Three phrases that drive entrepreneurs nuts

When you’re deep in the trenches, these are often heard phrases, which if you don’t take with a little humor, can drive you nuts:

  1. “Why don’t you just…” This also crops up under variations such as: “What you need to do is…”. To me, this one implies that you aren’t doing something obvious, and that obvious thing is simple to execute. This phrase is most uttered by current MBAs who just read a case study, or management consultants.
  2. “That was my [friend/aunt/cousin’s] idea…” Now I don’t mean this as they actually started a business, more that they had a tangentially related idea in the shower, or over beers, and never did anything with it….Kind of like how I “thought of” LinkedIn in 2001.
  3. “Since you work for yourself, can’t you take today off?” Uttered by those who don’t understand your internal sense of urgency driven both internally (your desire to change the world), or externally (customers, competitors, or distaste of Ramen noodles).

Intentional Omissions

  • “That’ll never work” Contrary to what you may think, this doesn’t get me upset, instead it gets me fired up. I think a lot of entrepreneurs have a bit of chip on their shoulder, or something to prove (in addition to wanting to change the world, of course), which enables this phrase to serve as an extra kick of inspiration.
  • “Why didn’t I think of that?” While you could view this as trivializing your invention, I see this one as the highest forms of flattery. Usually this happens after the “this will never work” time, so to make this a natural, and “obvious” innovation.

What we say to ourselves…
This is a list of phrases I find me and my colleagues saying to each other over and over again, when things are tough.

  • “It is what it is” The acceptance that “stuff happens”. Daily life can be like a rollercoaster, and if you get too caught up in the highs and lows, you’ll be a basket case.
  • “Pay to learn” If you take an analytical, or test driven approach, to understanding your product-market fit, and sales channels, you will undoubtedly have more mini-failures than successes. This is all part of the process.
  • “If it were easy everyone would do it” My all-time favorite line, which signals “hey, we’re doing something important here. It’s not going to be an overnight success”.

Of course, there is always the standard “you can do it!” kind of stuff but I honestly don’t know anyone who’s been at it a long time that still thinks that holds any water in of itself…well, except for these guys:

What are some phrases you love to hate?

1 comment

  1. hi rishi – I have one…

    “That is a great idea – but how come the big guys have not figured that out already?” Usually referring to your idea/project as an innovative no- brainer.

    Is usually followed by…”well what is going to stop the big guys from replicating it and eating your lunch?” I just shrug my shoulders, smile and say “I guess I will deal with it happens”.

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