This is the first business stage used to assign articles in the collection. “Thinking” of starting a business is subtly, but importantly, different than “dreaming” of starting a business. The common ground between both situations is that the entrepreneur has identified a problem that they believe they can solve, and probably do it better than anyone else. It has been estimated that half of all employees think (really dream) about starting a business. Add to that total stay-at-home moms, college students, and even kids with Kool-Aid stands, and the number gets much larger. Perhaps the kids with Kool-Aid stands shouldn’t be included in the total, because they actually have started their businesses!
The difference between “dreaming” and “thinking” about starting a business is the actual mental activities of the entrepreneur. The dreamers think in terms of “Wouldn’t it be great if…” and share that dream with others who, probably over a beer or cocktail, readily agree. The next thought they have might be about their boss, or next football game, or what they will do over the weekend. In many cases, their fundamental motivation may be to run AWAY from their current situation instead of running TO a new opportunity. News media hype about the millionaires and billionaires who were “overnight” successes (that really took ten or twenty years) can be another motivator, unrealistic as it might be.
Would-be entrepreneurs who are “thinking” about starting a business begin to add some level of optimistic planning to their dream. Instead of using terms like “If we can…” and “Wouldn’t it be great,” they begin to think about the realities and even the high-level steps that they will need to take to begin operations. Their discussions with others occur at a different level. They want to talk to their friends and family about details and focus on explaining why their idea is so good, and how they will become an overnight success. If these thinkers focused on, or even knew about, the many challenges that they would face or worse, wrote them down in one multi-page list, they would give up or go back to dreaming.
The articles included in this, the thinking stage, are intended to provide spoon-size doses of reality to an entrepreneur as they think through their plan. Quite simply, the goal is to curtail their handwaving about their idea, put their hands in their pockets, begin to think about the details, and understand what they really want to do, why they want to do it, and the commitment that it will take.