The Delicate Art Of Investing

What's right for wage slaves isn't right for entrepreneurs. They need a strategy all their own

Twenty years ago, Steven Smith shoveled all his cash into just one investment: his company, Tec Laboratories Inc. At first, it was because he needed every dime to build the Albany (Ore.), manufacturer of over-the-counter skin medicines for poison oak, poison ivy, and head lice. But later, after Tec Labs had grown, Smith was reluctant to invest elsewhere. "Even when I took money out," he recalls, "I didn't feel it was mine--I never knew when the company would need it." Today, after more than a decade of 20% annual growth, he expects to double revenues again in a few years, from their current level of nearly $10 million. So has success given Smith an itch to invest elsewhere? Hardly. "For a successful entrepreneur, a dollar in the business can return 300%, 400%, 1,000%," he says. "It's very hard to wean yourself away from that heady return."

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