Lessons From an Entrepreneur

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Key developments in my life lately have given me pause to explore some important lessons I have picked up along the way and to reflect on my ability to learn! I ask myself often how come I keep repeating the same mistakes! I am not unique in this deficiency though I find. I look into the decisions of those I frequently consult with, who themselves might be giving me all the good advise and alas, they are continuously falling into the trap as well! I’d say these are pretty straightforward and some might say intuitive lessons. So why is it such a trap? Do share your own experience with me as you read along and perhaps how you have handled your own situation, and do point out if they are even lessons worth noting.
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My journey into entrepreneurship was never a teetering one. I am one of those people who just knew what I wanted to do and did it. What teetered though, was the journey itself, wroth with the surprisingly huge bumps, mountains, valleys and traps. I hold fast to Winston Churchill’s assertion that “success is walking from failure to failure without loosing enthusiasm”. I have done many things right. ‘Good to great’ gave me some good principles to stand by. By nature, I am an interesting mixture of fox and hedgehog and oh, did I mention that I spend a surprising amount of time buried in the hole I myself dug?

First lesson! Whether you just started your business or you have been going at it for some time, IT IS NOT THE TERRAIN FOR YOUR BFF’S OF FF’S, my favorite term for friends and family. I often wish someone had pointed this out to me at the very beginning, perhaps, I would have speared myself tons of distress. The saying that ‘people do business with people they know,’ I guess takes its roots from here! Most people start their business with limited resources; therefore, falling on this group of your base comes naturally; but this very group that might seem readily available, might prove to be the death of your effort if one doesn’t take the time to think through the structure of the involvement and set a time to fade it out when it has served its purpose. The pros and cons of this point has been debated countless times, and it seems to lose water, especially when you are looking to pass on your efforts to the next generation. How then do you navigate the thin line between picking that person you can possible trust and pass on your efforts to and making a mistake which could possibly cost you everything you worked for. Too many times, I have seen entrepreneurs — me included — get wrapped up and possibly destroyed, because they made a wrong decision to involve their friends and or family in their work. The very atmosphere needed for work to progress — order, structure, attention to details, high productivity, accountability etc. — these are the things that may be counter to the relationship with your friends and family.

YOU ARE THE BOSS: never break that barrier! The terrain of entrepreneurship can be a hard and very lonely one. Soon, you run out of friends who really appreciate your peculiar challenges. You bore people, because all you can seem to talk about is your business. You may find one or two people at the workplace who are switched on and who seem to be quite loyal to you. You begin to laugh at the same things, finishing each other sentences, sharing a few personal details, and perhaps a friendship is formed. I struggle quite a bit with this important opportunity that can happen in the work place. The reasons to form friendships in the office far outweigh the disadvantages. Alas, as the boss, there are lines you do not cross. This line might be set individually, but the principle holds. Not surprisingly, I have made this mistake many, many times… and this is the one mistake I am almost certain I will repeat!

LEARN TO GIVE THE SACK! This is the most difficult, especially if you haven’t adhered to the previous two points. As a very personal point, there are times in my business when I have had my mother or another such close family go. I shouldn’t have had them there in the first place! Without prejudice, women tend to fall into this trap more often. Just the other day, one of my closest friend who runs a business said to me, “I need to sack two guys, but I can’t. I just can’t. I feel like I am betraying them!” This particular condition is like a sore. And it does all of that mess too! It poisons the area in over a mile radius, and then, it leaves a mark! There are a few famous sayings, ‘If someone shows you who they are, believe them!’ and ‘You can’t teach an old dog, new tricks’. Don’t kid yourself! Especially low performers, will very rarely over-perform, though the opposite seems to be driven by nature itself! If your gut or judgment, whichever you listen to, tells you it is time for this one to go, it is time for them to go!

I stand by this one; FIND SOMETHING THAT MAKES YOU STUPID, SILLY, IDIOTIC, SWEATY, AND BEST OF ALL, SCREAM!

To be continued…

Follow Juliet Asante on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/Juliet Asante

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One response »

  1. I had a pretty bad experience with family (one of them) where business was concerned. … eventually i had to let go and move on. I suffered the consequences and learnt my lesson! I’m sure if it was an ordinary person i would have dragged the case to the police … Moving on, ‘i walk my walk’. I mind my personal business when it has to do with my work.

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