Many of my fellow entrepreneurs tell me and each other two things. First, they never guessed that owning a business would be such hard work.  Second, they complain about how much trouble employees are.  They are right.  Owning a business is hard work.  Employees are a part of that hard work.

According to Carol Roth in her CHANGE THIS white paper titled Sober Entrepreneurship   these are some of the things an
entrepreneur may not have planned on, but must do:

Fine Tuning  Business Model    Creating Updated Business Plans             Hiring Employees            Managing Employees                Training Employees        Investing Money      Taking on Risk & Opportunity Cost          Designing Products/Services      Manufacturing Products               Finding Retailers or Resellers             Building Out Your Store      Performing Services       Identifying Customers  Marketing to Customers              Servicing Customers      Performing        Customer Service            Automating     Your Systems     Managing Logistics         Following the Competition         Outmaneuvering the Competition          Creating New Innovations                Managing Your Brand     Protecting Intellectual Property               Decreasing Operating Costs        Managing Your
Service Providers

You can find all of Carol’s paper here:   You can also visit Carol’ web site

The shock of having to do all this often destroys the small entrepreneur.  This is even truer, if the entrepreneur is from the corporate world. In that world he or she was usually tasked with only one or two of those activities.   For everything else there was corporate structure and corporate employees.


Employees are the next most mentioned problem.  Employees are not your most important asset.  If they were an asset,  you could
sell them.  Employees can either be your tools, or they can be your business.  If you are a micro manager, they will be your tools.  Tools don’t work by themselves.

If you are able to lead, they can, indeed, become the foundation of your business.  Can you state your vision, communicate the mission, lay out reasonable boundaries, set expectations, delegate, and get out-of-the-way? If you can, your employees can perform many of the functions that make small business so hard. They will perform them best when they have competence, autonomy, and relatedness.

Competence is pretty obvious.  Most of us are uncomfortable doing what we are not particularly good at doing.  We look for opportunities to demonstrate our competence.  If we don’t have it, we want to learn it.  Autonomy is simply responsibility for the how of completing a given task, or project.  Somewhere there is someone who really likes to be micro managed, but I have never met them.  However, asking for micromanagement is a common passive aggressive response to already having more than enough of it. It is a great way to shed responsibility and blame.  Relatedness  is knowledge of how the tasks and functions that are assigned fit into the business’s success.  Without Relatedness the employee is performing some sort of absurd dance for money, rather like an organ grinder’s monkey.

Stay tuned.  You are not doomed.


Do you really like it when people interrupt you?  Do you find that constant interruptions  really boost your productivity?  Do you  always look for the noisiest corner to do your work?  If you multitask, you do.

My friends Constant Hine and Debra Larsen are accomplished  trainers and consultants.  They have  created a video on multi-tasking.  Constant and Debra  define the problem with multitasking better than many of the studies I have  read on it.  When you multitask you  constantly “interrupt yourself.”  See  their video here Constant Hine: “Multitasking is a Myth!” video

No, you can’t do two things at once.  A computer can’t do two things at once.  No, it can’t.  It can do a series of quite unalike things in very rapid sequence, but  it can’t do them at the same time. For you the situation is even worse.  You do things by switching your attention  from one thing to another.

You are  working on one thing when you interrupt yourself to respond to a stimulus.  You could ignore the stimulus.  You could even arrange for the stimulus not  to occur, but you respond to it.  You  deal with it and you return to your original task.  Fine, you think.

You have only partially returned to your original task.  You are not focused on it.  It will take you 15 minutes to refocus.  People who appear adept at multitasking are  actually good at “continuous partial attention.”  This translates to doing more than one thing  poorly.

A very common example of this is driving and talking on a  cell phone.  Both of these activities use  the same part of the brain.  A 2006 study  published in Human Factors journal showed that drivers talking on cell phones  were involved in more rear end collisions and sped up more slowly than drivers intoxicated over the 0.08% legal limit.

How many times have you seen some one do something truly  stupid while driving?  How many times did  the driver not have a cell phone or blue tooth clamped to their ear?  It’s the conversation, not holding the phone,  that is the distraction.

So what?  Well, a  couple of things.  Multitasking is only  suitable for tasks that don’t need to be done well.  Maybe the better solution is not to do  them.   Multitasking makes it impossible to focus.  We are constantly remembering a little of  what we just did and worrying about the next interruption.   We are not present for any task.  Remember the last time you went into a room and could not  remember why you did?  Thank multitasking.

To do it well. We must focus.  With a significant refocus time, we can  easily spend the entire day without ever being focused. For things you can  control set a times to do all of each repetitive task.  For things that require more time and focus  block out sufficient time to both focus and complete.  Turn off phones and email announcement to  avoid other interruptions.

A last consideration.  Interruptions by other people and media annoy  us.  Our constant interruption of  ourselves is also an annoyance.  You can  spend your whole day annoying yourself.  What  is the point in that?