A Message To Friends, Family and Associates of New Entrepreneurs:
I’m speaking for myself with what I am about to share. However, I’m sure I am about to say what some of your friends, family members and associates want to, but won’t, either because they don’t want to offend you, or because they can’t spare the time and energy it might take to gain your understanding. I’m writing this because, in the past couple of weeks, I’ve experienced another incredulous response to my not committing to being present at an annual event I’ve consistently attended in previous years, and yet another to my delay in making a donation in support of a cause I deeply care about.
A little over two years ago, my wife Zara Green and I launched our own business, A2Z Personal Growth Enterprises, the parent company of The Grown Zone and Zara Green, Your Consigliere. The situation most parallel to launching a business is the birth of a child, as both necessitate significant lifestyle changes for the “parents,” whether of a new-born baby or a new start-up. What does this mean?
It means that our life now revolves around feeding, nurturing and ensuring the survival and growth of our “baby,” with nearly everything else subordinate in priority. As is the case with most new parents, everything about how we spend our energy, money and time has changed. Just as a new baby can’t care for itself, a new business does not run itself. We don’t hang like we used to. And no, we don’t spend like we used to. For example:
Our schedule revolves around building and nurturing our business, which means bypassing activities that may be loads of fun or part of family tradition, in favor of spending the time needed to generate leads, produce content, develop products and services, market to potential clients, and service new and existing ones. This includes attending and participating in those events that will help us to generate revenue or identify paying clients.
Launching a new venture means skipping activities with family and friends we may have once consistently attended, in favor of those with people who need and are likely to purchase what our business has to offer. (In too many instances, our friends and family don’t fall into the latter category, or don’t feel the need to patronize our business even when they do.) It means we won’t be driving or flying home to visit you as often as we used to. Before we had a business, we had plenty of free nights and weekends; now, they’re nearly all spoken for.
It doesn’t mean we don’t love and miss you. But given the choice of hanging out with friends or relatives, or attending an event related to our business that can result in actual revenues, nine times out of ten, we’ll be choosing the latter. Even if our calendar is open, the demands of our business may require us to focus on creating a new coaching package or processing orders of our book Loving In The Grown Zone, rather than spend time with you.
What applies to our time also applies to our money. What we once might have considered to be disposable income is no longer, as we are using all available resources to finance our new venture until it is generating enough revenue to stand on its own. For example, most of the money we once spent on holiday and birthday gifts (and the cost of travel to deliver them) is now necessary to feed our new “baby,” to keep our business alive, growing and healthy.
The time and money we once devoted to trips home to visit family or vacation with friends is now earmarked for travel to business conferences or for industry-related training. The same goes for the funds for the alumni dinners, golf outings and charitable causes we budgeted for annually before we launched our new venture. If we can leverage such expenditures to generate sales, great. (For example, 18 holes of golf with the right foursome can do wonders for sales.) If not, you probably shouldn’t count on our financial support, especially when cash flow for the business is tight. Our “baby” may not need a new pair of shoes, but web hosting and security, Internet service, CRM tools, sales coaching, business travel and other necessities cost.
The point of all of this is to, hopefully, sensitize you to what it means when friends or family members tell you that they’ve started a business, and how such an endeavor will likely change their respective lives and relationships with you. Understand that they will likely no longer have available the time, money and attention you may have become accustomed to from them. If you can’t patronize their business or steer paying customers their way, at least be mindful of the new priority of their life, just as you would if they were taking on the demands of new parenthood.
Zara D. Green and Alfred A. Edmond Jr., the authors of Loving in the Grown Zone: A No-Nonsense Guide to Making Healthy Decisions in the Quest for Loving, Romantic Relationships of Honor, Esteem and Respect (Balboa Press), are co-principals of A2Z Personal Growth Enterprises, producer of the Grown ZoneTM Relationship Education platform. The couple offers relationship education coaching, seminars, and products, and leads workshops on self-love and resiliency, healthy relationships and “Grown” decision-making at live events across the countryBLOG COMMENTS POWERED BY DISQUS