Entrepreneur or Dreamer?
Over the years, Conquent has worked with a lot of entrepreneurs. It's a good thing we also have worked with boring, established companies, or Conquent would never have made it ten years, or ten months for that matter.
I get pulled into these things because I have that ability to translate business ideas into things you can actually hire someone to do. It's a rare skill to actually talk about business in terms of problem solving and a skill that most entrepreneurs lack.
They have a vision, but a vision is often hard to separate from a dream, and if you've ever had someone try to describe their dream over breakfast, you know there isn't a lot of logic to hang onto. ('Christine Brinkley, David Brinkley, I don't know, I just know there was a Brinkley…' I gotta know which one as I have two very different ideas of what I'd do with Christine vs. David…)
I would like to believe that people start businesses for solid reasons -- they want to bring something into the world that no one else can do, that they have some unique talent or idea that will really make a splash, and hopefully some money.
But most people just hate their jobs. What they don't understand is that 99% of the time, people who start their own businesses are simply making a job for themselves, and usually the same job they just came from. Only now, they have to not only do the job they they hated (cook, draft, sell widgets, whatever) but they also have to become an accountant, learn law, make sure they toilets are clean, maintain supplies, collect payments, and corral people who hate their jobs.
And so the dream of being the master of your own domain crashes and burns. Part of it is being alone (which is part of the dream), and part of it is not being able to let go of the fuzzy parts of the dream, or understanding when your vision is lacking.
This doesn't mean you shouldn't chase your dreams, but you shouldn't do it alone. You need partners who think differently than you to clear out the fuzzy parts. Most importantly, and probably most rarely, you need to respect those differences just as they need to respect your way of thinking.
One of my favorite phrases is 'the whole is greater than the sum of the parts' but this is only true if you get the right partners. I've been involved in far too many projects where the whole is substantially less than the sum of the parts; the partners aren't letting each other do their jobs, the process is broken and dragging everyone down.
We're working on a business model to help address a lot of these problems -- giving people the ability to do what they're good at but the security of a broader organization. The model will help, but at the end of the day, it's the relationships we're building as we're taking our own fuzzy vision and turning it into something understandable that can be delivered.