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Monday, October 25, 2010


The Over-Caffeinated Entrepreneur with David J. Dunworth

Entrepreneurs are an interesting group of individuals; they think a bit differently than most folks. Often single handedly they dream up an idea, move it to the tangible stage and beyond. Should there be other considerations when moving from step one to future stages in the entrepreneurial quest?

-What about the spouse?
-How will Your actions impact Their life?

-Will the significant other help or hinder the entrepreneurial process?

These are often questions that don’t get asked at all, and if they do, they are late in coming. Even if the entrepreneur is single, there must be someone in his/her life that matters. It could be grandma, a cousin, a good friend or teacher; someone in the entrepreneur’s life will be affected by the decisions that are made.

Heads or Tails.
The entrepreneur’s decision making process must be transparent to whose paths they cross. Why, you say? Simply put, it’s about security, sanity and the future (if you want to have one together). The decision making process is much more than a flip of the coin. In my book, The Entrepreneur’s Bill of Rights, I talk about the relationships that an entrepreneur has with his immediate family, those in the industry, community activities attendees and peers. All of these people will be affected in some way by the actions (or inaction) of the entrepreneur.

Remember taking a vow to do things together, whether for better or for worse? Well, becoming an entrepreneur is one of those issues that need to be addressed. You may think that taking a risk with your future IS your decision, but believe me, you are incorrect in your thinking.

Scar Tissue Advice: Decision making in a vacuum is the wrong thing to do. I am a divorcee as a result of one-sided thinking. Do not ignore the impact your decisions will have on those involved in your life. No matter how you think your family will benefit from your ideas, consult interested parties before action, not after. I made a financial decision regarding a business venture without seeking the advice or approval from my spouse, and after the venture failed I not only lost my investment, I put my family’s future at risk. Not a good thing, believe me.

Child’s Play. How do the kids feel about dad (or mom) always being at work? Their thoughts may not become verbalized, but they are there none the less. You told them you were going into business for yourself so that you could spend more family time, be able to come and go as you please, etc. Now you are missing dinner together, not present at their soccer games, recitals and other activities they may have, yet you chalk it up to “investing time now for a better life later.” Stop fooling yourself, because you are not fooling them. Your kids picked up on the BS a long time ago.

Riddle Me This. Your peers in the local community never hear from you exactly how things are going; things are just fine. At least that is what you tell them, regardless of how things really are. An entrepreneur never admits defeat, difficulty or dismay; doing so would magnify one’s weaknesses. They just can’t figure out why you are never available for a relaxing afternoon of golf, or why you seem so tense all of the time. You know what they say about the truth: If the truth hurts, it’s supposed to. So we avoid it at all costs, lest we be looked on as merely human, and not the super entrepreneur we keep telling ourselves we are. Instead of the truth, we decide to mask it with a generalized statement of, “everything’s just fine.” Nothing can be further from the truth.

Help or Hurt. Will full disclosure keep you from your entrepreneurial dreams? Maybe, maybe not, but keeping it to yourself will definitely hurt in the long run. I am not recommending working hand in hand with every family member, close friend or peer, but what I am recommending is that you be honest and open with them. Keeping secrets will not help under any circumstances. Working with a spouse or family member can be very rewarding for some, but not for all. It takes a special individual to not only share a home and family but to spend the working hours together as well. If you are blessed enough to be able to be together, side by side 24/7; I applaud you.

Bad One-Man-Theater. Even if you are a one person team, you will need a critic or two along the way, so you may as well develop a team of advisors to keep you in check. The Monte Python Players knew this well before I got into business for myself, and it will do you well to develop a critic group for critique. Those in you immediate life will have opinions that will maintain their personal safety and life style, but it should also be balanced with some professional input. A business coach, a Board of Advisors, a mastermind group, or some other organized mechanism to check and balance your activity will serve you well. I would recommend that you create a group with your CPA, Attorney, Banker, Spouse and a couple of customers to meet with regularly. You will benefit in ways too many to cover here, but you will benefit from many heads focusing on your business and your decision making.

What I can assure you of is this: You will be more successful with their support rather than keeping them in the dark. In the darkness, things take a shape and gravity of their own. What in the light is a minor setback, investment or risk, the dark magnifies it into one of those green eyed monsters, and there is no slaying the green eyed monster. It’s just bad one-man-theater.

For more information, please visit David's TNNWC Bio.

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Bill Downey said...

A thoughtful and accurate posting. Too many times decisions are made ignoring those that are most directly impacted.
I was fortunate that I was able to work my schedule around family most of the time, but still missed a lot of my son's growing up and important events. Issues I greatly regret today.
Communication and participation is the key both in business and family, and although I hate the term balance is essential.
Bill Downey

Chuck said...

Good points, David. I've always been open and communicate things honestly, perhaps too much so. There's a balance that should be strived for, in my experience.

In today's world, the time demands of an occupation, whether as an entrepreneur or an employee are huge. Gone are the 9-5 days of leaving work behind at the office for most people with a profession, so I think your views on time-demands also overlap into the world of those who work for others.

For myself, I've never considered myself to really have a strong "entrepreneurial spirt", so much as working for myself by necessity. By that I mean that I consider myself "unemployable" by most standards. Most employers have had a hard time putting up with me, and I have had a harder time putting up with them.

Employer/employee "loyalty" is a thing of the past, so we're all entrepreneurs in some ways. It's just a matter of whose hands you are comfortable in placing your present and your future.

So while you make excellent points, I feel that they apply more broadly to the professional workforce in general in todays world and economy, than to your indication of them applying to entrepreneurs.

Great job of identifying & discussing key issues.


Chuck Reaney

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