Fostering independence

As my kids get older, they are testing some new-found independence. Going places on their own, making purchasing decisions, trying new things. It got me thinking about those of you venturing off into entrepreneurship for the first time. Nothing, in my experience, feels more independent! But the heady feeling that comes with having no one to tell you what to do can lead you down some pretty uncomfortable paths. There’s no lesson like one learned by experience, but some of those experiences can be pretty unpleasant. As we in the U.S. celebrate our collective independence, a gentle reminder:

  • With independence comes responsibility. Trust, once earned, is not a given. Demonstrate through your actions and words that you understand the trust that’s been extended to you. Your customers trust you – keep earning that trust.
  • Independence does not mean making your own rules. There are still conventions you must follow and basic fundamentals that you should adhere to. You can’t ignore your financial results (or the IRS).
  • Independence doesn’t mean toughing through everything yourself. Why not take advantage of the lessons learned by others? The best managers seek out people who know more than they do – not to tell them what to do, but to present them with options and ideas.

It’s nice that my kids are more independent, but I still lay down some rules:

  • At any given time, be where you are supposed to be and with the people you are supposed to be with.
  • If we didn’t let you do it last week when we were with you (ride your bike without a helmet, hang out with kids you don’t know, buy a 16 oz. Coke at the ballpark an hour before bed) we probably won’t be thrilled to find out you did it when we weren’t there.
  • If you need help, ask – I always tell my kids, “I can’t promise I won’t yell at you, but I can promise that when I’m done yelling , I’ll help you fix the problem.”

Enjoy your independence today – the pomp, the partying, and especially  the fireworks!