Being Your Own Boss

The world of entrepreneurs is a unique one – its highs and lows are not easy to fathom by those who don’t tread on their own path. Through a series of blog posts, I intend to share some my experiences as an entrepreneur, so that it may be of some help to others who wish to understand this journey…

 

It’s been just over three months since I began my second stint as an entrepreneur. Before I launched my venture, the list of things to-do was long, but did not seem unachievable. The presumption was that I would have a lot more time at-hand, and a lot more flexibility. The ‘flexibility’ part came true, the ‘time’ part did not.

Yes, I managed to take a small family vacation, attend a number of school functions and occassions, get down to sorting my entire book collection, and fix some things around the house. But, I also have a long list of personal and professional goals that I intend to get around to, during the course of the year.

An entrepreneur should make peace with the fact that the “ToDo” list is not meant to be completed entirely – instead, it is a living, never-ending, document that helps you keep track of things you need to attend to (or drop) as your priorities keep evolving.

After spending more than 12 years working for corporates of all shapes and sizes, I thought I would miss the water-cooler conversations, the company of being surrounded by colleagues throughout the day.  But, it turns out that meetings and conversations with prospects, clients and potential partners fill that gap just fine.

I was certainly looking forward to avoiding the grind of the “daily commute”, and that has worked out beautifully. Every day, I’m ready to hit work at 8 am and, on many days, only have to travel the distance from my living room to my work desk. After years of living in Mumbai, I am finally beginning to experience the pleasures of driving around the city in off-peak hours!

But, let me also talk about the most challenging aspect of it all – Freedom!

Popular notion suggests that the most thrilling aspect of “being your own boss” is the complete sense of freedom you have about choosing to spend your time any way you like.  What people don’t realize is that with great freedom come great dilemmas.

You see, in a typical corporate context, every one is assigned some degree of empowerment and supervision which dictate what you can and cannot do. That’s not so when you are on your own. There is no policy, guideline or official memo defining your boundaries for you. So you need to figure it all out on your own.

Should you spend your time chasing an immediate prospect or invest in developing a long-term idea that will not fructify for a year? Should you sign the contract your client’s legal team has sent in or suggest changes and risk losing the business?  Should you meet an acquaintance who may yield some business, or spend your time updating your website’s content?

As in Life, so in entrepreneurship, everything is a trade-off. And there’s no one to ask what you can or cannot do… what you should or should not do. You gotta figure it out on your own. And, that’s part of the thrill of running your own enterprise.

Being an entrepreneur is akin to having a compass, and a broad sense of the direction you are headed into – but, building the map as you go along your path. In other words, it is not much different from taking a leap of faith, jumping off the cliff, and building the parachute on your way down!

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