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July 8, 2013 — A weekly look at Wyoming business questions from the Wyoming Small Business Development Center (WSBDC), part of WyomingEntrepreneur.Biz, a collection of business assistance programs at the University of Wyoming.
Mike Lambert, Wyoming Market Research Center manager
“I started my own business so that I could have more time with my family and friends, but it seems that I’m always working. Do you have any advice?” Steve, Afton
You’ve run into what some call the “Entrepreneur’s Curse.”
Many folks start a business because they’re tired of the 8-to-5, five-days-a-week drag and the thought of being your own boss sounds perfect. Now, goes the thinking, I can take time off for hunting and fishing, take that vacation to the Bahamas or get to all of my kid’s school functions.
Unfortunately, the reality, especially during the first several years, is pretty much the opposite. Peter Gasca, writing in Inc. Magazine, talks about starting his own business this way:
“Like any new business, it consumed every minute of spare time and every ounce of energy I had. When I actually took a few hours off, for example on a weekend to indulge in a simple college football game, the enthusiasm and pleasure of doing so were always dampened by the heavy guilt I felt for not working at the business. If we were slow enough to take time off, should I not be focused on trying to get more business?”
Sound familiar? Nearly every entrepreneur would find this to be something that strikes pretty close to home. Gasca came up with five ways to avoid the “curse”:
-- Find a partner. I know, you’re the original loaner and you want to build your business your way. However, a trustworthy partner can go a long way to splitting the load, and maybe even help you find time for that football game or even a vacation.
-- Hire better people. Look for people who are smart, trustworthy and passionate. In other words, look for you. Don’t skimp on the quality of your personnel, because better people make for a better business that runs smoother.
-- Learn to delegate. This is really tough for many entrepreneurs. After all, you are the expert of your own company and no one can do it better, right? Well, maybe. It’s important for the growth of children and employees that you let them have the opportunity to delight you. Gasca says, “Understand your strengths and the priorities of the business and trust the rest to your team.”
-- Find your happy place. Carve out time and space for you to recharge. This can be a few minutes in your car listening to music, an evening at the movies or riding your horse. It is vital that you make time to reset your brain, even if it only is for a few minutes.
-- Do what you love. Most entrepreneurs start their business because they have a passion for some part of it. You can quickly lose the joy you felt when the parts of the business that don’t make you smile continually intrude. With me, it would be the accounting and reporting part. If you find yourself getting frustrated, remember why you started the business and spend some time doing what you love. If some part of your business really irritates or confounds you, see if you can find someone to handle it.
Follow these tips, and chances are you can avoid the “Entrepreneur’s Curse.” You, your business, your employees and your customers will all benefit.
A blog version of this article and an opportunity to post comments is available at http://www.wyomingentrepreneur.typepad.com/blog/.
The WSBDC is a partnership of the U.S. Small Business Administration, the Wyoming Business Council and the University of Wyoming. To ask a question, call 1-800-348-5194, email firstname.lastname@example.org or write 1000 E. University Ave., Dept. 3922, Laramie, WY, 82071-3922.