Jan 12, 2024 2 min read

Entrepreneurship Is Like a Self-Imposed ‘Escape Room’. Beware the Trap.

Entrepreneurs and other business leaders often underestimate the time and effort required to bring their ideas to fruition. This can be a ‘trap’.
Entrepreneurship Is Like a Self-Imposed ‘Escape Room’. Beware the Trap.

With the clock ticking, your heart racing, and sweat glistening on your brow, you and your escape room team focuses intently to solve the ciphers, puzzles, and story-based challenges that will result in your freedom. If you’re successful. 

An escape room is similar to entrepreneurship. You and your team need to follow the clues and wrangle the resources to reach your goal: success, whatever the form…IPO, getting acquired and cashing out, etc. 

However, underestimating how much time it will take for any aspect of your business development efforts - along with trying to do too much too fast - can be a ‘trap’ of sorts that I have seen many, many entrepreneurs and business leaders fall into. Ambition and lofty goals are good but can have unexpected outcomes and consequences. 

I have built several companies from the ground up and advised dozens of entrepreneurs doing the same. It’s common for high-drive, high-performing leaders to ‘shoot for the moon’.

Somewhere along the way, though, things don’t pan out. Goals are missed. Product development doesn’t stay on schedule. Sales and revenue falter for one reason or another.

Spreadsheets are easy. Execution is hard.

Just know that everything about executing your plan will take longer than you hope, want, expect, or plan. 

Entrepreneurs often underestimate the time and effort required to bring their ideas to fruition. 

Even the ‘buffer’ that you build in may not be enough. So sometimes, you wildly underestimate how much time, effort, and investment something will take.

Leaders should keep this in mind and let it ‘ground’ them in reality. And if you’re the type of person who has a difficult time being both the ‘kite’ and the ‘string’, make sure you have a least one person in your close circle of influence - on staff or on an advisory board - who isn’t shy about asking the hard questions, giving pushback, and helping you see things realistically.

When things fall short or don’t quite meet expectations, go easy on yourself - and your team

If your teams were focused and performed well but the company still didn’t realize outcomes as quickly as you expected, remember who established the direction and decided on the ‘big hairy goals’. And don’t come down too hard on either yourself or your people.

There may have been challenges or issues out of your control that you couldn’t have foreseen or accounted for.

So cut yourself some slack and acknowledge that you may have been overambitious.

One key to the escape room: priorities & proper delegation

You may try to do everything, wear every hat, but you can’t. 

There are things that excite and energize you, and things that wear you down like a stuck brake pad. 

As a leader, it’s ok to identify the things you enjoy, that you’re passionate about, and that have high business impact.

Do those things.

Everything else, delegate. These things drain your energy, detract from your passion and productivity and don’t have as much of an impact on the business.

Do this, and you’ll experience faster business growth.

Here’s to a successful year!

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