”:

1. They use the word “Someday”

My favorite kind of wannabe “entrepreneurs”. These people have already lost from the beginning. Why? Because they do not even start a venture!

They might talk about it, discuss it, preach it, but when it comes to real action, they take none.

The rationalization of course is that they are waiting for something. Something that will be delivered “someday”.

It might be a promotion at work, some extra money for capital, the kids going to college, or whatever.

Someday they will do it, someday they will start a business, someday they will get rich, someday they will rule the world.

And of course none of these declarations ever materializes. Because “someday” never comes.

As MJ DeMarco, author of the “Millionaire Fastlane” book poetically mentions:

“Someday is a distant horizon in the theater of your mind.”

So what is the correct approach here?

First, you need to draft a strategic plan. One that will take you from your current situation to where you want to go. In it, you will assess your present status and strategize how you will accomplish your goals, in this case, starting a successful business. Even if it is not the best plan, you should make one anyway.

During your journey to wealth, you will make adjustments to the plan based on the feedback you will receive and on the new knowledge you will have acquired by then. It will not be a rigid structure.

After having a plan in place, there is only one thing to do: get started. Have faith in the process and take the leap. As the famous slogan says: “Just do it”.

Remember, if you wait until all preconditions are met, you will never start. And never starting on your goals is a surefire way to go nowhere in life.

“If you wait until all the lights are “green” before you leave home, you’ll never get started on your trip to the top.”

– Zig Ziglar

2. They believe all they need is an idea

This has to be the greatest business fallacy of all. The belief that all it takes to create a successful business is an “idea”.

Inexperienced entrepreneurs value “ideas” and treasure them as sacred. They might procrastinate and postpone starting a business because they are in search of a “great idea”. And when they find one that looks good in their eyes, they keep it a secret and refuse to share it with the world.

Experienced entrepreneurs know that ideas are close to worthless, and that execution is what really counts. That is why they get obsessed with their business’s operation and put all their energy and focus into it.

The fact is that an idea on its own means nothing. Acting on an idea is what really matters.

By the way, a lot of people can simultaneously have the same idea. Who owns it then? Of course the one that executes better on it. I am pretty sure that you have had an idea about creating a “social network”. Did Mark Zuckerberg steal your idea?

entrepreneurial-fuckarounditis_03_idea

Look, it might seem that a “good idea” is what is needed to build a great business. The truth is that it is not even a prerequisite.

The majority of successful businesses were not built on an original idea, but rather on the excellent execution of an old one.

Some of the largest corporations of the world were not the “first players”. Google was not the first search engine. Facebook was not the first social network. Apple was not the first mobile device manufacturer.

What differentiates the great businesses from the rest is their impeccable execution. As we have mentioned several times, this execution has to be consistent and might last for years before its results manifest.

“Ideas are commodity. Execution of them is not.”

– Michael Dell

3. Their procrastination is legendary

This category of “entrepreneurs” really baffles me. They might have started a small venture or project, but after their initial thrill, they lose focus and just tread water.

They procrastinate and trifle, squandering away their precious time while making zero progress.

But they have an excuse of course. There is always an excuse.

“I am waiting for my developer to complete my website. Yeah, it has been 3 months now.”

“Look, I have to read a few more books on marketing before I get going with this.”

“Times are difficult nowadays, I will have to wait. Don’t you see the mess with the government deficits and all?”

And on and on they go.

In essence, they fail the part that matters the most in business: Execution.

Their execution is weak, so they always go nowhere and give up their projects after a while.

To combat this, you need to know how to handle procrastination and be more productive in your day. You need to tame your subconscious mind which wants you to sit on a couch in front of the TV box and eat crappy food doing nothing.

Look, the main cause of procrastination is that you are usually trying to do something out of your comfort zone. This comes in conflict with your current equilibrium in life and your brain makes you “feel” uneasy. “Feel” is the operative word here.

Whenever you find yourself “feeling” something, it means that you are getting in an emotional state. When you get in an emotional state, your rational thinking goes out of the window. Because of this, you make decisions that you know on a logical level that are not optimal, but you do it anyway.

The only countermeasure is to not allow yourself to even get in a state like that. Learn how to circumvent your subconscious mind and create a context and workflow where things are getting done no matter what.

“Procrastination is the bad habit of putting of until the day after tomorrow what should have been done the day before yesterday.”

– Napoleon Hill

4. They lack consistency in their actions

Building wealth is hard. It requires tremendous commitment and massive amounts of time and hard work.

Additionally, wealth accumulation follows an exponential curve, instead of a linear one.

This means that in the early steps, the results are usually miniscule. Until a tipping point is reached and scale kicks-in, you will not have much to show for and this can be disheartening. You have to persevere, persist and plow through the early stages.

For these reasons, people that do not have consistency in their efforts are doomed to fail.

I have seen “entrepreneurs” going in and out of projects, remembering their venture whenever it is convenient. Or having a casual approach towards their project, working occasionally on it. Or postponing their “business” plans because it is summer and it is time for vacations.

This is a recipe for disaster.

It is much better to truly focus your energy on a project for a month obsessing with it, rather than to work on it sporadically for a year.

If you are not following your strategic plan consistently and meticulously, you are going nowhere.

Look, you will have to work on your business. A lot of hours. Every day. For years. There is no other way around it.

Bill Gates typically worked 16-hour days and took only a few days off in the first five years after establishing Microsoft. He is now among the wealthiest people in the world. He must know something about it.

Again, create a framework within you can work productively, and consistently keep hustling until your reach your goals.

Success is neither magical nor mysterious. Success is the natural consequence of consistently applying basic fundamentals.

– Jim Rohn

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5. They “put the cart before the horse”

This is another common misguided behaviour. A lot of new “entrepreneurs” are confused about some business fundamentals and attempt to execute things in the wrong order, wasting their time in the meantime.

For example, they might research how to get retail distribution of their product when they have not validated it yet and have zero sales.

Or they might investigate sourcing options from China to get “lower costs” for their product, when they have not even built a prototype for it yet.

Or they might spend time exploring tax optimization solutions, when their business is tiny and their net worth is laughable.

These seem obvious right now and totally irrational, but hey, people aren’t rational.

These “entrepreneurs” are usually “event oriented” instead of “process driven”. They crave the glory of an event, e.g. a successful business exit, and try to leapfrog directly to that, skipping all the interim process of hard work.

Granted, building a business is not a linear, step by step process, but some things have to be done in a specific order.

This highlights even more the need for a high level plan for your business and wealth goals. You should carefully strategize the next steps required to take your business to the next level and focus furiously on them until you achieve them.

“Life is too complicated not to be orderly.”

– Martha Stewart

6. They focus on irrelevant things

A similar symptom of wannabe entrepreneurs is that they focus on irrelevant things and things that do not matter. They aim their attention at insignificant or low impact items, instead of those that will actually move their business forward.

They are involved in “pseudo-work” which makes them feel good (“I am busy taking action!”) but in reality, nothing changes.

This is quite often the effect of procrastination, but it can also be caused by plain ignorance. In any case, the end result is the same: zero actual progress.

Let’s see an example of this.

Meet John. John has an idea for a product that he believes will help solve a need in a specific niche. He manages to create a simple prototype and he is very excited.

However, instead of trying to reach potential customers (either online or offline), he spends his time trying to find the perfect logo for his pending “million dollar business”. He is actually fumbling around when he should be trying to validate his product idea.

These are the “entrepreneurs” that MJ DeMarco calls “Action fakers”.

An “action faker” is the antithesis of the “action taker”. His actions are not part of an overall strategy or high-level plan, but they are random and inconsistent. What we have here is action for the sake of action.

Instead, an “action taker” is someone who takes repeated action towards a goal. He has a well crafted plan and systematically takes action towards the direction he has pre-designed. His efforts are consistent and thoughtfully planned.

entrepreneurial-fuckarounditis_05_focus

To make sure you are moving forward, you should regularly pause and reflect. Ask yourself these questions:

– Is this task I am about to perform really necessary in order to have progress?

– Is what I am doing right now the optimal use of my time?

– Is this task useful or I am doing it only to deflect from doing something more important?

These questions will set a framework on how to evaluate the significance of your actions and will help you focus on the essential and discard the rest.

“Most of what we say and do is not essential. If you can eliminate it, you’ll have more time, and more tranquillity. Ask yourself at every moment, ‘Is this necessary?’”

– Marcus Aurelius

7. They think a new business will be quick and easy

A lot of new entrepreneurs believe that going into business is something fairly easy and that success is going to come quickly. This could not be further from the truth and these people are in for a rude awaking.

It is true that launching a business has never been easier, especially for online ventures. But just registering a domain or even incorporating, does not mean you have a serious business, nor that you will gain traction any time soon.

This misconception is propagated by the media which presents successful businesses as being “overnight successes”. They focus on the glamour and riches of a prosperous business, but fail to highlight the massive amount of effort that had been put into it until it reached that state.

The reality is that new entrepreneurs have no idea of the huge amount of hard and consistent work that it takes in order to get a new business off the ground and generate success. They severely underestimate the effort needed and then get disappointed when they don’t get the results they expected.

They think that by building a product or service, customers will come. In fact, they won’t. Building a business is rarely easy, especially if it is your first. You have to devote yourself to it for the long run and be patient until it takes off, something that could take years.

Especially for your first ventures, you have to be humble. Put in the required hours, be persistent and work systematically towards your goal.

“Ideas are easy. Implementation is hard.”

– Guy Kawasaki

8. They try to be a “One man army”

These are the people who want to do everything on their own in their business. They cannot accept that someone else could be involved with their “baby” and handle specific tasks.

They might brag about pulling all nighters to get the work done, when in reality they usually spin their wheels going nowhere.

Look, when you are bootstrapping a business, you must keep costs to a minimum so you will have to do everything from accounting to logo creation. But when your business shows signs of positive cashflow, it is very inefficient to handle all these tasks by yourself.

This is typical mentality of “technicians” gone “entrepreneurs”. The term “technician” comes from the book “E-Myth Revisited” and describes an individual who has a hard skill (e.g. programming or designing) and he is usually quite proficient at that.

The default mindset of a technician is that they are the best at doing a specific task, so they could never let anyone else do it for them. They have to always be involved because they will do it better than anyone.

Even worse, this attitude often spills over to other aspects of their business, so they will deal with tasks totally outside their competence (e.g. their bookkeeping). They try to be a “one man army”.

entrepreneurial-fuckarounditis_06_man

Regular readers of this blog will have already identified the problem in this logic. Human beings are finite entities and they lack one of the most important elements of a successful business: leverage.

If you want your business to grow past its infancy phase and really start scaling, you will have to adjust your mindset. You will need to find competent people and delegate to them the tasks that should not be done by you.

Don’t worry if you are a technician, I still consider myself as one! It has tremendous advantages, especially in the early stages of a business.

The thing is that after some point, you will have to overgrow that role. You will have to start working “on your business” instead of working “in your business”.

“If you really want to grow as an entrepreneur, you’ve got to learn to delegate.”

– Richard Branson

9. They do not know their numbers

This is a majorly important symptom that can be diagnosed in more established entrepreneurs too.

These people have ignorance of their business numbers, e.g. their revenue, expenses, earnings, earnings growth etc, or their important business KPIs (Key Performance Indicators), e.g. mailing list subscribers, landing page conversion, monthly visits etc.

If they are asked about their monthly revenue, they will mumble trying to remember the number. Or they will know what their revenue is, but totally neglect the other side of the equations, costs.

The importance of this can be noticed in the TV show “Shark Tank”, which features entrepreneurs who pitch their ventures to investors, the “Sharks”. If an entrepreneur comes in and does not know the exact numbers of his business, he gets hammered by the “Sharks” and rarely gets a deal.

entrepreneurial-fuckarounditis_07_accounting

In our online businesses, we routinely track visits, mailing list subscribers and revenue, on a weekly, monthly and yearly basis. These numbers are then plotted over visual graphs.

It is important to present the numbers in a visual format. Images are processed by our brains enormously faster than text. It is much more informative to have a few simple graphs drawn, than to look at a bunch of numbers on a spreadsheet.

This allows us to notice emerging patterns and general trends, but also catch early any underlying problems.

For example, if our mailing list is normally growing at a rate of 5% per week, but in a specific week growth is almost flat, then there might be some technical problem with the signup process.

In your venture, you should find 1-3 important metrics that should be tracked and create a process of monitoring those in a recurring basis. Actually, you should focus your efforts on improving those, and by doing that, the overall performance of your business will usually improve.

“What gets measured, gets managed.”

– Peter Drucker

10. Their business has Zero Revenue

Another favourite of mine.

These people believe that getting into business is an end in itself. Guess what. It isn’t.

The ultimate goal of any business is to make money.

Look. Having no profits, I understand. After all, you should not declare profits the first few years of running your business, everything should be reinvested back into it.

But having no revenue is a whole other story. Having zero sales probably means that you have not validated your business model and you are walking in the dark. This doesn’t make any sense.

At some point you have to monetize the damn thing. You have to follow a specific revenue model and get people to pay you for the value that you are offering to them (you are providing massive value, right?).

Suppose you have built an online service that you have been providing for free. It is very valuable to its users and they have been happily using it. After a period of time, when your service is stable and reliable, you will have to introduce paid options and perhaps convert the existing users into paying ones.

Will many of the users abandon the service? For sure! In fact, it is possible that the majority of them will do.

One of the biggest challenges in business is to make a non paying customer pay for the first time, even if it is only $1.

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But if you want to call your project a “business”, it is inevitable that you will have to do it eventually.

Now, there are some edge cases where having no revenue does not necessarily mean that your business is worthless.

This might be if you are building a social app that attracts millions of people. In this case, you have an Audience, something extremely valuable.

Or you might be developing a highly sophisticated software security algorithm. In this case, you have Intellectual Property, also valuable.

The only acceptable case of having zero revenue is when you are building something of concrete and substantial value.

However, in the vast majority of the cases, lack of revenue after a period of time, means lack of business model. And without a business model, well, you do not have a business, you have a hobby.

“Our goal is long-term growth in revenue and absolute profit… so we invest aggressively in future innovation while tightly managing our short-term costs.”

– Larry Page

11. Their progress is laughable

This is the last symptom, and essentially the one that encaptures all of them. “Entrepreneurs” infected with “Entrepreneurial Fuckarounditis” will have miniscule progress and meager results, even after years.

At the end of the day, it is all about results. Hard, cold, objective, numeric results. And ideally those results should be monetary based.

If you are not making serious progress increasing your net worth, then something is terribly wrong.

When you draw your net worth on a chart year after year (you do track your net worth, right?), you should see a steady exponential curve. There could be some ups and downs due to market volatility, but overall the pattern should be clear. Up and to the right.

In order to achieve something like that, you should be growing yourself and your business year after year. In life in general, and especially in business, growth is mandatory for survival.

Here is an example.

Let’s assume that your primary vehicle to wealth is a business. Excellent choice.

A good number to aim for is doubling the revenue (or earnings) of your business each year. That means that your company will have a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 100%.

If you manage to consistently achieve something like that, you will soon attain high levels of income, even if you initially started with low numbers.

For example, even if your business initially brings in $500 per month ($6,000 per year), after 4 years it will bring you (2^4*500)=$8,000 per month, i.e. almost $100K per year. Try to accomplish something like that with a day job.

This is one of the reasons why wealth accumulation follows an exponential curve. Of course, in order to be able to reach numbers like those, you have to be running a business that is scalable.

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The bottom line here is that unless you are making measurable, tangible progress towards your goals, something is amiss. In that case, you have to seriously re-assess your long term goals and re-evaluate any plans that you had in place.

“Growth is never by mere chance; it is the result of forces working together.”

– James Cash Penney, Founder of JCPenney

Conclusion

Entrepreneurship is very popular these days, almost a fad.

On one side, there are some amazing businesses being built, especially on the online world. On the other side, there are a lot of people who believe they are engaging in business, but in reality they are just messing around.

It seems that these people are infected with a disease aptly named “Entrepreneurial Fuckarounditis”.

It is a behavioral disorder characterized by mediocre results and complete lack of progress, despite significant amounts of time and effort allocated.

Based on my observations during the past few years, I have compiled a list with the most common “symptoms” that plague aspiring entrepreneurs. Here they are:

1. They use the word “Someday”
2. They believe all they need is an idea
3. Their procrastination is legendary
4. They lack consistency in their actions
5. They “put the cart before the horse”
6. They focus on irrelevant things
7. They think a new business will be quick and easy
8. They try to be a “One man army”
9. They do not know their numbers
10. Their business has Zero Revenue
11. Their progress is laughable

Did I miss any symptoms? Probably yes, but these are the most serious ones.

If you recognize yourself in any of these, and have not achieved any tangible progress so far, you must immediately stop your past behavior, reboot your plan and implement any necessary changes. Time is critical.

“The biggest risk is not taking any risk… In a world that changing really quickly, the only strategy that is guaranteed to fail is not taking risks.”

– Mark Zuckerberg

Every week day I am dropping short-form value-bombs on LinkedIn. Connect with me now!

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