I take exception to many of the questions in the list created by Seth Kravitz in Matt Leeburn’s recent article, “Entrepreneurship: Do you have what it takes? (A warts-and-all checklist.)” In my opinion, entrepreneurs would have to be crazy to go into business with attitudes like these. Considering myself an entrepreneur after building and selling four businesses and now working on my fifth, I have a different take on this list. See below.
1. I am willing to lose everything.
I’m not willing to lose everything, but willing to do whatever it takes not to allow that to happen.
2. I embrace failure.
I hate failure, but I’m willing to keep trying until I succeed.
3. I am always willing to do tedious work.
I hate doing tedious work, but willing to do tedious work until I have successfully developed my business so I don’t need to do it anymore.
4. I can handle watching my dreams fall apart.
A dream can never fall apart. Any negative results are merely setbacks to learn from and then continue on your cause with greater resolve.
5. Even if I am puking my guts out with the flu and my mother passed away last week, there is nothing that will keep me from being ready to work.
If I can’t stay in bed if I have the flu and have to go to work instead, my business must be more gravely ill than I am. It needs to go to hospital for major surgery.
6. My relationship/marriage is so strong, nothing work related could ever damage it.
If I loved my business more than I love my wife, how valued would that make her feel? In the past thirty years I have had five businesses and only one wife (and after all those years the relationship is stronger than ever). If you put your business first, perhaps that’s why those figures are often reversed.
7. My family doesn’t need an income.
If my business can’t support me and my family, it needs fixing or finishing off. If you don’t make demands on your business, it will make demands on you. Too many entrepreneurs get this wrong.
8. This is a connected world and I don’t need alone time. I want to be reachable 24/7 by my employees, customers, and business partners.
I want my business to work for me and not be a slave to my business. I want a life and my business needs to support the lifestyle I want. Yes, there are times you have to put yourself out in the early stages and work hard to get your business into the shape it needs to be in to work for you. But too many entrepreneurs settle for less than they should.
9. I like instability and I live for uncertainty.
I aim to set-up my business to supply a stable and certain level of cashflow as soon as possible.
10. I don’t need a vacation for years at a time.
Taking time out from the business helps me recharge the batteries and come back refreshed and more productive. Creating a goal to take a vacation twice a year enforces you to create a business that works without you. There’s no need to be a slave to the business if you learn to put it on autopilot.
11. I accept that not everyone likes my ideas and that it’s quite likely that many of my ideas are garbage.
OK. I’ll give you that one.
12. If I go into business with friends or family, I am OK with losing that relationship forever if things end badly.
It’s a pretty bad idea to go into business with friends or family at any time. If you value the relationship, don’t even think about it.
13. I don’t have existing anxiety issues and I handle stress with ease.
If you want to change this, start your own business. Your business has the potential to forever keep you awake at night. You need to get your business under control and working as you want it, if you want to sleep easy and well.
14. I am willing to fire or layoff anyone no matter how good a friend they are, if they are my own sibling, if they just had a baby, if they have worked with me for 20 years, if their spouse also just lost their job, if I know they might end up homeless, if they have cancer but no outside medical insurance, or any other horrible scenario millions of bosses and HR people have faced countless times.
Wow. What’s that you have in the place where your heart should be? Unless the person has done something illegal or maliciously damaging to the business, I think I’d work harder to fix the business to try to keep them than get rid of them in those circumstances.
15. I am OK with being socially cut-off and walking away from my friends when work beckons.
I’d rather get a life.
16. I love naysayers and I won’t explode or give-up when a family member, friend, customer, business associate, partner or anyone for that matter tells me my idea, product or service is a terrible idea, a waste of time, will never work or that I must be a moron.
It’s good to listen to advice from any source, but then seek the counsel of the ones who are informed and trusted before making your own decision. You’d better also develop a thick skin pretty quickly though, because the ill-informed seem to be pretty free with their unwanted advice.
17. I accept the fact that I can do everything right, can work 70 hours a week for years, can hire all the right people, can arrange amazing business deals, and still lose everything in a flash due to something out of my control.
I can’t argue with that one.
18. I accept that I may hire people that are much better at my job than I am and I will get out of their way.
Why “may?” That should be your aim.
19. I realise and accept that I am wrong ten times more than I am right.
This may be true, but if you believe this, you may be too afraid to make any decisions or take action with any confidence.
20. I am willing to walk away if it doesn’t work out.
Fail fast and fail often, but learn from your failures and keep going while you can. There is a time to walk away. But don’t give up too soon. Many people quit when all seems lost, but when the next step would have led them to success. Too many entrepreneurs fail because they work hard on the wrong things. Sometimes you need someone else to point you in the right direction to turn everything around.
Photo: Paul Allsop