I read a great article the other day about what it means to be an entrepreneur. And it made me recall a conversation I had with a professor at HEC about the difficulty in creating an entrepreneurial module for a masters course. It is indeed a challenge to create an educational environment which stimulates a start-up mindset, because 'Entrepreneurship' is - in reality - a personality type developed through both nature and nuture.
Anyone who has started their own business will understand that you live and breathe its ideals and its goals; sometimes you can scarcely talk about anything else and it is [almost] as precious as a child. You feel love - yes love - for those who get involved and contribute gladly to your mission be it customers, suppliers or advisors. That includes friends. You see the world in terms of oppportunities, synergies, and risks. It means that you never really take a break and when you create relationships - it is not in order to exploit them - but it is with a mind open to and actively seeking advantageous collaboration (this is true relationship building, not exploitation).
As an entrepreneur I feel a keen kinship with those who has struck out on their own and have made many friends as a result of my initiative. On the downside, I have alienated many older friends with my passion for my business; they complain that my bid for freedom has turned me into a mercenary, ready to exploit our relationship to turn a fast buck.
They're still my friends, but because they are uninterested and worse, dismissive of my passion, I am unable to share a hugely important part of my life with them. It feels harsh and perhaps even selfish to admit that I prefer to turn to others with whom I have more in common and with whom I can be myself.
As parents gravitate towards spending time with other parents, and as we spend less time with those who distance themselves from our children, so in all honesty this is what occurs with entrepreneurs. Of course I do make and enjoy making time for and giving time to others; balance is required in all relationships. But the bottom line is this.
If my business activities are off limits within our relationship, then chances are, our relationship will be relegated to the sidelines.
Because a true entrepreneur is never off-duty.
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