Sunday, May 1, 2011

The Pride of an Entrepreneur

Entrepreneurs share many common experiences, that I would imagine non-entrepreneurs cannot experience. Recently I have been thinking about one of my favorite experiences as an entrepreneur - providing other people with work.

At the present time, about 35 people work with A Pass Educational Group. This means that over the course of a month, I write about 35 checks to employees and freelancers. Every time I write a check I have a good feeling. I am making a difference. People who work for me count on their financial compensation, just as I count on their productive output. (I really hope that this does not sound arrogant, but it feels good to provide others with work and compensation.) Of course, I need money, as well. Without my associates I would not be able to make money either.

Sometimes I stop and think about the backgrounds of some of the people who work with me - stay at home mothers; recent college graduates; more mature people towards the end of their careers; etc. Without the money that these people are making they would not be able to live in the ways that they do live.

Interestingly, as an entrepreneur I also make decisions that affect my entire business. These decisions can either provide my associates with more work or less work. Several days ago I had the opportunity to make just such a decision. A client of mine asked if we would like to develop 10 courses for her institution. I accepted the work several hours later and hours later heard back from the client. Another vendor had communicated with this client before me. Consequently, the client had awarded the other vendor half of the work. She wanted to know if we were still interested in doing half the work.

This situation upset me. Of course, I thought about the situation from my own perspective as opposed to that of anybody else's. Earlier in my life I would have made a very quick decision in this scenario. I would likely have responded "no thank you." I would have explained that I thought I was wronged and that since we couldn't trust the client we weren't going to do work with her. (Needless to say, I am building a successful company now and I didn't build one earlier in my life.)

Though I was initially upset, I recognized that the client was still offering me a significant amount of work. This work would obviously allow me to earn extra money. It also would have provided additional work for my associates. Rather than rejecting the work, I sent back a note that we would love to do the work. I explained that I viewed this work as an initial opportunity together and that hopefully our work together would expand and last a long time. I made this decision because I was not only thinking about myself. I was thinking about people who work with me.

(Interestingly and tangentially, my client's decision makes a lot more sense to me today than it did several days ago. After all, how would I have felt if I had been the second vendor? While I interpreted the client's initial letter as offering me work, it is possible that she did not interpret it in this way?)

As an entrepreneur I have the opportunity to provide other people with work. But, in order to do this successfully, I must make decisions that while not feeling good in the moment, are ultimately the right decisions.