Monday, October 10, 2011

Do I Practice What I Preach? Confessions of a Busy Entrepreneur.

It’s been an interesting experience to promote a book on satisfaction as an entrepreneur during what is hands down the craziest time in my life professionally (and personally too). We have been working ourselves to the bone. And for the first time in a long time I’ve compromised on something I rarely ever do…sleep. Long ago I swore to myself that I’ll never pull all-nighters like I did in college again. And while I’ve stuck to my guns (without hesitation) on that, I’ve been turning off my computer way too late on too many occasions.
Perhaps it is to be expected…in addition to promoting The Big Enough Company, I am producing a ton of written content, running a business, running a household, managing a complicated 3 stage move for my family which begins in November and ends in May and whose final destination won’t be revealed until March, raising my daughter, and planning for a new baby in January.
I (for the most part) chose all of these circumstances and I (for the most part) am excited about all of them…truth be told the move is a little bit of a mixed bag. But given my circumstances I find ironic to be writing articles about how to avoid exhaustion and burnout as an entrepreneur. More than once it has made me question my own credibility. Who am I to be doling out advice on how to “create a business that works for you” when my own life resembles a three ring circus?
It is these moments when I have found myself taking my own advice. It has actually been quite helpful to have the lessons of The Big Enough Company close at hand during this exciting and challenging time.
First and foremost, I remember my original motivation and think about WHY I’m doing this.
I was desperate to get my own view and perspective on entrepreneurship out there in a big way. I was tired of so many entrepreneurs being totally disenchanted with their experiences and failing to take full advantage of all that entrepreneurship has to offer them. I was sick of so many amazing and innovative small businesses being discounted because they weren’t “big enough” to matter. I was fed up about all the advice out there that encourages entrepreneurs to grow their companies in one way: fast and furious. I wanted to write a manifesto that would allow me to connect with the entrepreneurs who wanted to look at things differently. I wanted to create a community around this concept of “big enough” and include their stories in the text. When I think about all this I’m instantly energized and full of purpose. To me, this work matters.
Secondly, I remember the goal that I have with the book specifically – to broaden the conversation about what success and entrepreneur mean and to talk to as many people as I can about what it means to create a business that works for you. I also remember that I wanted to create more writing opportunities for myself (check) and more business opportunities (check).
I also remember that my situation doesn’t need to work for anyone but me. I’ve made the decisions I have for a reason and I’ve made the compromises that I have for a reason. My absence of guilt or anxiety over the way I’m spending my time is evidence that the formula is mostly right. My fatigue tells me that it’s not sustainable in the long run, but that’s alright because we aren’t planning on keeping up this pace forever. I will choose not to let this be my new normal. I will choose to make this a time-bound experience. I make a note to be very stingy with my time for the first quarter of next year. I will need rejuvenation time and also I have baby #2 coming.
Still, there are certainly areas for improvement…as always! Given all the goals and priorities and work, I know I need to be better about saying no to certain tasks and requests and setting better expectations for how much can get done at once. And in that vein, I need to keep reminding myself that perfection is not the goal…only progress. There is a lot of value in continuing to put one foot in front of the other. Since I’m in such new territory I need to keep leveraging my community and asking for lessons learned when it comes to the things I don’t know about, namely promoting a book and how to best manage two kids eighteen months apart. This will make the experience less lonely and confusing and also prevent me from reinventing the wheel.
So, as I write this at 10:23pm on a Sunday night, instead of fretting over yet another night working until 11pm I am going to remember that I got to spend the last three days with my daughter and that was time I refused to compromise on. And more time with her is worth less sleep to me. I am also thinking about the number of people who told me this week that The Big Enough Company really made them think about their business differently. I also think about the fun I had in Chicago and how funny it was when we got a flat tire and later when I got lost in the parking garage.  I think about how amazing the In Good Company community is and how much they have supported us. I feel so fortunate. I think about how grateful I am to do work that I love and that I can do it on my own terms – no matter how crazy they may be.
All this makes me realize I am qualified to talk about satisfaction as entrepreneur because as hard as it is, I continue each and every day to strive towards the best formula I can. I know that it’s an ever-changing goal but I know I’m up for the challenge and, more importantly, confident in my ability to identify my needs and goals. I refuse to settle or give up anything important. I am uncompromising in my pursuit of work that works for me and all I want is the same for you.

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