I'm not alone. Far from it. There is hardly a moment in the day when I'm not within 10 feet of someone else.
Yet, in the way that all of us – at the root of things – are always alone, the entrepreneur is alone. The co-workers are smart, talented, experienced and hard-working. I love them. But, if you are an entrepreneur, you know what I mean when I write: the entrepreneur is alone in the business.
This alone-ness ("loneliness" doesn't sound right) comes from my not being able to share absolutely everything with every employee. Not only are there business secrets, especially when there are hard staffing decisions to make. There are also personal and family issues that conflict with the entrepreneurial life.
In my experience, keeping this to one's self makes for a lonely entrepreneur.
I am really enjoying EO (the Entrepreneurs Organization, formerly YEO, Young Entrepreneurs Organization).
- There is a local chapter of 50 or so entrepreneurs who get together every couple of months for social and learning purposes. (This is especially helpful for entrepreneurs who are having trouble finding life beyond work and home.)
- There is rich national and international programming.
- And, the best part for me, is a group of eight of us who get together monthly to share business, family and personal experiences in a highly confidential, trained, self-facilitated “forum.”
EO's members are at risk as business owners. The requirements for those seeking to join the Columbus chapter:
- 49 years of age or younger,
- annual gross revenues of $1 million, and
- founder or substantial shareholder.
The cost of membership is $2,000 - $3,000 per year.
I have found it invaluable.
By sharing experiences with smart, ambitious entrepreneurs, I have learned real-life, practical lessons that sailed around me in business school. And these conversations quickly teach that there are two or three sides to most problems: business, family and personal. In an EO forum, all three are regularly discussed.
In the end, being an entrepreneur isn't so lonely.
If you think you might enjoy EO, I’d be glad to introduce you to the membership chair, Brad Halley. Or, of course, you can just ask me any questions you have.
And, more information is available at EO's worldwide website.
What Are The Other Choices?
There is more than EO. Though I've chosen EO, there are other choices for peer-to-peer sharing and learning. One that is worth looking at -- and comparing to EO -- is Vistage, another worldwide organization, where my friend Ken Ackerman leads a local group.