I read an article the other day in the FM Business Journal about "Type A" business personalities. The jest of the article was that, despite being worshipped by the business community, people who have a "go getter" personality usually take on too many tasks and ultimate succeed at none.
My first reaction was "That’s Not True!" but I decided to let the thought digest for a few days and see how I reacted after some time.
You see, I have been accused of taking on too many tasks (mostly by my wife) in my daily life. I went to my 10 year reunion last fall and when asked what I had been up to lately I responded with; "Not much…work and kids, you know…" But, the truth was the answer would have been too long and there were too many things to explain.
In a different setting, when I have more time and attention, I would probably list off a few things that I have been up to in the last year including:
- Working my full time job as a business consultant.
- Working on updating my small business website.
- Working on marketing, financial, and employee issues for Vinny’s Pizza with my business partner Jeremy.
- Working on preping for class and teaching Entrepreneurship, Strategic Planning and Finance classes for the University of Mary.
- Working on Real Estate classes to become a licensed realtor so that eventually I can start business brokering company in the Red River Valley.
- And..oh…by the way spending time with my wife and three children.
Ultimately, I wonder if I am doing my self a disservice by wearing all of these hats. Most of the items on the above list start with Working. Am I your prototypical "Type A" business personality who does a lot but nothing particularly well?
If I look at my list above one at a time:
I have been a business consultant for the last five years. I have learned a lot over that time and I feel that I am pretty good at what I do…that said, I do believe I could spend more time and attention to my clients. At this point, that part of my life is on auto pilot, but I wouldn’t call it a failure, as I continue to help people build and launch successful businesses.
Which brings me to my website. DIYBizPlan.com initially was created as a service to all the entrepreneurs out there who couldn’t find the help and information they need. I spent thousands of dollars and thousands of hours creating a small business portal that essentially would allow me to continue helping small businesses long after I quit my job as a business consultant. Capital Business Plan has over 1000 registered users and the site serves over 50,000 entrepreneurs a year (I am hoping for this to become 50K a month eventually with some marketing). And while it wasn’t designed to take up a lot of my time, frequent updates and additions to the site and making it more and more time consuming.
The Restaurant on the other hand was never intended to be a part of my daily life. Initially, the plan was to invest in my business partner, help him get launched and then let go of the reigns other than some bookkeeping and moral support. But, business partnerships are tough. And, it never fails that something comes up every week requiring my time and attention. Sometimes I wonder how sole proprietors do it alone week after week.
Teaching at the University of Mary is something I love. I "facilitate" for the "School of Accelerated and Distance Education" which amounts to night classes for adults wanting to get their business degree or MBA. This "job" is mostly fun as the students are usually about the same age as me and are engaged in the class and the discussion. But, it still means that one night a week I am away from my family.
Speaking of family, it wasn’t until I read, along with my wife, The Five Languages of Love by Gary Chapman that I understood why my wife and I got into spats about our relationship. It turns out that her love language is "Quality Time" while mine was "Acts of Service". Over the first seven years of our marriage I thought that by doing more things to provide for her and our family I was showing her love. But, by being away all the time performing these "Acts of Service" I was actually ignoring her love language "Quality Time". Had I just rented a move, went for a walk with her or played with the kids I could have avoided a lot of heartache over the last several years. Now I dedicate 5:00 Pm until they are asleep everyday to my wife and kids and I believe it has made me a more successful father and husband.
Which brings me to real estate. My first love before small business (and my wife) was real estate. I spent three years managing 550 units in Grand Forks, ND for a local property management firm and despite the perception of land lords, I loved every minute of it. I have always wanted to own multi-family property, I love helping people find houses to live in, and I have spent a lot of time helping entrepreneurs find quality places to do business. Getting my real estate license is a means to a larger end. The long term goal as mentioned is to start a company that brokers small businesses, which I believe my background and education will lead to my success.
But, I know full well that I will have to clear some things off my plate to accommodate this new career path. In a lot of ways I have hit breaking point…I can not add another profession without letting one of the others slide. So, I have been doing some soul searching lately, trying to find a way to launch a (commission only) career, protect and provide for my family while still doing the things that I love.
In a lot of ways it makes me yearn for the days when I only had a full time job, my family and my free time. But inevitably, when I start clearing things off my plate I find myself pacing the house thinking through my next business idea.
I guess that’s just the plight of the entrepreneur!