When I started coaching business executives, I heard their sometimes-desperate desire to “be free.” I’d tell them about my path to freedom, and they would give me a look of disbelief. No matter how much or how often I repeated it, it just sounded too strange or too unlikely. So I decided to write a book about it. And I decided to find my past employees, if I could, and get them to tell the story in their words. I wanted them to tell the good and the bad. What they liked and didn’t like. I wanted them to be honest about why this was different. And I’m hoping it will give credibility to my experience—an experience you can have too.
The premise my book, “The Key to the Golden Handcuffs,” is to inspire you to create a transparent, open-book company as a path to success. Part of that success is that employees are contributing partners in the business and are rewarded for being so by having compensation attached to the profitability of your company. Employees involved in decision making and problem solving at every stage and in any matter that affects them are people who feel valued and appreciated for their contribution, whether they work for money or not. That is the secret that is not so secret anymore.
Being an entrepreneur is as exciting as it is fraught with peril. You have to be willing to risk your time, your savings, and often your sense of self in order to get off the ground. And it is hard. If it weren’t hard, everyone would own a business, right? More fail than prosper. Those are the nasty statistics. If you are in the throes of starting a business, you know full well the stress it creates. And when you are starting your business that is your first experience with the handcuffs. These are the metaphorical cuffs that lock you to your business. They lock you physically as you slave over your sales, marketing, and product development. Then they lock you into your bookkeeping, customer service, and operations.
Finally, if things start to work out, you will hire employees and the big kahuna handcuffs keep you managing others, which by the way is much more difficult than you thought it would be. Why? Because you can’t leave employees alone for a minute. You aren’t sure if you can trust them. They never do what you want them to, and so the idea that you are chained to your business, while not true for everyone, is true for many. You become cuffed physically, mentally, and spiritually. And if you are successful, they are golden.
I had golden handcuffs. I never read anything that told me what I needed to do, but I learned, through my own willfulness and accident, what it looks like when you have a business that works without you — a business that works without handcuffs. I found the key. And the key is me. The key is creating an atmosphere where everyone becomes a contributing partner in the business. I want to tell you my story and help you remove your golden handcuffs. You will not only set yourself free, but you will set free all of the amazing people who work for you. You hold their key in your hand too.