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9 Lessons Learned: My Year As A Wantrepreneur

The awesome guys over at Appsumo coined the term wantrepreneur to describe someone that wants to be an entrepreneur, and does everything wrong to get there. Like buying business cards and getting an LLC and investing in merchandise before even knowing if people are actually willing to buy what you have to sell.

Although I totally understand now why wantreprenuerism is definitely the wrong way to do things, I do think it is an inevitable first step.

Here are a few things I learned in my year of transition from want to entre-prenuer:

    1. Its normal to be a wantrepreur, it’s a necessary step. Every successful person you idolize has been there. Dreaming of getting out of their job. Non-stop ideas. I could do this, I could sell that. And never doing anything about it because there are too many ideas, or not enough and the unknown is preventing you from moving forward. Enjoy it. Because the hard work comes later. But the hard work is the most fun, and the most rewarding. If you’re there right now, know that it will pass. Once you’ve decided to go out on your own, there is nothing stopping you. It will happen. But this inevitable first phase is necessary to plant the seeds in your brain that you don’t have another choice, you have to do ‘this’. The moment you know you have to do ‘this’ is the moment you are no longer a wantrepreneur and will do the actual real work it takes to make it happen.
    2. The first idea (or 20) will not be the one you end up with in a year. I went from wanting to teach French people about kettlebells, to making adsense websites, to selling super large beach towels, to selling marketing services before I discovered web design. The awesome part is because of all that (needing to make a website for those things) I was lead to what I do now, make websites. You can’t just pick a thing and that will be it. It will come naturally, through all your failed or successful or never started ideas.
    3. Its really easy to sell stuff on the internet. Scared of all the technical stuff? Think websites with paypal buttons are super advanced? Its not hard. Google it, put the button up, or find someone who can do it for you. Sell something, anything. (Or better yet, hire me to build you a website so you can just get started already)
    4. Make lists, tons of lists. Until I started making lists, I was a crazy mess. Too many things swirling through my head and nothing to stop the madness. Until I started making lists. Write down every idea, every thing to do. It doesn’t have to make sense, most of it you will never look at. But getting it out of your brain and on to paper is a magical thing. Eventually you will learn to prioritize/organize/analyse your lists- but get it all out first.
    5. Learn something, sell it. Period. It can be hit or miss. But at least there is one more thing to check off your lists and not have to think about again. One thing more you realized you don’t love that you don’t have to try again. Or better yet, you’ll find a new career. You can’t just sit around thinking you have nothing to give. If you don’t think you do, then learn something. It doesn’t take a 4-year degree anymore, it took me less than 6 months.
    6. You may not be the best out there, you may not have a degree, but you are definitely better at it than the majority. And someone will pay you for that.
    7. It will never be perfect. Your website won’t be perfect, your copy won’t be perfect, your design or your photographs won’t be perfect. Most people don’t notice and most people don’t care.
    8. Test, test, test. Don’t wait around wasting time thinking about your idea. Get something out there, see the response, then decide if you should put more time/effort/money into it.
    9. Your friends and family will think you’re crazy. Who cares?! Get over it.




Leah Kalamakis Leah Kalamakis is the founder of The Freelance To Freedom Project and a web designer/developer for brilliant entrepreneurs. When she’s not hanging out in the FTF Community, you can find her people watching on the streets of NYC. Come say hi on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook.

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{ 4 comments… add one }
  • Thanks for sharing Leah. I think I went through each of these lessons when starting my business. I particularly like lesson 5 as I believe this is the biggest barrier for new freelancers. Acquire a skill then start helping people!

  • This is a great post! I definitely think I’m on the tail end of the “wantrepeneur” phase, hoping to shake some of that stuff off! Great to hear tips from someone who got out of it! May I ask what tools you used to train yourself in web design? I’ve been doing mostly Treehouse, Lynda and Skillshare.

  • Thank you so much for this! I’m only in my 3rd week of this craziness and you hit all of the things that are stressing me out. Glad to see that it is normal! Thank you!

  • You’re my hero! I went through the motions quickly, but that’s probably because of the ADHD 😀 – My business model changed over night and vastly expanded even though I haven’t put it to use yet. (waiting on a few obstacles to fix themselves). Got a crap load in the pipeworks though. one pipe fails the rest supply the liquid. Thanks for the read 😀 (ps my website is not up yet, but i don’t think I can afford you lol.)

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