People start their own businesses and become entrepreneurs because they dream of having the freedom and rewards that can come from being their own boss. However, after observing thousands of entrepreneurs over the years, I’ve found the rule—not the exception—is that, after a period of time, businesses become enslaving rather than freedom-giving!
Most idealistic entrepreneurs are, in the words of Michael Gerber, "technicians suffering from an entrepreneurial seizure." In other words, a successful plumber becomes a mechanical contractor, or a successful insurance salesman opens his own agency. They loved the jobs they were doing and thought they would be happier, healthier, and wealthier if they did it on their own. What happens over time, however, is that they begin to be swallowed up by all of the hundreds of details associated with running a business, and the parts of the business they truly loved when they started get put on the back burner in favor of all the urgent and necessary tasks that have to be done.
While it’s often a badge of honor for businessmen to brag about how many hours they work per week, in the long run no one can truly work at peak efficiency and enjoy long-term health and life balance working such a grueling and stressful schedule. "Enslavement" by your business is ultimately a choice. If you choose to be free again, you can do it.
Wayne Rivers Family Business Institute Raleigh, N.C.