My first experience in business was with a girl I went to school with; she approached me to start a management consulting business with her. I had just graduated and so far I couldn't find a job, so it wasn't like I had any other options.
We did quite well right away, within a few months we had 5 good clients. I felt like a leadership guru, consulting and giving advice to people. Problem is, I was doing all the work. She would call me several times a week and report she was sick. Eventually I found out she had a pretty serious illness and was in the hospital for a week and a half every month. All information she should have disclosed when we went into business.
I sat down with her to discuss the future of "our business" and she was immediately defensive. She hired a lawyer the next morning. She would call me and tape the conversations (on her lawyers’ advice) and try to get me to say things she could use against me. I was Nieve I thought this was what good business partners do.
My only legal advice was from a lawyer friend who said it’s not worth my while; it took only 6 months to get to where we are, just walk away. Get a clean start.
I was consumed with anger for awhile because I felt I deserved the business, I did all the work. I had also invested a few thousand dollars and I wouldn't get that money back, it was actually my whole life savings.
I did completely walk away and start another consulting business that was a mediocre success at best. Eventually I found a job to support my entrepreneurial habit.
I believe the reason I wasn't successful the second time around was because I was getting in my own way. My anger was getting the best of me and I had fear of being the only one in charge. Some of the Lessons I Learned:
Let it go.
Forgive and forget as they say. It is easier said than done but until I gave up on resentment I was headed straight for the unemployment line. Resentment keeps you grounded in the past, starting a business is all about the future. You need all your energy to support that vision.
Motivation in the Workplace, it starts with the Right Reasons.
I had to start a business for my own reasons (anger and competitiveness are not great reasons). If your going to be self employed you really have to be in it for all the right reasons. As a plenary speaker and leadership and diversity expert, I have been a successful entrepreneur now for over 13 years. It took me several years to really get grounded and start becoming profitable. While income grows so does confidence. I started to have fun at work when I worked on the things I feel passionate about.
Focus on your cause
To engage in significant, creative work you need energy, passion and concentration. Some days I would finish my work day and think, wow I didn’t get any meaningful work done today. You have to be focused on your cause, have goals daily, weekly, monthly, yearly.
A guest lecture at a university event steered me in the right direction when she was at the conference speaking about getting mentors and support when you need it. She was right. You can't do it all alone, their are things I am not good at and they need to be done right. No point in wasting time, get an expert. I sought out a leadership expert to mentor me. Her advice was to get a job and get some experience before starting a business, so I did.