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Mackiewicz, M. (2022). Why do wantrepreneurs fail to take actions? moderators of the link between intentions and entrepreneurial actions at the early stage of venturing. Quality &Amp; Quantity, 57(1), 323-344.



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The Wantrepreneur Paradox: When Aspiring Entrepreneurs Fail to Launch

In the world of entrepreneurship, there exists a curious breed of individuals known as "wantrepreneurs" – those who harbor dreams of starting their own business but perpetually fail to take concrete steps toward realizing that goal. These aspiring entrepreneurs find themselves stuck in a limbo between intention and action, their ambitions forever simmering on the back burner.

While the phenomenon of wantrepreneurship has long been recognized in popular culture and motivational literature, it has received surprisingly little rigorous scientific analysis. However, a recent study by Michał Mackiewicz of the University of Lodz in Poland sheds new light on this understudied group, revealing insights that challenge conventional wisdom about the entrepreneurial journey.

Mackiewicz argues that wantrepreneurs represent a distinct stage on the continuum from non-entrepreneur to full-fledged business owner. By focusing on this intermediary phase, where individuals remain poised on the precipice of entrepreneurship for extended periods, researchers can gain a more nuanced understanding of the mechanisms that drive the creation of new ventures.

The study, which involved in-depth interviews with a diverse sample of wantrepreneurs, uncovered several key findings that illuminate the paradox of unrealized entrepreneurial potential. Perhaps most strikingly, Mackiewicz found that wantrepreneurs typically have a clear vision of the type of business they want to start and the role they envision it playing in their lives. Contrary to the notion that aspiring entrepreneurs simply need to "find their passion," the wantrepreneurs in the study had already identified specific business ideas and models.

However, despite this clarity of vision, the wantrepreneurs consistently struggled to articulate concrete action plans for bringing their ideas to fruition. Their intentions remained abstract and unbound by timelines or milestones, making it all too easy to defer action indefinitely. This lack of structured planning, Mackiewicz suggests, may be a critical factor in the failure of wantrepreneurs to launch.

The study also shed light on the learning processes that wantrepreneurs engage in as they contemplate the leap into entrepreneurship. Aspiring business owners often immerse themselves in a sea of online content – blogs, videos, podcasts – in an effort to acquire the knowledge and skills they believe they need. However, Mackiewicz found a striking divide in the type of information sought. Some wantrepreneurs focused on high-level, motivational content, while others sought out highly specific, technical advice. The latter group, the study suggests, may be more likely to eventually take concrete steps toward starting a business.

Perhaps most intriguingly, the study challenges the assumption that wantrepreneurs are simply "idea people" who lack the drive to follow through. In fact, many of the interviewed wantrepreneurs had already made small but significant moves toward realizing their vision, such as developing prototypes or reaching out to potential customers. This suggests that the line between wantrepreneurship and active entrepreneurship is blurrier than often assumed.

So what can be done to help wantrepreneurs cross the chasm from dreaming to doing? Mackiewicz's findings suggest that interventions focused on fostering structured action planning could be pivotal. By encouraging aspiring entrepreneurs to break down their goals into specific, time-bound steps, we may be able to catalyze the transition from intention to action.

The study also highlights the potential power of commitment devices in the entrepreneurial context. Just as individuals might publicly announce a goal to hold themselves accountable, wantrepreneurs who make even small investments of time or money into their venture may be more likely to follow through, having "skin in the game."

Ultimately, the paradox of the wantrepreneur reminds us that the journey of entrepreneurship is rarely a straight line from idea to execution. It is a path riddled with psychological hurdles, knowledge gaps, and planning pitfalls. By shining a light on the liminal space of wantrepreneurship, Mackiewicz's study offers valuable insights for aspiring business owners and those who seek to support them.

In a world where entrepreneurial dynamism is increasingly vital to economic growth and resilience, unlocking the potential of the wantrepreneur may be a hidden key. By understanding the unique challenges and opportunities of this overlooked stage of the entrepreneurial process, we can develop more effective interventions and support systems. In doing so, we may help a new generation of dreamers become doers, turning their passion into reality and their ideas into the innovations of tomorrow.

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