The Six “F” Words Every Entrepreneur Should Know

Start your own business, and soon enough, you find yourself in a situation
where there are many things you want to say, all of them unprintable.

It happens to every entrepreneur—a moment of extreme challenge that causes you to wonder why you started the (expletive) business in the first place. I’ve had my share of those moments since starting our public relations firm in March 2002.

But while trading notes with a fellow entrepreneur recently, I started to think
about all the moments of extreme challenge I left behind when I decided I no
longer wanted to be somebody else’s employee.

That got me thinking about what really matters to me as an entrepreneur. As I
shared my thoughts with my friend, a new list developed—the “F” words I
believe every entrepreneur should know. They’ve done the job for me so far,
keeping me rooted, married and talking to my kids while we build a successful
business. I hope they have the same effect for you.

1. Faith: I’m not a street corner preacher, but I have a deep and abiding faith
that starting my business is what I was meant to do in life. I also have a strong
faith that I’ve been given the tools to do the job—even in a moment of extreme
challenge. Without faith in yourself, in your business and in your purpose, how
can you succeed as an entrepreneur?

2. Family: My wife and daughters are the most important people in my life.
Starting my business has enabled me to put them at the center of my life,
where they belong. Oh yes, I work long and hard, but today, it’s with a clear
purpose. The generations of entrepreneurs who built this country understood
this principle. Their businesses often bore the family name, and generations of
people who were born, lived and died together managed to build great
businesses together.

3. Friends: Fortune 500 companies have boards of directors. Entrepreneurs
have friends. When no one else will listen, friends will. When others fail to see
the beauty of the product or solution, friends will. And when no one else will
talk straight to you about a dumb business move, friends will. And they won’t
send you a bill.

4. Focus: It’s nice to say you’re an entrepreneur, that you are your own boss.
But do you have the commitment to turn that idea into true success? The
ultimate measure is your ability not only to set a goal, but stick with it, despite
those moments of extreme challenge. You may have to change course along
the way, but like a good sailor, you focus, keeping your business pointed to the
right shore.

5. Finances: Let’s face it—most of us strike out as entrepreneurs because we
believe we can improve our financial situation. I know I have not missed the
constraining limits and minuscule salary increases of corporate America. How
much do I want to make this year? There is only one answer: How hard am I
willing to work? And there is only one reason to ask that question: to make
good on my commitment to all the “F” words that rank ahead of money on my

6. Freedom: This may be the greatest gift of entrepreneurship. But it is the one
that comes only after you can act on all the other “F” words in your
entrepreneurial vocabulary. So many entrepreneurs strike out to find success,
which they define as freedom from all the things they hated about working for
someone else. Unfortunately for these folks, they lack a true entrepreneurial
vision—they’re merely running away from something. True entrepreneurial
freedom comes from a vision that encompasses what’s really important to you.

Are these the only “F” words an entrepreneur needs to know? Obviously not.
But in moments of extreme challenge, remembering these “F” words may help
you weather a moment of extreme challenge without resorting to the
unprintable variety. And if you’re like me, they may also help you remember
why you started the business in the first place.

Paul Furiga is president of WordWrite Communications LLC, a Pittsburgh-based
virtual agency. He is the former editor of the Pittsburgh Business Times, and
has also covered Congress, the White House, edited magazines and written for
publications ranging from Congressional Quarterly to Frequent Flyer magazine.

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