Blurred Vision Don't expect your employees to be carbon copies of yourself. It takes an owner to have the dedication of an owner.
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When Martin Renkis founded Cary, North Carolina-based learningsoftware company Trainersoft.com Corp. eight years ago, hewas the company. He did all the work alone, putting in17-hour days amid the rented confines of his 6-foot-by-8-footoffice space in a Nashville, Tennessee, office building. ForRenkis, a typical day meant working from 8:30 a.m. to 7 p.m., thentrekking to a nearby pub for dinner before heading back to theoffice and working until 1 or 2 in the morning. He was in survivalmode. "I was doing everything myself and kept thinking,'What do I need to do to get some business today?' Therewere times that my phone and electricity were cut off because Icouldn't pay the bills," he says.
Most entrepreneurs can relate to Renkis' story. After all,starting a company can easily consume every waking moment,especially in the early years when an entrepreneur issingle-handedly keeping the company afloat. Eventually, everysuccessful company reaches a point where it's time to hire someemployees. Renkis hired his first employee, a sales assistant who"did a bit of everything," a year and a half after hestarted Trainersoft. But while Renkis continued on his typicalschedule, he noticed that his employee was heading out the door by6 p.m. to spend time with his kids. It didn't sit well withRenkis. "I'd still be working, and this guy would leavefor the day," says Renkis, 38. "I'd be seethinginside, thinking, 'Where is his commitment to my company?'It took me years to change my way of thinking."
It's easy for new entrepreneurs to expect the same level ofdedication from employees that they expect from themselves. Infact, most entrepreneurs have a blind spot when it comes to settingreasonable expectations for workers, according to Andrew DuBrin, anindustrial psychologist and professor of management at theRochester Institute of Technology in Rochester, New York."Entrepreneurs are so wrapped up in building the company thatthey automatically assume employees have the same level ofcommitment," he says. "But you have to be realisticbecause the employee is not the owner. This forces you to setreasonable expectations." But in this "new economy,"where people eat, sleep and breathe work, what isreasonable?