Monday, January 23, 2012

Entrepreneurial wisdom

Many people dream about starting their own business. No more inflexible working hours, or interfering boss! The chance to finally do things MY WAY!
Sara and I had this dream for 8 years, and we brought in into full-time reality in 1993, when we ran the Business Leadership Forum: USA (Executive Education Program for Central European Business Leaders) programs in Florida.

We loved running our own business, but found that there were some unexpected developments in being entrepreneurs!
  1. We were our own bosses, true, but we now had dozens of other bosses as well--our customers, our partners and our volunteers. Their needs and wishes became our priority.
  2. Instead of evaluating our work performance by checking off a concise list of tasks and responsibilities on a job description, we had to do it all. Whatever needed to be done, we did ourselves or found someone to do for us.
  3. There was no paycheck coming in regularly. If we needed money, we had to find ways to bring it into our business--through customer payments, loans, savings, new products, lines of credit, grants and any other creative ways we could muster up.
  4. Since we were marriage and business partners, we had no leisure. Every waking minute was spent talking about, thinking about, and working in our business. We tried to fence off times of recreation, but invariably, the pressures and commitments of our business intruded into our tiny "personal life" space.
  5. We had a limited social life. Our family and friends didn't want to hear about our business all the time, and we were so absorbed in work that we had almost no other interests to share with them. Our time and money was so stretched that we could scarcely afford the kind of relaxed pace that family and friends expect in social activities. What time we could spend away from the business was spent in making new contacts, recruiting new customers and planning the next five years.
The lessons we learned in the 4 years we worked full-time (with no other jobs or income in our Institute were the most valuable lessons of a lifetime. We traded theory for facts in all areas of running a business: human resources, finance, logistics, marketing, customer relations, planning, public relations, etc. It was like getting an MBA, except for real--our case studies were not intellectual exercises, they were actual problems we had to solve to stay in business!

So when it comes to working for yourself, we could write a book! Hmm..our publishing house could publish and market it, maybe as an ebook...

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