Drive your first shot into the woods and most friendly golfers will give you a “Mulligan” which allows you a second chance to start out right. Lately I feel like I’ve been handed The Entrepreneur’s Mulligan.
Don’t get me wrong, my last business wasn’t a disaster, but there were things I would have changed:
- Over the years, I had painted myself into a corner by having employees on a hodgepodge of bonus plans which reflected my latest thinking on incentives at the time of hiring them. Hire enough people over a long enough period and you have a labyrinth of employee agreements to juggle.
- I had longstanding suppliers we stuck with out of inertia, not because they offered the best of what we needed.
- I had given one-time favours to some customers, only to have them taken for granted as long term elements of our relationship.
And because all of those things involved people and emotions and drama, they weren’t as easy to change as it was to write them just now. Over time, my business began to feel like how I imagine an artist feels mid-way through a painting when she realizes she selected the wrong-sized canvass: it’s too late to turn back, but it will forever be a flawed piece of work in the artist’s mind.
And that’s one of the things you can look forward to after selling your business: you will get a blank sheet of paper and some time to design your next company. I think we entrepreneurs are creative souls and every artist is striving to create their masterpiece. Can you name a song writer who wrote only one tune? How about a legendary architect who designed just one building or a photographer who took just one picture?
So why would an entrepreneur want one business as their legacy?
Scribbling on my blank sheet
I for one have started to jot down some ideas about my next business. My first few baby steps have been to:
- Develop a long terms vision and a set of values for my company which I personally find motivating and I think will resonate with people who come to work with me.
- Write an analogy for my new business which will quickly communicate the business idea to people who want to get involved.
- Quantify a 10-year goal and a basic strategy.
I’m sure I won’t get this business completely right either. And nor does the golfer who gets a second chance at their tee shot hit a hole-in-one. But that’s not the point. I’m just savouring that sense of excitement you get when someone gives you another chance to do it all over again.
So, have you taken your Mulligan?