The Entrepreneur’s Trap

Summary Written by Vanessa Chase
"Running the business is not the fun and sexy side of entrepreneurship, but it is essential to your success and sanity."

- The Entrepreneur’s Trap, page ii

The Big Idea

Your Definition of Success Determines Your Systems

"First, decide what kind of success you want to create and then decide how much time, energy and effort you are willing to put into achieving it."- The Entrepreneur’s Trap, page 5

Although Forsyth never fully articulates this, she implies that our concepts and ideas about running a business are backward. Most often, you continually go through the necessary motions to keep things running and assume success will follow. Yet we fail to define what success personally means to us. It ends up being this elusive thing that we are constantly chasing, but never fully grasp. Of course, one of the benefits of entrepreneurship is that you can choose to define things on your own terms.

Forsyth suggests starting with understanding why you started your business. “Your why becomes the touchstone for making decisions about how to run your business”. Most often your why will be related to freedom, money or meaning. After you establish what’s important to you, it is far easier to determine a business model and offers that support this.

Insight #1

Work Expands to Fill the Time Available

"…give yourself a deadline or a time frame in which to do the work and you will make it happen."- The Entrepreneur’s Trap, page 46

Regardless of whether or not you are an entrepreneur, there is a tendency to “always be working” these days. Whether it’s mindlessly checking email on a Saturday afternoon, or working on a project late Friday night, there are a gamut of ways that we have unnecessarily intertwined work with our personal lives. Forsyth is a proponent of having “non-working hours” and with good reason. There are numerous articles and studies that suggest creativity, productivity and overall happiness increase with free time. She suggests laying down the law by giving yourself deadlines for projects and setting non-working hours. Just as Parkinson’s Law suggests, the work will expand (or contract) to fit the allotted time.

While there are a number of tips suggested for creating the boundaries, the one I thought was the most interesting is simply having something more compelling to do. It seems that having hobbies or activities we enjoy doing outside of work have become a thing of the past.

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Insight #2

Do the Work You Love

"It’s not just about working, it’s about doing the work you love."- The Entrepreneur’s Trap, page 85

This idea goes back to the The Big Idea of this book. While there are certain tasks and responsibilities that come with running a business, it is necessary to say no or learn how to delegate. Forsyth suggests that rekindling the reason why you started the business in order to determine what your role really is. What is it that you wanted to do?

In order to shift your focus to what you love to do and avoid a sinking ship situation, there are two things that need to be in place.

  • Systems – These allow you to create a business that functions smoothly, effectively and freely rather than having to spend all of your time putting out fires and trying to keep up. Good systems will also allow you to leverage the growth of your business. This comes down to centralizing and automating as much as possible. Forsyth lists the top ten business systems as – backup, money, scheduling, communication, metrics, marketing, relationships, sales, delivery and business foundation systems.
  • Support – take the time to really figure out what help you need and find someone who is the best fit for the job. This process requires stepping into a leadership role and being okay with delegation. Forsyth points out that this is a powerful process in building faith and trust that will allow your business to flourish.

I noticed many parallels between The Entrepreneur’s Trap and Tim Ferriss’ The Four Hour Work Week in terms of their ideology. But I think that Forsyth’s approach is far more realistic and pragmatic for someone in the trenches. It’s a clear and helpful approach to get your head above water and starting living the life you want.

Read the book

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Tina Forsyth

Having worked online since 1999, Tina Forsyth is a ‘jill of all trades’ when it comes to creating leveraged revenue streams, establishing key systems and building virtual teams to help your business thrive. She is the author of ‘Becoming an Online Business Manager’, co-founder of the International Association of Online Business Managers and creator of the Certified OBM™ program – the only program of it’s kind to train high-end virtual managers. She is also the author of The Entrepreneur’s Trap (coming November 2012) and creator of the Automate Your Growth™ Formula where she teaches entrepreneurs her proven step-by-step process to set a strong foundation for business growth. As an entrepreneur and recovering control-freak, Tina is passionate about sharing her experience and helping other entrepreneurs setup the right systems, team and leveraged revenue streams that allow them to stop working so darn hard and have a business that can run without them. (woo hoo!)

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