One of the things I struggle with most as an entrepreneur, is to acknowledge that my perception of time is different from everyone around me.
It is hard to focus on one thing for a full day. There are so many things that keep me busy. Things that preoccupy my thoughts and drive my actions.
My train of thought is unendless, I want to get on board today, not miss a single opportunity, build the road ahead and know what my destination will be at the end of the journey; needless to say, an impossible task for any single human being. Yet, I cannot really help myself.
My thoughts are what they are. I want to move forward, build the future and dictate the general direction, intrinsically.
It is my own perception of time that I often times struggle with. The constant need for speed, wanting to know where I am heading and making sure that everyone is on board. I believe our perception of time drives our actions. And it is this sense of time, that is intrinsically different for various people and stakeholders in the life I lead.
My team members‘ (employees‘) time horizons are nice and long. Their personal goals shift as they are with the company longer; become a part of the organization.
It starts with the simple need to „make it passed“ the probation period; an important milestone for most. New team members need to prove themselves to their peers. The actions they take in the first initial months, are an important indication of how they will perform in the long run. Even-though I personally do not feel highly of probation periods, they are an important part of the employee life-cycle.
It is a challenge for me to recognize their needs on time and understand what it is each individual wants to achieve, next.
After teamies have become an integral part of the group, their goals change to gain the next position within the company; regardless of whether or not they want to move up or horizontally within the organization, the employees generally think in roles. Let‘s say they „know“ it will generally take them three years to reach the next level within the organization, they will work toward that goal.
You could argue that bonus payments are time goals too, but I believe an employee hardly ever changes their time / personal plans based on short term monetary goals. It is the perspective that counts. They don‘t think in days or weeks, but half-years and possibly years at the very least.
My clients have mid term goals. 9 out of 10 customers need to achieve something within the next few quarters; show traction and promising developments.
They usually know where they would like to be in a couple of years, but not necessarily what the short term future looks like. The clients I work with, are always in a hurry, but it does not truly hurt them to not finish something this week – or next month.
The time horizon of larger companies generally fits my perception of time, too. Yet, the speed of execution is different and most importantly, the attention to detail of the steps in between. Corporate clients know where they want to be 5-10 years from now, but they hardly ever know what the stops are they need to take in between and how to build the most efficient road to get there.
What is challenging, employees and teams in larger companies, hardly ever really feel time time pressure. When a deadline is missed, you set another one. As an entrepreneur, I do not have that luxury. Missing a deadline could be fatal to our cashflow and/or a huge blow to our (still very young) reputation.
My time horizon is incredibly short and ridiculously long at the same time. I am regularly torn between the need to provide for the team, tomorrow and the thought of my long term legacy, 10 to 20 years from now.
I want to create an organization and a company that will last. I will create a foundation for others to build on; significantly larger than me and my vision of the „near“ future.
So, how do I combine all of these different time lines and expectations as an entrepreneur?
I can’t. I need to recognize that they are there, try to understand the complex nature of time and learn to work on expectation at all times. But, I cannot change the fact that my perception of time is different from that of everybody else.
Train of thought
Time is the one thing that is not on my side. I feel this is the single biggest challenge I have as an entrepreneur.
I need to make things happen to be relevant.
By relevant I mean „market relevant,“ fast enough to tailor to the current market needs, those of my clients and more importantly, the team around me. I know that as an entrepreneur, time is never on my side.
There is just one way to move forward, ride the train of time.
However, I have the ambition to be in the first carriage, and ideally become the driver of that train. I need to determine the pace, have a clear view of the road ahead and lead by example and leave no one behind. Everyone on my train of thought must understand the direction we are taking and why we are in this together.
Never too late
Those in the last train carriage, will travel at the same speed as the ones in the front, even if they feel the information on where we stand today, reaches them last. I have learned that I am not afraid to arrive late at my destination, simply because my time goal is far faster than that of most others.
However, I am afraid of missing the train altogether, and not communicating enough whilst on the train to keep everyone happy, enjoy the ride. Time is not on our side, but we must get on board and enjoy the ride.