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How To Be an Entrepreneur Without Becoming a Jerk

How To Be an Entrepreneur Without Becoming a Jerk

by Eric Knopf

I had a friend working for a startup who recently quit because the founder and CEO was a total jerk. Overhearing some nightmare stories about how the CEO treated his people personally and professionally inspired me to help other would-be entrepreneurs avoid becoming despicable CEOs.

1) Find A Hobby Outside Of Your Business

If you say, “my business is my life” then you might be an unredeemable jerk in the making. I’ve learned that people who merge business with their sense of personal identity have no life outside of their business bubble, and develop a skewed and toxic obsession with business. This “tunnel vision”, makes them incapable of balancing business excellence with preserving human dignity — making people a means to an end. That’s a recipe for disaster. Set aside time for activities; ride a bike, go to the gym, start a new hobby, meet up with some old friends. Practice life outside of business so you don’t ruin people on your way to success.

2) Practice Giving

Entrepreneurship and small business success can be intoxicating. You can go from years of struggle and strife to massive profits overnight. A possible drawback to sudden success is you can become a ruthless, money-hoarding scrooge. Now, we understand it took a lot of blood, sweat and tears to make it to the top but don’t allow the fear of losing money to override every other concern. Make it a practice to give money away to causes and charities. It has extremely positive effects when you let money go on your own terms. If you can’t give away $500, chances are you will freak out over a $5 employee mistake.

3) Change Your Scenery

People fall into ruts doing the same thing day after day. You might find yourself becoming a dull, boring drone simply because there was no variety in your workweek. Make it a habit of getting out and getting away from the office — and we’re not talking just a 15 minute coffee break. Each year, I take a month away in Santa Barbara and carry on my work where I can get a fresh perspective and change up the daily routine. Taking a step back allows you to reassess how you are doing and what changes you need to make to your work life.

4) Turn Off and Tune Out

The latest smart phones can allow remote operation of your business from almost anywhere in the world. While I’ve found this level of connectivity rocks, it’s also important to set aside time to disconnect. I find myself constantly looking at my phone for emails, tweets, messages and other minute distractions, which end up amounting to a lot of lost time. Being continually absorbed in your phone can also come across as very obnoxious to the people around you. When you turn off your phone, you get back to being a considerate human being, an individual capable of interacting with others like a courteous adult.

5) Work With Smarter People Than You

“Entrepreneur” is synonymous with “control freak” meaning you would rather do something yourself than risk someone else doing it wrong. Some entrepreneurs have issues with their ego, preventing them from admitting anyone can do something better than them.  If you consistently think and express you can perform a duty better than someone else, you’re going to come off like a know-it-all jerk. Try to hire people that can do things better than you, even if you’re adequately skilled in that area. Hiring individuals whose talent impresses you won’t allow room to think with a superiority complex.

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