Ron opens Chapter 5: The Rules by emphasizing the importance to entrepreneurs of rules.
Entrepreneurship is a tug-of-war and you are the rope. Total commitment to the battle pulls at one end while clear-headed detachment and objectivity heaves at the other.
If you’re going to stay in one piece, pay close attention to this chapter. Rich will discuss several key concepts and methods that have helped him maintain sanity as he has been pulled by the opposing forces of the bootstrapping tug-of-war. Neither Rich nor I would be where we are without having created and followed our own sets of rules. Have we fallen and been dragged through the mud pit? Yes—and you will, too. To minimize the damage of these muddy encounters, though, you must make and live by rules.
It is vital that you understand the importance of making rules for your company and for yourself. But, as Rich will explain, it is not enough to just make the rules. You must have the discipline required to live the rules. To help you remember that first foundational rule, Rich will give you a firsthand look at some of the rules he has created for his bootstrap tug-of-wars.
In the next section, Rich will address the issue of how people frequently confuse their original lifestyle vision when creating their business. So many entrepreneurs build a business to support a chosen lifestyle, only to end up creating the exact opposite. Rich will explain this intriguing dichotomy and show you how to stick with your original intent.
In memory of our rock-’n-roll days, Rich and I have entitled the third section, “Hold on Loosely, But Don’t Let Go.” He will tackle the challenge of knowing when to let a business go in order to move on to the next opportunity. This is much easier to write about than to do, which brings us back to that same old tug-of-war.
What about the slippery slope of setting proper expectations with your trust relationships? How do you negotiate business and life with your significant other, family, partners, investors, bankers, and team members? In the fourth section, you’ll see that the outcome of this tug-of-war has lasting consequences. But winning on the business front and on the personal front is possible if you stick to the rules outlined in all of five sections of this chapter. We have both done it.
Finally, Rich will boldly advise you to not risk what you can’t lose. Do you really want to play Russian roulette with your kids’ college funds? If things go south, is mortgaging the house to fund your venture something you can live with? Should you really be sucking gas out of your retirement tank? Think carefully about these questions as you read on and learn to stick to your rules.
Start thinking at this point about what your rules might be. We’ll dig into Rich’s rules next time.