Each month in this column series I ask a different question to you, the ExitEvent Entrepreneur. Thought provoking questions that are meant to get you to sit back and think. Each month I offer insight into the question, along with common mistakes made by (us) entrepreneurs, and a key take-away for you to think more about. My goal—to increase your self-awareness as an entrepreneur and a leader.
Insight— Entrepreneurs are a different breed, we all know that. The longer we remain an entrepreneur, the more we strive to become a serial entrepreneur, and the more set in our entrepreneurial ways we get.
We love to build businesses and the energy of the startup environment is intoxicating. More is better, especially when we start to taste some success in our entrepreneurial ventures. Especially when we taste success, because that is the validation, the proof that motivates and inspires us to turn our energy up another notch or two. Opportunity is everywhere, and we have to take full advantage of it! More is definitely better and quickly.
Common Mistake made— The rock group Kiss had a hit song titled “Beth” back in the 1970s. The lyrics included this:
Beth, I hear you calling but I can’t come home right now, me and the boys are playing and we just can’t find the sound, just a few more hours, and I’ll be right home to you…
Have you told your significant other something similar yet? How many times? How about missing one of your kid’s events at school, your son’s choir concert or your daughter’s softball game? If you’ve had to cancel a scheduled dinner…how did that conversation go?
Are your friends wondering if you moved to a different state? Are you exercising enough or is work getting in the way of that too?
Let me be clear—I am not about to give you a lecture from Dr. Balance about the importance of keeping the proper focus between your work and your life. I was and am as guilty in this area as some of you are. I am here to say that entrepreneurs tend to become very singularly-focused on building our businesses, and that can easily happen at the expense of everything else in our lives, especially when we see success.
If you are telling yourself that it will get better in the future, you are most likely kidding yourself. I am 54 years old, a serial entrepreneur, and I fight the battle still today. It never ends, but it can get much better…
Key Take-away— Make a decision on which aspects of your personal life are non-negotiable.
Once you have them, I highly recommend that you schedule them prior to scheduling your business meetings.
Non-negotiable means that it is not open for discussion—you are not willing to compromise in that area.
Sit back after you finish reading this column and make a list of everything in your life outside of work that is very important to you, what you would consider a “must do”. Then highlight the areas that you would consider to be non-negotiable moving forward. Non-negotiable does not mean I’m really going to try to do it, I will try to improve in this area, I know I should focus more on it; it means I will and I’ll prove it by scheduling it.
I coached my boys in baseball from ages 7-15. This was non-negotiable. I did not travel for work on game days, period, end of story.
I scheduled their games and practices on the calendar and they were off-limits for travel for eight years during baseball season.
Go conquer your next entrepreneurial challenge, I know you will. But before you do, schedule your non-negotiables…so what are they in your life?