Tuesday, October 18, 2005

In a hell all their own

I blogged a few days ago about my column this month in PROFIT Magazine. It’s a personal look at some of the frustrations and disappointments of life as an entrepreneur, but kinda funny and kinda hopeful.

As I mentioned in the post “Nine hard truths,” (click here), that column has received an unusually high number of positive responses. I find that interesting, because journalists tend to value the reporting we do (objective, formally researched stories) much more highly than the “lighter,” more personal essays. The readers’ responses are a nice reminder that there is more than one way to serve an audience.

That post was written before I finally got into my previously locked-out PROFIT e-mailbox, where last week I discovered more letters from readers. It was fascinating to see how much other entrepreneurs identified with the problems I wrote about: phones not ringing, customers crying for innovation but having no budget, or “At any given time, everyone you want to contact is in a meeting.”

As I learned long ago, entrepreneurs often feel they are in a hell all their own - that nobody understands what they go through. That’s one of the things that kept me at PROFIT magazine for 13 years – helping entrepreneurs connect with each other.

For insight into entrepreneur isolation, here are excerpts from some of the e-mails I received:

“Hi Rick: As an entrepreneur and a consultant I sometimes feel that my experiences are mine alone. Then I read your Frontlines article; I could have written it myself. Most of the wisdom in the article I have seen first-hand…”

“Good article! You speak the truth and I know the pain of it all too well; I’ve been at this a long time and I still live with it regularly.”

“I wanted to just pass on my endorsement of your lessons and rules and encourage you to keep ‘passing it on’ so that we can successfully grow the entrepreneurial community in Canada!”

“Hello. I enjoyed finding out I am not the only one. Thanks.”

“Mr. Spence: Upon reading your article about entrepreneurship, I immediately searched my home office for hidden cameras and transmitters; you have perfectly described the realities of an entrepreneur. ”

Nonetheless, that last writer adds, “ it is still better to be an entrepreneur than to not be one. We're part of the contrarian subset of culture, like musicians or farmers, who marvel at the throngs of people drinking hot coffee in barely creeping cars on their way to go work for someone else's ideas.”

I couldn’t have said it better. Thanks to all who wrote.

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