Friday, October 2, 2009

Confession of an entrepreneur: Friendship

At last week’s Meetup of Meetups, I had a chance to kick my feet up early and catch up with some keen entrepreneurs who came earlier to the event. A question was posed to me… what was one of the disadvantages of starting a business when I was so young? I had to think about it… perhaps because my second Budweiser Lime Light got my mind a little hazy, but off the top of my head and maybe because of the social event we were about to have, I exclaimed, “You lose friends and you lose them fast!”

What people don’t tell you is that once you start your business, when you live and breathe your business, you literally become a social outcast in your close-knit circle of friends. You can no longer relate to the complaints about a nasty boss, long hours in cubicles and crazy co-workers. I find myself having little patience – if you have such a problem then find a new job or start your own business! Those were not satisfactory answers and it usually gets me in a lot of trouble with my friends. In replies, I usually get the “I can’t believe you would trade a regular paycheque for little or no money”, why would you work from the basement or even worse “get a real job”.

I have fantastic supportive friends who I have known from high school and elementary schools. They love me and I love them. We do anything to support each other but we strain to make conversations whenever we meet each other. Once we get past the pleasantries and the updates, we have a hard time connecting about the present so we revert back to past events…. our conversations usually take the tone of “remember that time in the cafeteria and you slipped?” or “remember that teacher who was so nice?” I almost feel a relief when our social outing is over because it took so much effort to come up with conversations. My best friend and I see each other maybe once every 6 months, most of the time more because her work keeps her very busy, actually busier than me! She’s an auditor at one of the top 5 firms. It was always her goal to be in the top 5 and mine to be running my own business. It is slightly sad that the further ahead we get in our respective field, the further we drift away from each other. While we still make every effort to catch up, things aren’t quite the same.

It’s not all that bad though, I have fantastic business partners who live and breathe the business with me. People who in an instant would know what I am going to do and vice versa, I think my partners are now my best friends too. We have to be… we are in a relationship that is even deeper than friendship, I rely on them for my livelihood and I see them more often than my family. If you are looking to start a business on your own, I would ask you to consider bringing in a partner but if that isn’t an option then please join organizations with likeminded individuals who are in the same boat as you.

I think this is the reason why I threw my hat in the ring to be president of then Advancing Canadian Entrepreneurs (now called SIFE) and after graduation I started organizing the Vancouver Entrepreneur Meetup. It can get pretty lonely sometimes to not be able to share the success, obstacles and challenges with another human being who is on the same path as you are. Well at today’s event we are expecting about 600 people, about 360 of those attending are from Vancouver Entrepreneur Meetup so I guess I can’t feel that bad I have 360 people who can share, understand and relate to what I am going through.
Quote of the day:
"Effective leadership is putting first things first. Effective management is discipline, carrying it out."

Stephen Covey

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