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You know you are an entrepreneur when…

The frustration of the young woman across the table was palpable and she was beating herself up in a big way. Why had she not found the magic answer? Why was this taking so long? Why could she not be completely independent and not depend on other revenue?

I have sat at many kitchen and boardroom tables and heard the same discussion. Most times, these young men and women are creative entrepreneurs who are really good at what they do and have actually done amazing business already. What they possess in spirit they most certainly lack in patience. In light of these conversations, rather than a rendition of “you know you’re a redneck when,” which you might expect in a cattlemen/cattlefeeders magazine, we’ll look at entrepreneurship and how to make it an enjoyable rather than agonizing ride.

You know you are an entrepreneur when you focus on failures rather than successes.

Entrepreneurs can be of any one of the risk tolerance profiles from cautious to full speed. What they tend to do at the beginning of their creative thinking process is dream, scheme and then scream when it does not work out. They see each failure as a deep cut to the soul and if they carry enough of those scars they become mortally wounded.

There is always a risk at some time in the execution of an idea. It could be the cost at the beginning or a bad turn in the middle. It is important to look at the bumps in the road as just that — bumps in the road. Simply learn from the error and carry on keeping the vision clearly in mind.

Remember that when we work from a place of core values and beliefs, it is easy to keep the vision clear. It is when we start to justify our actions that we are off track. All actions and decisions should feed into the vision. How one executes is the mission. The rest is wasted time.

You know you are an entrepreneur when you meet your financial target and are disappointed.

I deal with around 40 families at any given time and all are entrepreneurial in spirit. It is like high-speed dating with dragonflies. They meet the target and feel let down and launch to the next spot. This is the point when I gently remind them to revisit their definition of success.

For example: I define personal financial success as being able to see my children and grandchildren at any given time (this requires extensive flights). Others have much more aggressive definitions of success. It is interesting that EVERYTIME a client makes his or her first million they are disappointed. Why? Because money is only part of the definition of personal success.

You know you are an entrepreneur when you come to a full stop when all measures of the initial project are achieved.

By full stop I mean totally stalled out, unable to move or think — pouty. Success came so quickly that the entrepreneurs are now challenging themselves because they were not more successful. This brings us back again to your definition of success and a reminder to take stock, do an evaluation of what is needed to move forward and to prepare for future gains.

I must boast that young entrepreneurs are high achievers in a short period of time. They really don’t think about the timelines and are often totally unprepared for the event. To complicate this, the families and business partners are left gasping for air as Mr./Ms. Entrepreneur zips through life. There are touch points here for dragonflies:

  1. Take your family and business partners with you by clearly articulating what it is you are going to achieve.
  2. Prepare for a different life once you get to where you are going.

The cowboy/girl is now stuck in an office, the cattle feeder on a plane, the baker on the factory floor and the mother left searching for constant and adequate child care. They all got what they wanted — and in a hurry — but life changed to meet the demands of their growing company. It is a critical stage where a lot of support is needed. As the business further evolves, this too passes to where you can go back to where you started and enjoy it.

You know you are an entrepreneur when you change your mind (again).

The world was saved on round one, the family survived; the business is humming and so what next? Or the other scenario often is: the project is half done, the money is spent and we are not having fun. Let’s change directions.

This is classic entrepreneurial behaviour and quite alright if you take your family and your team with you. These adventurous dragonflies are not the folks you see rowing across the lake in a relaxed manner. These are the men and women with an Evinrude on their canoe! I often step in with a few light weights at this point as the engine is being revved, sparks are flying and the entrepreneur is at the dock ready to blast off.

Entrepreneurs will change their minds — often. Encouraging them to define and prepare for success, empowering them to learn from the bumps in the road and to continually feed the vision, inspiring them to be patient and stay on track, to communicate with their teams and being a light anchor when they prepare to launch is all part of the privilege and the process of working with amazing young entrepreneurs.

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