Reinvention often involves a long-held business dream or consulting venture, but not all dreams should become realities.
I’ve always said that only about 1 percetn of the population should be involved in entrepreneurial ventures. That’s an opinion shared by Carole Hyatt, a pioneer in the executive coaching field and entrepreneur who has helped thousands of women work their way to reinvention. Why can so few women (or men) make it in the entrepreneurial world? Carole says that it all comes down to the fact that no one is taking care of you. In an established company—whether you’re an administrator or an executive—there’s usually someone else who is ultimately in charge. There are lots of people and processes lighting the way. Even the most senior-level professionals do not operate completely on their own: There’s always a CEO or a board to tell you what is expected of you and share the decision-making load.
It’s not that corporate professionals don’t have to make many of their own decisions. The issue is that they’re often untrained or ill suited for the more prosaic, but fundamental, decisions that make a business run. A senior executive can decide to employ 10,000 workers in China or invest millions of dollars in commercial real estate, but that same person, in an entrepreneurial setting, can experience head-spinning confusion over which office copier is the right one to buy.
When you’re not a true entrepreneur, the time you labor about little decisions adds up to a big chunk of “billable” work time. True entrepreneurs are the real jugglers of the business world — spinning through mundane and intellectual tasks with equal ability and ease.
Carole gave the example of a woman who had once been a high government official running a big chunk of foreign relations. This woman ventured off to start her own business and found herself running little more than in circles. She spent hours deliberating over stationery and business card choices, how to get things mailed and who to hire for help. Without the structure of corporate deadlines, Carole also sees many circle-in-a-square entrepreneurs stretch projects over days and months. That’s not me: I’m a dyed-in-the-wool entrepreneur who can keep my eyes on the computer when the dog is barking, children are asking me questions and the house next door is on fire. I see many others, though, delay projects for leaky faucets and friends who call to chat. And aside from distractions, the lack of deadlines imposed by a superior make it too easy to think and rethink every business step you take.
There are hundreds of things you have to consider if a solo business is beckoning. But long before you start thinking up a company name, make sure you can really be the boss of you.