Be Honest: Are You a Blanche DuBois Type Entrepreneur?
I have always depended on the kindness of strangers. – Blanche DuBois, A Streetcar Named Desire
Let’s take a look at the main differences between true entrepreneurs and the Blanche DuBois type wannabes.
True entrepreneurs are very resourceful by nature. Once they make the decision to proceed with a new venture they immediately shift their focus to how they can move forward with whatever resources happen to be at hand. One of the reasons that they are able to start making progress immediately is because there’s always something you can do to move forward. Always. You just have to be on the lookout for it.
In contrast, the Blanche DuBois entrepreneurial wannabes come up with an idea, maybe write a business plan and estimate of how much money they will need to implement it, and then sit down and wait and wait and wait some more for a kind stranger to come along and drop $50k, $500k, or $5 million into their laps.
True entrepreneurs understand that if they are to eventually raise capital they need to first prove their mettle to potential investors. They understand that entrepreneurship is a long series of tests that basically never stop coming. So they dive into passing each one as quickly as possible. In the rodeo game there’s an old saying, “Screw the form, go for the horn.” This means that you don’t worry how you look getting to the goal so long as you get to it.
Meanwhile, the Blanche DuBois don’t like being tested. Indeed they want to avoid being tested as much as is possible. Being tested is stressful, you see. So they convince themselves that their lives will be stress-free if a kind stranger first gives them the money that they need. Then they will be able to immediately start paying themselves a nice salary as CEO and perhaps even get a new car that is more in keeping with their new job title. Talk to them and they tell you that attempting to start before the money comes would be hard on their systems.
True entrepreneurs put in the effort to understand how the capital game works. They have a good understand of what types of deals are of interest to potential investors. More importantly, they understand what types of businesses investors are not interested in. Specifically they know that investors are not interested in financing lifestyle businesses whose real purpose is to provide the founder with a steady pay-check instead of making all the shareholders rich.
The Blanche DuBois are clueless about the different types of businesses and which ones investors back. They don’t understand that investors can spot a lifestyle entrepreneur from a quarter-mile away.
True entrepreneurs, if asked to do so, can identify the most likely investors to back them. If they can’t identify which specific individuals are likely to give them checks, they can at least identify the local angel investor chapter or club where they are likely to be found.
The Blanche DuBois are clueless about who might fund them so they rely on the two absolute worst methods for attracting investors. They simply post their needs online and occasionally take the extra step of emailing an unsolicited copy of their business plan to a few websites.
True entrepreneurs go out into the real world to interact and socialize with others in their ecosystem including investors, and venture capitalists, and other entrepreneurs. They do so for two important reasons: one is to learn more about how the game of business is played and to cultivate relationships and trust with investors ahead of time.
The Blanche DuBois can’t be bothered to do all this. They need the money first. All that other stuff will follow. So they limit their efforts on behalf of both building their businesses and capital raising efforts to posting their needs online in such places as Linkedin Groups. Some have been doing so for years without any progress being made.
True entrepreneurs who find themselves not making any progress with investors will rightfully conclude that the problem lies with them and not with the investors. They will then request honest feedback on what they are doing wrong.
The Blanche DuBois will never do the same. Instead they will get angry with investors and accuse them of being “too stupid” to recognize what a fabulous opportunity their startup happens to be.
Be honest about which category you fall into currently. No one is born knowing this stuff. If you belong to the Blanche DuBois type who thinks that someone will give them money simply because they happen to need it, it’s time to admit to yourself that you have some learning to do.
The good news is that there has never been more information out there on how the game is played successfully.
How not to raise seed capital
Finally, many Blanch DuBois types come across like this to investors. Don’t be like them.
This short video reveals in a humorous manner the big turn-offs for investors:
-wild unsubstantiated claims about your project’s potential.
-impatience with the trust building process.
-obliviousness to how capital is really raised.
-over reliance on business plans, Powerpoints, and elevator pitches.
If you’re not getting any bites from real investors, it’s probably you not them. You are the problem. Something is missing from your offer. Most likely, it’s a lack of track record.
Take advantage of the super (almost) 2fer front page special and solve your financing problems.
Thank you for the laugh! This is so true based on my 14 years in accounting and consulting. Some people just don’t want to learn. The only point you missed about the Blanches of the world is that they can become quite indignant should you dare to suggest that they pay for the expertise of those who could help them to quickly turn things around.
Some people will just never get it.
Very timely and helpful article! We’d appreciate any feedback anyone might care to give us on our vision which is presented at http://www.iagewell.com.
I confess that I’ve been hoping that our mission would appeal to some venture philanthropist who understands how devastating Alzheimer’s is for caregivers.
Can you give us some pointers on what smaller steps we can take to keep moving forward?
Funny but true. Investors should take some responsibility for this attitude, though. Not because they are turning down these types, but for throwing boatloads of money at ideas that could never fly. That provides enablement for the already robust sense of entitlement that Blanches possess. Heck, it even makes some true entrepreneurs ponder the possibility of just talking their way into capital.
Great question, and very funny video — I had a good laugh (in a New York “grimsmirk” kind of way)!
But what about we poor entrepreneur/inventor types that have spent every last cent in protecting, promotions, submissions, club fees etc. and still get short shrift because even though our invention could have a vital effect in health care, it is not “glamorous” nor high-tech, so it doesn’t get considered?
The companies that claim to be able to help us, want thousands of dollars which we don’t have, and can’t guarantee to make deals for us either! If they really believed in our product, maybe they could partner with us by taking equity, which most of us would readily give!
We have probably seen the same people on these sites. I have seen a few who can’t think of anything better to do than to beg others to vote for their companies on sites where startups are rated based on a 25 word description. If you have sunk this low it’s time to reconsider entrepreneur goals and think about looking for a job.
A well written little ditty to say the least. Forgive my language, but I call this ‘pissing in the VC pool’. It’s the Blanches that make it more difficult for real, viable startups to get funded. “Once bitten, twice shy” applies here. Bringing an idea from paper to reality in one easy step is unrealistic, even if you work for an R&D company. It’s one thing to utilize all of your resources and get further along on your own before seeking help to advance a project. It’s entirely different to attempt to fly without earning your wings first.
Excellent! My other favorite is Wimpy, “I’ll pay you tomorrow for a hamburger today!” I often tell entrepreneurs you must date before you get in bed. Also, many great resources on bootstrapping including @pitch_doctor on Twitter. Paul Grahams info is solid too. Entrepreneurs need to see the angel/VC/super as the customer and focus on the biz model, customer acquisition, TAM et al. Money is not the issue. As Steve Jobs says, “Ideas are the bobby prize.” Best of luck to all of you. Judy Robinett, Managing Director Golden Seeds. @judyrobinett
ahahaha. I think I just died of laughter. You forgot the other place entrepreneurs can look for money – trees.
Liked the article. Involved with a startup right now, see the website if your interested. I am doing a energy product that also has focus and weighloss in its arsenal.
I’m going to ask for money on this one because there is so much opportunity with a variety of projects I am working on that need funding. Sometimes I am making decisions from a “scared” perspective, and as a lifelong entrepreneur I know that is NOT the way to make good decisions.Thanks for the read.