How do I satisfy my entrepreneurial itch?

Monday, June 1st, 2009

Dear Norm,
I’ve had the entrepreneurial bug since I was in college fifteen years ago. Now I’m happily married with two sons. Those relationships bring joy and meaning to my life, as well as a lot of responsibility. For that reason, I plan to keep my day job as an executive of a Fortune 500 company, but I feel I must also honor my entrepreneurial itch. I have a great deal of experience and knowledge that I feel would be useful to someone launching a new venture. I’m thinking about volunteering in a startup, donating up to twenty hours of my time per week. In return, I’d ask that I be treated like a partner, but with no salary or equity. What do you think?

Dear Gregory,
I think you should be applauded for making a tough life decision, putting your family obligations first. A lot of people couldn’t do that. And yes, I think your idea has a lot of merit. I also love starting businesses, and I’ve found that I can satisfy my itch by helping other people start theirs. But twenty hours a week sounds way too ambitious. Instead, I’d offer to meet once or twice a week with an entrepreneur to offer advice and serve as a sounding board. You’ll be doing a great service and learning lessons you can put to use when you start your own business—after the kids leave home.
Yours truly, Norm

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