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Six Reasons Entrepreneurs Suck

By: Guest | October 20, 2011 | 
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Today’s guest post is written by Marc Girolimetti.

I’ve been blessed by living among entrepreneurs my entire life. I’ve learned a lot from them and they inspired me to drop the dreams of being the next Jacques Cousteau and head straight to Babson College, which has been named the #1 undergraduate program for entrepreneurship for 15 consecutive years.

As a result of choosing a life of working within and founding a couple of start-ups, I get to dabble in adjunct teaching of entrepreneurship at Boston University.

As a result I can say one thing: Entrepreneurs suck.

I’m addicted to start-ups, but it’s begun to take its toll on me emotionally and financially. “One more hit,” I say. “Then I’ll quit.”  That’s because no illegal narcotic can give you a better rush and ruin your life more deeply than choosing to be an entrepreneur.

1. Entrepreneurs think they have the most beautiful baby on the block.

No parent will tell you they have an ugly kid and no entrepreneur will tell you their product sucks. It’s that stubborn belief in the quality of the product and unwillingness to be told otherwise that will kill the company before it gets out of the gate.

Eric Reis, the Lean Start-Up guy, says, to summarize, get the product out there with some good features, but let the market determine where it should go and release updates accordingly.

Is the entrepreneur OK with a full-version version of the product not existing?

2. Entrepreneurs are terrible communicators.

More often than not, an entrepreneur has a vision in their head, but is incapable of clearly communicating it to anyone. As a result, two things tend to occur: They surround themselves with “yes men” who agree to anything without putting any thought into it or they bring on board critical thinkers, but create a poor working relationship because the critical thinker needs most, if not all, of the information before putting a strategy forth.

3. Entrepreneurs are liars.

Part of this is a result of needing to compete in a very noisy environment, especially when searching for partners, investors, advisors, and/or board members. Where it becomes a major problem, is when the lie gains traction and eventually becomes the truth. The result can have drastic effects on the business. Investors or vendors can feel duped. Customers and partners will walk away. Most importantly, reputations can be tarnished in the long-term.

4. Entrepreneurs take things too personally and can’t handle negativity.

Because they are so engrossed in the vision, entrepreneurs tend to shift themselves into an alternate reality where negativity doesn’t exist. If handed criticism or a “no” from a customer, the entrepreneur tends to disavow any knowledge of it and moves forward without processing why. This goes back to the ugly baby issue, but every business has tough times and the alternate reality is just another form of hiding from problems.

5. Entrepreneurs are impatient.

A start-up is small and moves swiftly. Decisions can be made in an instant. Strategy can be implemented with minimal investment. The challenge arises when others, such as customers, investors or partners, are brought into the mix. When an entrepreneur interacts with them, they are the #1 priority. To the customer, investor or partner, the entrepreneur is more likely priority #157. Entrepreneurs are in such a hurry they can’t see the value of what a little patience can bring.

6. Entrepreneurs fear success.

Many entrepreneurs can take a start-up to a certain point. Some complete the product development, but can’t generate revenue. Some generate revenue, but don’t know how to grow the business. Success usually means an entrepreneur has to give up a significant amount of control. The baby is growing up and needs to be nurtured by others. The fear of losing control as a result of success, is probably the number one killer of a growing start-up.

Entrepreneurs, when it boils down to it, only trust themselves and they’ll make every excuse in the book to justify retaining power. This is why a promising young company, generating $10 million annually, can disappear in an instant.

I have experienced more character flaws, but these are the core issues that every investor, partner, customer, and vendor need to be concerned about. I have nothing but respect for entrepreneurs. I love helping and sharing my myriad of experiences with them, but they are, more often than not, humans at their worst and many can be harmed as a result.

Marc Girolimetti is an award-winning, 16-year veteran of the interactive agency and software worlds. He’s founded two companies and been part of four more start-ups covering news, entertainment, advertising and gaming. A graduate of Babson College, Marc lives in the Boston area and believes pinball is the source of world peace.

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97 Comments on "Six Reasons Entrepreneurs Suck"

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DannyBrown
4 years 8 months ago

Boom! Great stuff, mate, and so true (despite what many will probably tell you). Entrepreneurs also don’t listen well; and then wonder why they’re still chasing the same dream as they were a year, two years, three years ago, etc.

Want to be an entreprenuer? Drop the ego at the door, admit you’re going to mess up numerous times, have a limit and date set when you’re going to say “Enough’s enough” and stick to that.

Don’t want to do that? Then find a 9-5, because that’s where you’ll be anyway shortly.

Cheers!

DannyBrown
4 years 8 months ago

PS – Entrepreneurs also suck at choosing decent ties… 😉

NancyD68
4 years 8 months ago

Number 5 could have been written by me! I quit a startup a month or so ago. The owner wanted to know where his huge Twitter followers and Facebook fans were. I told him this takes time, and he told me I was too negative and not a team player.

He also never had anyone around who disagreed with him. EVER. Disagreement meant you were a moron who didn’t “get it”

I really loved this. I feel like I should clap or something. If I were in a Church I would get up and yell AMEN!

karimacatherine
karimacatherine
4 years 8 months ago

@DannyBrown : This could be applied to star performers as well. It may tie in together because it is a type of personality.

karimacatherine
karimacatherine
4 years 8 months ago

@DannyBrown : This could be applied to star performers as well. It may tie in together because it is a type of personality.

jennwhinnem
jennwhinnem
4 years 8 months ago

I didn’t know you were going to tell the truth, Marc! I’ve seen #2 and #4 way too many times…

rustyspeidel
rustyspeidel
4 years 8 months ago

Hmmmm…

rustyspeidel
rustyspeidel
4 years 8 months ago

Hmmmm…

MarcGirolimetti
MarcGirolimetti
4 years 8 months ago

While in my “What’s my next gig?” mode I’m off to swim lessons with an adorable 5 yo, who happens to have my name on her birth certificate. However, I will say this @DannyBrown , life is more than a tartan pattern. Got it? 😉

DannyBrown
4 years 8 months ago

@MarcGirolimetti Dude, anything is a pattern. Anything but green, that is… 🙂

DannyBrown
4 years 8 months ago

@MarcGirolimetti You have a 5 year old Marc Girolimetti? Didn’t they have a baby name book at your hospital? 😉

Enjoy!

MSGiro
MSGiro
4 years 8 months ago

@ginidietrich Big thanks to you and @lisagerber. I’m waiting to be eviscerated by Gini in the comments.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
4 years 8 months ago
I’m not sure where to start. I am an entrepreneur. I’m crazy enough to be starting a second business right now, while growing the first business and writing a book. I see a lot of this in myself. But I also think it’s a gross generalization. Are you all six of these things? How would you feel if someone said them about you? Oh who am I kidding? I just re-read the six things and you’re right. I’m all of them. I work really hard on accepting negative criticism, on allowing the market to determine features, on being patient, and… Read more »
ginidietrich
ginidietrich
4 years 8 months ago
I’m not sure where to start. I am an entrepreneur. I’m crazy enough to be starting a second business right now, while growing the first business and writing a book. I see a lot of this in myself. But I also think it’s a gross generalization. Are you all six of these things? How would you feel if someone said them about you? Oh who am I kidding? I just re-read the six things and you’re right. I’m all of them. I work really hard on accepting negative criticism, on allowing the market to determine features, on being patient, and… Read more »
ginidietrich
ginidietrich
4 years 8 months ago

@DannyBrown I like his tie! It’s my favorite photo of him!

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
4 years 8 months ago

@MSGiro I decided you were right.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
4 years 8 months ago

@MSGiro I decided you were right.

DannyBrown
4 years 8 months ago

@ginidietrich You also like power suits to cycle in. I rest my case. 🙂

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
4 years 8 months ago

@DannyBrown Please. We all know I cycle in spandex.

doubleZY
doubleZY
4 years 8 months ago

@MSGiro Marc, this piece is great. Miss you, man!

abarcelos
4 years 8 months ago
These are very common. I’ve worked for entrepreneurs like this, they’re unbearable, ha ha kidding. Actually, they stand in the way of their own success. It’s very personal to them, like a child, which is why it’s hard for most to let go. So they stay small and experience very little growth. Remember that Apple, IBM, HP, etc. were all entrepreneurs, but they realized they couldn’t go at it alone, and were humble (don’t know if that’s the right word) enough to realize they had many weaknesses and therefore needed others to step in. Takes strength, trust, and risk, which… Read more »
abarcelos
4 years 8 months ago
These are very common. I’ve worked for entrepreneurs like this, they’re unbearable, ha ha kidding. Actually, they stand in the way of their own success. It’s very personal to them, like a child, which is why it’s hard for most to let go. So they stay small and experience very little growth. Remember that Apple, IBM, HP, etc. were all entrepreneurs, but they realized they couldn’t go at it alone, and were humble (don’t know if that’s the right word) enough to realize they had many weaknesses and therefore needed others to step in. Takes strength, trust, and risk, which… Read more »
DannyBrown
4 years 8 months ago

@ginidietrich Please. We all know you cycle in power spandex.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
4 years 8 months ago

@DannyBrown And I look hot doing it.

DannyBrown
4 years 8 months ago

@ginidietrich ……

rustyspeidel
rustyspeidel
4 years 8 months ago
Um…after pondering these, I have decided I have issues with many of them. 1. I totally agree with. Without that, you can’t sell it. 2. They can’t be terrible communicators and be successful. They gist of successful entrepreneurial ventures is the the telling of the story, communication of the vision through the taxed and limited resources you do have access to, and the ability to motivate others to take risks and power through. 3. i wouldn’t say they are liars ALL the time. Maybe “optimists.” You lie too long, the venture fails. Really important to see reality here. 4. They… Read more »
rustyspeidel
rustyspeidel
4 years 8 months ago

@ginidietrich@DannyBrown hmmm. that completely remains to be seen.

Liz
Liz
4 years 8 months ago

Can we change the title to “Entrepreneurs and SM Gurus Suck?” Nice post, Marc.

John Falchetto
4 years 8 months ago

I agree and they are jerks also.

jonbuscall
4 years 8 months ago

#5 could apply to anyone in business. Everyone I meet wants the sale yesterday, the new website last week, the social media tool to beat everyone else at least a year before any one else gets it.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
4 years 8 months ago

@rustyspeidel@DannyBrown Oh no. It’s true. It’s been proven.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
4 years 8 months ago

@rustyspeidel@DannyBrown Oh no. It’s true. It’s been proven.

Raj-PB
4 years 8 months ago

I agree with the point which says they are surrounded by ‘yes’ men. I wonder why such inflated ego? And they do lie, yes! But not so much we think they do. About having the most beautiful baby, what else can I say – it was nailed perfectly by you!

Raj-PB
4 years 8 months ago

I agree with the point which says they are surrounded by ‘yes’ men. I wonder why such inflated ego? And they do lie, yes! But not so much we think they do. About having the most beautiful baby, what else can I say – it was nailed perfectly by you!

RevenueDoctor
RevenueDoctor
4 years 8 months ago

6 Reasons Entrepreneurs Suck http://t.co/dNZA3hu5 RT @SpinSucks #startup Provocative! Liked it.

MarcGirolimetti
MarcGirolimetti
4 years 8 months ago

@karimacatherine@DannyBrown I assume by “star performers” we aren’t talking about people involved with Simon Cowell.

MarcGirolimetti
MarcGirolimetti
4 years 8 months ago

@NancyD68 Thanks Nancy. Clap away although most of us would prefer to see it in YouTube format. Personally, I’d wish you do it with a gospel choir accompanying you. 😉

NancyD68
4 years 8 months ago

@MarcGirolimetti I can maybe get one white robe and some kids singing. That might work.

HowieSPM
4 years 8 months ago
Marc love your post. I will bring a different angle since not only am I a current struggling Entrepreneur but also in Marketing/Advertising. I used to want to be the Professional Manager hired to bring a start up to the next level…then wound up somehow in Advertising and blammo…it is a long road and I see a lot of my struggles in your post. But my comment is just on one point. The ugly baby issue.Focusing just on consumer products, many companies with deep pockets R&D new products all the time. In total so many new products get launched each… Read more »
HowieSPM
4 years 8 months ago
Marc love your post. I will bring a different angle since not only am I a current struggling Entrepreneur but also in Marketing/Advertising. I used to want to be the Professional Manager hired to bring a start up to the next level…then wound up somehow in Advertising and blammo…it is a long road and I see a lot of my struggles in your post. But my comment is just on one point. The ugly baby issue.Focusing just on consumer products, many companies with deep pockets R&D new products all the time. In total so many new products get launched each… Read more »
fitzternet
4 years 8 months ago

Nice post. I eagerly await the follow-up “Six Reasons MBAs Suck.”

PatrickStrother
PatrickStrother
4 years 8 months ago

Not sure I can relate to number 2. I have known a lot of entrepreneurs over the years. I actually cannot think of one that was a terrible communicator. Most of them were actually pretty good and many were outstanding.

MarcGirolimetti
MarcGirolimetti
4 years 8 months ago

@jennwhinnem shhhhhhh if word gets back to my mother, that I’m telling the truth, my entire high school social experience will fall like a house of cards.

MarcGirolimetti
MarcGirolimetti
4 years 8 months ago

@DannyBrown Hey, I’m not sure how birth certificates work in Canada, via Scotland, but us Americans like documented proof of child “ownership”. 😉

MarcGirolimetti
MarcGirolimetti
4 years 8 months ago

@DannyBrown Hey, I’m not sure how birth certificates work in Canada, via Scotland, but us Americans like documented proof of child “ownership”. 😉

MarcGirolimetti
MarcGirolimetti
4 years 8 months ago

@ginidietrich I’m glad you re-read it, not because you said that I’m right, but rather you took advantage of performing a self-assessment and ended up being honest with yourself. When I say entrepreneurs are liars, they lie to themselves more than anyone else.

MarcGirolimetti
MarcGirolimetti
4 years 8 months ago

@abarcelos that’s been my biggest challenge over the last few years. I’ve been involved with a couple of ventures that were a mere few wise decisions away from overwhelming success, but the inability for some to let go stonewalled all of it.

MarcGirolimetti
MarcGirolimetti
4 years 8 months ago
@rustyspeidel thanks for jumping in. A lot of what you say focuses on successful entrepreneurs, which as we both know, is a small subset of entrepreneurs, with failed or mediocre being the largest. I’ve worked with plenty of mediocre entrepreneurs, who have generated millions of dollars and employed many people, but when it came time to turn the corner and make the key decisions to turn modest revenue into extreme, major implosions resulted. It wasn’t arrogance that caused that, but rather fear. It was the fear of having to give up a fair amount, in order to succeed, among other… Read more »
MarcGirolimetti
MarcGirolimetti
4 years 8 months ago

@Liz ahhhh the poor SM gurus. They are taking quite the beating these days.

MarcGirolimetti
MarcGirolimetti
4 years 8 months ago

@John Falchetto John, whenever I run into jerks I re-enact this most awesome movie scene. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tcwz8-EfFYE Try it. It works.

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