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Do you have the ‘Entrepreneur’s Curse’??

In my role, I help CEO’s and Entrepreneurs in the Healthcare and Wellness industry, often when times are very rough. In some cases their companies are financially cash strapped and they are almost broke.

For the CEO’s of larger companies, stress management is just as important as strategy management, and so I help them in both of these areas.

However, for the smaller organisations, I note a very similar behaviour pattern or condition that I have noted several times in the past. In fact, it’s a condition that I have also been afflicted with in the past.

The condition is called the ‘Entrepreneur’s Curse’.

To understand this curse, first you have to understand the mindset of an entrepreneur. An entrepreneur is often someone that is optimistic and full of bright ideas. A true entrepreneur has the courage to take some of these ideas and turn them into viable businesses.

However, what happens very often is one of two things:

1. Before Business no. 1 becomes a success, the entrepreneur has already started working on business no. 2 (and possibly even business no. 3)

2. Within business no. 2, the entrepreneur has already dedicated his or her limited time to a multitude of projects, tasks and activities, all of which are ‘good ideas’ to him or her, but do not necessarily align the with cash flow requirements of the business

3. The entrepreneur has spent so much developing new ideas (the exciting stuff), that he or she has not focussed on the MOST IMPORTANT AREAS OF FOCUS and developed that ONE BUSINESS to become the greatest source of income and success.

In short, the entrepreneur has spread himself or herself too thin, to point that the business never really succeeds and occasionally reaches a point of failure of bankruptcy.

In effect, this curse is actually a ‘blessing’ or ‘gift’ as the ability to continuously generate great ideas is a special ability to be cherished. However it does have a major downside if it is not checked.

In the last few weeks, I have particularly come across several entrepreneurs that are experiencing this ‘curse’.

One entrepreneur in particular had experienced a repeated set of failures, from office supplies, to property failures and subsequently wanted to start a range of healthcare products.

In most circumstances, while I strongly encourage greater entrepreneurship in the wellness industry, in this case
I actually advised him not to do it. It would have made his problems (and his debt) even larger and he needed to focus on more near term business growth opportunities.

Here’s the thing – if you haven’t learnt your lessons from past failures, the universe will keep hitting you over the head with the same lessons until you learn them!

Everyone has a unique set of stories and business experiences when they come to me and its important to identify what an entrepreneur really wants in their business and in life, before providing advice of any kind. So here’s a few pieces of general advice if you think you may be suffering from the healthcare ‘entrepreneur’s curse’.

1. It still surprises me how many business owners, particularly in healthcare, have not set themselves a financial goal. One tip I can provide here, is make sure you have set financial targets that are aligned with your business values as well as how you truly define success and happiness in life.

So many start up entrepreneurs want to create a business dollar company, yet very few actually do. If you have set a big goal – great, but ask yourself – does it really have to be a billion dollars?

Start with a more short term goal and work your way up from there. Your financial goals will help you determine a more focussed strategy for your health business.

2. Get OBJECTIVE advice on how your personal performance and business style affects your business. There is a tendency to rely on friends or family or occasionally, one-off advisors and whilst this can be helpful, solving these issues, especially when the business is in financial trouble, requires more intense support.

In my experience, a solid Advisory Board can help but more importantly I have found regular business coaching or mentoring to make the most difference. The reason for this is that entrepreneurs can get distracted VERY QUICKLY, even daily, and such there needs to be that sounding board to be there as regular as possible to get this back on track.

A good coach can save you millions and help make you millions, depending on the size of your business. Therefore I strongly recommend paying for a professional that is willing to accompany you on your business journey long term.

3. Finally, I would also strongly recommend mapping out all your projects , major tasks and activities on a simple project mapping tool like Basecamp (hyperlink to www.basecamp.com).

It is incredibly insightful to observe how many projects & activities you may be currently in, what may bring you short term revenue and which are the longer term options, in order to strike the right balance for your cash flow forecasts.

I recall conducting this exercise with Energesse and at one point we found that we were way overcommitted on the number of initiatives that we were involved with and actually ended up scrapping or holding off half of them!!

So, in summary know that your entrepreneur’s curse is also your gift. However, be sure that if you want to help as many people as possible with your healthcare and wellness organisation, then you need to be AWARE of how you are managing these sides of yourself and how it affects your business.

When was one time when you experienced the ‘Entrepreneur’s curse’?

About the Author: Dr Avnesh Ratnanesan

Dr Avi is a medical doctor with broad healthcare sector experience including hospitals, biotech, pharmaceuticals and the wellness industry. He is a leading expert who coaches and consults to senior executives, entrepreneurs, practitioners, organisations and governments.