Thursday, October 6, 2011

The life of an entrepreneur is hard

"Business is just in general harder these days, and the life of an entrepreneur is harder still."

A friend and experienced businessman wrote these words to me overnight from South America where he's been pursuing some interesting opportunities these past few months.

They struck a chord with me, echoing my own experience: it all just moves so much more slowly in these times of great economic uncertainty. Typically, small entrepreneurial companies can see an opportunity and move fast. But sooner or later, we need to engage with more established businesses, often for distribution arrangements or direct sales. And they move at glacial pace!

Even with support from the most senior executive, many organizations are stuck almost in paralysis:
  • An IT director responded to his boss's request to set up a meeting with me suggesting February of next year! (I think they might have other issues than simply busyness!)
  • Another company recently indicated that their due diligence process is likely to last more than six months, by which time the marketplace - and their competitors - will have moved on.
  • The more people who get involved in a decision (necessary to make sure all angles are covered, and no one neck is on a chopping block) the more easily derailed progress can be: today's meeting got pushed back a couple of weeks because of a re-scheduled board meeting and it'll be two weeks before we can get everyone together again...
With issues like these, entrepreneurs need to retain vision and enthusiasm and dogged persistence. Today's news and Twitter streams are bombarded with tributes to Steve Jobs of Apple whose death was reported today. One of his greatest achievements was in modelling this kind of self-belief and persistence in the face of adversity.

I'm grateful for those around me who "get it" and believe in what we're doing. Their enthusiasm often tops mine up and together we are better than we could be individually.
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