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Happy Entrepreneurs Don't Let Their Business Become Their Identity

by Dominic Mazzone

posted in Business

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I love you, I love you, I love you. If you could listen inside an entrepreneur's head, this is usually what you would hear about their business. You might also hear, I hate you, I hate you, I hate you. One thing's for sure, there is a lot of passion for the business and that passion starts seeping into the entrepreneur's identity but how do we control that assure we are a happy entrepreneur.
It all starts innocently enough. You have an idea, you get excited, you put the pieces together, and you give birth to a business. People start asking you about the business, how the business is doing, and are interested in your overall success, whether they are rooting for you or not. Over time, you start being introduced with qualifiers like, " Meet Susan, she is the CEO of XYZ Company, The (insert your industry or product here) company.
Before you know it, this thing you gave birth to is taking over your identity (it doesn't help that you ordered a bunch of hats, shirts, jackets, and pens with your company name all over it). Once it does, it starts controlling your happiness. If the company is doing well, you're happy and optimistic. If it is doing poorly, you're stressed and sad. Whatever happens, the business is controlling your state of being.
Once you have been through successes and especially failures, you start to realize that hitching your identity and mood to an unpredictable star isn't a long term strategy for happiness.
As entrepreneurs, we sometimes feel this self torture is a right of passage. It shouldn't be. Letting your business run your life and mood is like inviting Keith Richards to a kid's birthday party: one day he might be OK, but another day he might start drinking, smoking, hitting on the mothers, and doing drugs in the bathroom. Once you have been through successes and especially failures, you start to realize that hitching your identity and mood to an unpredictable star isn't a long term strategy for happiness.
How To Fix It
From day one, remind yourself that this business will not be the death or life of you. A business is there to do one thing, and one thing only. To make money and serve a purpose. The money is used to provide you with a lifestyle. If you extrapolate that out, sure the money is the source of the lifestyle that makes you happy, but if you didn't have the business, you'd do something else to make money.
Here are a few things to help keep your identity separate from your business.
  • Daily, take stock of what you have in your life that truly counts like health, family, a place to live, food, walking, hearing, talking and how about just living and feeling the sun on your face. This is definitely the first step to being a happy entrepreneur.

  • Don't think that this business is going to be your last. It probably won't, because once you start a business you will find it is very easy to start another one and starting businesses can even become addicting. That means that this one business isn't everything you are and possibly can be.

  • You really aren't that important. Yes, that was a bit harsh but it got your attention. Speaking of attention, remember the only reason people pay attention to your business is because you built your business, not the other way around.

If you're a smart entrepreneur and are well versed in leadership, you realize that you, as the CEO of your business, are looked at as the driver and figure-head. The business needs you to insert energy into the business. The business needs you for vision. The business is just a name and not a living breathing entity without you. In essence, your business is going to be sad (failing) or happy (successful and prosperous) based on you. Remember, it's not that your business shouldn't be your identity, it's the fact that your business gets its identity from you, so be a good role model and not, a Rolling Stone.
About the Author: This article was written by Dominic Mazzone, Managing Partner and Fund Manager of Smashbox Consulting.
This article and other like it can be viewed at SmashBox Consulting Website.
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