Owning a Business May Bring Out the Best In You … Or the Worst

In the May 2013 issue of Inc Magazine Meg Cadoux-Hershberg reports on her study of the personal impact that entrepreneurship has on people.

Her findings are summed up in the sub-title of her article: "Entrepreneurship changes people — and not always for the better."

Launching a business, she found, often reveals hidden strength in a person's character. In other instances it uncovers hidden weaknesses.

"Many people I spoke to for this column," she writes, "confessed that launching a company, for whatever reason, made them less tolerant and more competitive, rigid, demanding, and critical."

Falling In Love With Your Business

She theorizes that this danger is particularly acute for entrepreneurs who fall in love with their business or their business idea. They can be so enamored of their entrepreneurial venture that they have more affection for it than they do for their own family.

If the business then fails, they are left with nothing to dream of. Bereft of aspiration or dreams, they are less prone to put a check on a more negative, cynical, and critical side of their personality.

People who have never owned a business cannot imagine the personal stress it can create.

From my experience I've seen another side of this problem. Most people who have never owned a business before cannot imagine the personal stress involved once salaries and loan payments are dependent on cash flow.

Many business owners manage stress well. Others not so well. And when we are not managing stress well, the ugliest side of our personality tends to gain the upper hand. Unfortunately, our families are the ones most likely to experience the brunt of that ugliness.

I've particularly observed that highly introverted business owners become even more inwardly-focused when stress begins to overwhelm them. As introverts, they are given to working through issues inwardly, not in discussion with others.

But as they go inside more and more to cope with their stress, they simultaneously cut off communication with their mates and children. The family experiences it as withdrawal of interest, involvement, and even affection.

Meg's article reminds us that starting a business is a family affair, even if members of your family are not going to work in it. You can see her entire piece at Inc Magazine Online.

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