The most useful lesson I learned this year is this – you can’t be excellent in your spare time.
I should know. I tried it. Up until this month, along with running 7 Generation Games, I was working as a statistical consultant, chair of a non-profit board and teaching graduate school. We did very well. We met our deadlines, hired some great people, put two good games on the market. We accomplished a lot.
When it came down to time to ask investors for money, I had to take a hard look at myself and at the company and ask if I was not all in, how could I ask other people to take a risk? Yes, I worked without pay many months and I put some a lot of my own funds in the company. However, I still had these other sources of income to hedge my bets, and those ‘hedge funds’ were taking time away from the company. In less than three months, I turned down NINE job opportunities.
By the ninth time, I was really taking a deep breath as I typed the email, “I’m sorry I won’t be able to accept …”
Whether it is a career, an education, a company or a sport when you only devote part of your efforts, you miss out on so much. You may be getting everything “necessary” completed, but no one ever achieved greatness by only doing what is necessary. In the past few weeks, I have said approximately 40,876 times,
“I am SO glad I took the risk to focus 100% on 7 Generation Games.”
If your enterprise matters to you, take the plunge, step off the precipice. Yes, it will be scary and hard to let go when you have new, secure job offers or a life of comfort at hand.
An Insider’s Glimpse of Start-up Life
Here’s what you should make time for while running an enterprise:
- Review your budget – find out if you might be paying expenses you don’t really need, cut those costs to make money available for bigger priorities,
- Take advantage of learning opportunities, from courses to conferences to technical books. I just signed up for a membership for lynda.com and I’ve already learned a few things that made it worth the cost,
- Communicate with your co-founders and employees, making sure everyone has the same priorities, insuring people have the resources they need to be excellent at their jobs,
- Network – there are three ways to learn- from books or videos by intelligent people and by talking with intelligent people. Many entrepreneurs focus on networking as a means to get funded. The fact is, though, you’ll meet a lot more people who are NOT investors and disregarding the knowledge of other entrepreneurs, attorneys, accountants, developers, etc. is just a huge wasted opportunity for you to get better.
- Review your products and see how you can improve. Then, do it.
- Reach out to your customers more often to show you appreciate them, and to better understand their needs.
- Apply for additional funds to grow your business.
I could go on, but I hope you get the point. When you’re a part-time entrepreneur, if you are hard-working, you will find ways to optimize your time and address everything that needs to be done. That’s competence.
Excellence is a full-time gig.
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