Many professionals working in a corporate job find themselves fantasizing about being self-employed. Working in their own successful company and running the show is a daydream experienced by many driven professionals. Imagine having no requirements to show up or leave at a particular hour, no boss to answer to, and an endless stream of creative projects on which to work. Clearly, revenue is being generated in this daydream, but the mechanics of that don’t enter the fantasy. For many, working in one’s own successful company is all about freedom, a highly coveted value that is often severely compromised in the corporate environment.
Freedom is a top value that guides work and life. However, as an entrepreneur, one should realize that freedom must be both appreciated and managed. Once free, an entrepreneur’s responsibility is to be accountable for the free time and the choices made relative to that free time. What is accomplished with liberation will determine outcomes. Money is a physical manifestation of the decisions made and the priorities set.
As phenomenal as entrepreneurial freedom is, being in control comes with some heavy responsibilities. In order for a business to not run amok in a freedom frenzy, there are some specific areas in which free rein can be enjoyed as a business owner and where structure ensures that the newfound freedom has boundaries and can be sustained.
In each of these areas, one can find herself blessed or cursed to have ultimate control.
How fabulous to be at the helm of a future vision for one’s own enterprise. You decide the purpose and others get behind it and propel the organization forward. If the company is guided by the creator’s vision, the vision must be clear and defined. This means eliminating ideas that muddy the waters, reaching the essence of what the company’s philosophy and mission are, and looking ahead to what will transpire in the future.
Narrowing down a big vision can be complicated. The opportunity to dream big often conflicts with the necessity to find clarity and precision in creating an overall strategy and plan for the new endeavor. This doesn’t mean reducing the scope of the dream, but is linked to clearly outlining the milestones along the way. A blurry purpose is like a smudgy window, it makes it difficult for everyone involved to see the path ahead.
The vision of the company is created by the proprietor, and this is a blessing. More difficult, however, is clarifying and communicating that vision effectively; this can be a curse. As the owner, it’s imperative to develop the skills to build a strong overall vision and continually refine it.
Every successful company requires branding. Entrepreneurs require consistent brand messaging, represented at every touch point which requires systems and structure.The branding should be an aligned and authentic expression of the company’s goals, and how they serve their clients or customers, as well as the community.
The company’s brand is promising an experience that must be consistently delivered. A great example is Nordstrom. Their brand is dedicated to a very high level of customer service and the brand’s promise is evident everywhere, from the helpful sales staff to the easy return policy. When you shop at Nordstrom, nothing is difficult. The stores are clean, attractive, organized; the sales staff is abundant, friendly and well trained. There is a great restaurant and convenient restrooms. They deliver in accordance with their branding, and it’s very well orchestrated. This is no accident.
As a business owner, branding offers an opportunity to be authentic and to express the company’s mission; this is a true blessing. Deep work is required to identify the brand promise and unique brilliance of your company. A business owner must now be committed to delivering a consistent experience. This may not be a curse, but is nonetheless a responsibility to take seriously.
Determining who the ideal customers or clients will be is a process of elimination. When one loves what she does, she will want to share it with everyone. A better strategy, however, is required to find the people who will truly love and value what your company has to offer. Deciding what kind of customers or clients your business will want to attract is a difficult decision.
The choices made in this arena will be uncomfortable, especially at the beginning. The perception that potential customers are being cut will feel like a curse. However, this process is the only way to speak to those who will most clearly hear your message. From there, you will generate a ripple effect that will bring in others—a blessing. Begin by talking to people who are really listening and able to hear what the company’s mission is.
Products and Services
No matter how big a dream is, there is a starting point. Sometimes beginning the process, you might feel like a horse that has just been let out of the barn and wants to run fast. Starting at a walk can be both annoying and frustrating—a curse.
Testing out products and services, receiving feedback, revising, scrapping, and developing new products are recurring processes. One now has the freedom and blessing to create what will be sold, but for buyers to actually purchase and become return customers, a reliable process and sometimes a good deal of patience are mandatory.
Time management might be one of the biggest dilemmas for entrepreneurs. When in charge, one must gain an understanding of personal habits and high and low performance times. Flexibility in schedule is achieved by being in charge; however this can be a blessing or curse depending on what choices are made in relation to time management. Ultimately, this does not equate to a wide open work schedule.
This is where the entrepreneur comes face to face with herself and all of her many strengths and challenges with respect to performance, distraction, perfectionism, discipline and energy. Better Than Before by Gretchen Rubin takes an interesting look at individual ways to change habits after developing an awareness of individual inclinations. No blanket habit change recipe here.
An Entrepreneur’s Role
Being able to approach business ownership with a positive attitude and a willingness to make decisions, be a leader, and get the support needed to step into this space of freedom is important to success. The Emyth by Michael Gerber does a great job of identifying the three roles entrepreneurs must assume to be successful: the technician, the manager and the visionary. Balancing out the activities required by each role is a fundamental key to maintaining a business and managing freedom.
If one accepts the responsibility that accompanies the freedom desired, the blessings of entrepreneurship can be achieved.