Being an entrepreneur is hard. Working for one or being related to one can be even harder. I had no idea when I built my Inc. 500 company how much of what I said and did would affect the people around me. I just figured I could say what I think and people would just get it. Well it turns out that as I grew my company, the impact of what I had to say became more powerful. That has its advantages but it comes with some danger as well since the interpretation wasn't always what I had expected or hoped for.
Entrepreneurs work hard to gain respect and offer leadership. Some flaws and truths are perfectly acceptable to share with their followers but some truths can create fear and insecurity that can create instability in a company or family. Still the truth is the truth and People should know what they are dealing with when they engage in an entrepreneurial environment.
Here is what goes on in the minds of many entrepreneurs that they are wary of saying in public.
1. I don't have a clear business model.
So many people are attracted to the excitement and energy of a start-up. But they don't automatically understand that lack of structure is likely. When entrepreneurs are trailblazing, they haven't yet figured out how everything is going to work yet. They may have mapped out a basic business but a great business model takes time and information to develop. Usually the first priorities are funding, sales and people so the modeling comes later. It takes time and testing to establish a solid model, and entrepreneurs tend to learn as they go.
2. I am unemployable.
Many of the characteristics that make entrepreneurs successful in their own business ventures make them extremely unattractive employees. They have little tolerance for bureaucracy and mediocrity so they push themselves and everyone around them hard, constantly. They fill vacuums of leadership with little respect for hierarchy. All this is great if you are the one in charge, but challenging in a corporate environment. Many entrepreneurs don't want you to know that they can't play well with others in the sandbox. And, many aren't even aware of it themselves.
3. I am largely out of my comfort zone.
Many people assume that entrepreneurs are adaptable and able to manage change from day to day since they have so many new and different ideas on a daily basis, and some are. But many live in a constant state of fear that their idea, marketing or skills are not up to the task of building a successful company. Of course, once the ship has sailed they have no choice but to steer it the best they can. And leaving the team rudderless, or believing they are is not a viable option. So they assume a position of strength and set the course. They know great people will only follow confident leaders.
4. Financial stability is a low priority.
The idea is mightier than the dollar. Without that belief, how else can a Tony Hsieh spend 10+ years building a company with little or no profit expecting that someone someday will think it incredibly valuable. Money has little meaning except to keep the idea going. The desire for profitability is largely driven by the needs of the investors rather than the entrepreneur. So they focus on growth and market share. They assume if you can attract a community the money will come. Even when it doesn't, but then that's what another round of funding is for. Everyone is excited about the idea and the ride. Right?
5. What you do is riskier than what I do.
Entrepreneurs believe the way to manage risk is control. They are sure they can always find a way to survive or excel if they have passion, ideas, and are willing to work hard. Why someone would want to put their destiny and security into the hands of someone else doesn't make sense to them. Of course they are perfectly happy to work with people who do. Entrepreneurs need amazing employees to achieve a great vision. But don't think for a moment they would ever trade places and trust you with their destiny.
6. I have to be successful first before I can help you.
Yes entrepreneurs can be narcissistic. They have a vision and they are determined to achieve it no matter the cost. But they are benevolent narcissists. They are committed to bringing other believers along the path to success. Still they can't help you achieve your dreams unless you help them get funding, get sales, and achieve stability. Only then can they share the wealth in a meaningful way.