As many of you know, I’m new to this solo practice endeavor. But, it’s not my first round of self-employment. I’ve worked legal contract jobs before, and loved it.  What’s more, is a grew up as the daughter of a self-employed father.  Perhaps Father’s Day has me thinking about this.  I totally blame my dad for my inability to take direction, my problems with authority (in a good way, mostly), and my perfectionist nature.

What I’ve come to realize lately, though, is that most, if not all, of the entrepreneurs that I know share one major trait: we are never satisfied with “good enough.”

Many lawyers are not good business people.  Many lawyers start in solo or small practices because they have nowhere else to go, and can’t find jobs in their field.  Many lawyers do not enjoy marketing or growing their business.  I am not like many lawyers.  But I am like most entrepreneurs.

Being self-employed is an endless job.  It literally never ends.  I find myself waking up in the middle of the night with the next great marketing idea.  As a lawyer, I always found myself thinking at all hours about client matters and cases I was working on.  Now, too, I find myself thinking about firm administration constantly.  I have always had a hard time leaving cases at the office; and now my office is at least partially downstairs at all times.  I am tempted to leave a notepad next to my bed at night so when I wake up with a brilliant idea I’m not afraid that I’ll forget it.  Is this a sign of OCD? Why oh why does my brain not want to work the normal 8-5?

There is one bad thing that goes along with never being satisfied, however.  If you don’t meet your goals (and it’s impossible to ALWAYS meet ALL of your goals), there is a crushing sense of guilt.  I took a few weeks off from blogging recently, and it’s literally be weighing on my mind constantly.  I feel guilty–like I abandoned my followers (all three of you)! But sometimes people get writer’s block. I wasn’t feeling very creative, and summer time has me lethargic! So, I find it ironic that with all of the recent newsworthy topics, I choose to blog about entrepreneurship and the never ending quest for perfection… at the exact moment when I have totally failed at my marketing goals… Well, this is me getting back on the horse.

I recently read up on this phenomena while doing some self-exploration.  A few good articles can be found online at:

  1. Entrepreneurs are Never Satisfied; That’s a Good Thing 
  2. Why Business Owners Should Never Be Happy
  3. 12 Signs You’re an Entrepreneur (including my personal favorites sign: Nobody Wants to Hire You and People Think You’re Crazy)
  4. Why Entrepreneurs Don’t Feel Successful
  5. The 10 Worst Traits of Even the Great Entrepreneurs

I have come to realize that I’ll never recognize when “enough is enough,” but that’s ok.  Apparently, I am not alone in this mindset.  The folks identified this type of thinking by saying:

Ask any entrepreneur and they’ll probably tell you the same thing:
“I’m never satisfied, I always want more.”
“Whenever I get what I want, I then want something new.”
“It can ALWAYS be made better.”
Not just in business, but also in relationships. Not just in sales numbers, but also in living conditions. Not just in efforts from the team, but also in life experiences. There is a level of satisfaction for entrepreneurs that appears to be continuously aimed for, yet rarely fully achieved.  And the truth is – that as much as most of us have realized this faulty thinking strategy, many of us wouldn’t have it any other way.

I am one of the people sitting over here nodding my head enthusiastically in agreement with that sentiment.  And I think that is partially why so many of the folks that I have worked with and worked under find it difficult to lead me.  I abhor the “cancer of complacency” and refuse to do things a certain way just because that’s the way it’s always been done.  There has to be a better way! A true entrepreneur spirit cannot be crushed.  We can be knocked down yes, but we will remain confident.  You can never bend me to your way of thinking. I will never be satisfied with “working my way up the ladder.”
Now that I’m running my own business, I realize that I can recognize the so-called “entrepreneur spirit” in others so much easier.  I can actually see people squandering away their potential working for others who do not support their vision and their goals.  All of this leaves me with one tidbit of advice for other entrepreneur-types:

Don’t settle for less. Find what you want to be and go be it!

Now that I’m on my own, though, how can I deal with the guilt when I don’t hit a goal, or the practical side effects of “never enough?”  Yes, this type of mentality lends itself well to constantly achieving more, to innovation, and to exciting new endeavors.  But this type of mentality can also lead to burnout and craziness.  Where is the happy medium?  Will work-life balance always elude me?  My answer is that it probably will… but I like the advice from I need greater capacity to recognize and celebrate growth and milestones while still looking towards my next goal. I need to foster a culture of celebration within my business.  So, today, because I’m back on the blogging horse, I think I’ll treat myself and my husband to a nice dinner!

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