Entrepreneurialism: A Blessing or a Curse?
I have a streak of entrepreneurialism in me. It started as a kid and manifested itself by selling baseball cards to my friends, doing yard work in my neighborhood, and selling junk food at my high school. Some ventures went well (junk food to high schoolers), some did not (baseball cards to grammar school friends). Then something odd happened; the entrepreneur in me went dormant…for about 10 years, then I met Brent Morrison, and it came rushing back over the last 10 years.
As I look back now over this period of time, I can say with certainty that there have been times when I have been eternally grateful to have this desire as part of my core and other times when I have cursed its very existence. No matter really, because it’s a part of me, and I can’t shake it even if I wanted to, so I’m working now on acknowledging its existence and finding ways to best ‘manage’ myself knowing it’s there.
Now some of you may know that I have a houseful of kids – four between the ages of 3-10. As they grow and develop, it’s always curious to me how their interests and talents show themselves. A week ago, we were driving home from time with some family friends. Their family has three kids, ages one to six. My daughter, Abby, instantly glammed onto the little girl four years her junior and proceeded to demonstrate some of Abby’s water color painting techniques. The other mom was impressed and offered to pay Abby to teach her daughter other arts and crafts lessons. My wife and I laughed it off, but the mom was sincere and pressed the issue – I looked at Abby and could tell immediately that wheels were starting to turn in her little head. She left the area and went for a little walk outside the group. I knew what she was doing; I’ve been there myself many times.
On the way home, Abby started firing off questions and ideas:
- What should the first lesson be? Crayons? More watercolors?
- How long should a lesson for a 4-year-old be? 15 minutes? 20 minutes? Maybe start short and see if we could extend the time…
- How much should I charge? Maybe I should give the first lesson for free?
- How often should the lessons be? Weekly? Bi-weekly?
- Were there other families who might be interested in art lessons too? How can the word be spread?
And on and on…
In my family, and my extended family for that matter, my entrepreneurialism is tucked away, because it’s not something I share with anyone else…until the drive home that night. Of course, she had no idea what she was doing, but Abby was essentially mapping out a business plan in a way only an 8-year-old could. Part of me wanted to pull the car over, get her out of her seat, wrap my arms around her and tell her that this would be something unique she and Daddy would share and that if she managed it correctly, it would be one of her life’s greatest fulfillments. The other half of me wanted to pull the car over, get her out of her seat, wrap my arms around her and whisper in her ear how sorry I was and that if she didn’t manage this correctly, it would consume her time, her energy, and her focus.
As I walk alongside our client’s businesses, I am often surprised in the personal and emotional connection I make with those who are entrepreneurs - not just business owners or managers/executives. There is something that separates entrepreneurs and if you’re one, you understand and if you’re not, any attempted explanation would be lacking.
Being an entrepreneur is a double edged sword – it works for you and against you. It can consume your every waking moment (and even your dreams), your energy, and your time. It can also provide great life fulfillment and be a source of energy in your life. Entrepreneurs will understand what I’m saying here, and they will also know the highs and lows of both extremes. Seasoned entrepreneurs will probably also have a sense of personal awareness and be better at managing this phenomenon, but that only comes after many highs and many lows.
So if you are an entrepreneur, first know, there are others out there (and a crop of more to come), and start accepting that part of you. There’s no use trying to shake something innate. Manage it well, describe it the best you can to those around you who don’t share it, and appreciate the ride that each high/low cycle brings…knowing that another cycle is just around the bend.
About the Author
Geoff Chinnock is a consultant with Morrison, working primarily in our Business & Accounting Advisory practice. To get in touch with Geoff, please find contact information for Morrison here.