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Practical Entrepreneurship

Last week I declared 2010 to be “The Year of the Entrepreneur”.  I promised this week to give you a practical illustration of what it means to be an entrepreneur – which actions a real-life entrepreneur might be taking right now.  I offer myself as an example, not because I think I get it right, but because I don’t quit.  I keep trying new things, exploring new ideas, and pursuing new ventures until a path opens up or the door slams closed.

I’m doing a lot right now to grow my business.  Sometimes it feels like I never stop working; I take quick breaks and then get back to one project or another.  I won’t let myself get complacent.  I’ll put on however many “hats” it takes to fulfill my dreams for myself and my institute.

Here’s a list of the ideas and projects I’m working to develop right now.  I don’t know how many of them will pay off, but I’m determined to fully investigate their possibilities:

  1. Veteran’s Program
    Veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan need new kinds of help.  Based on my years of experience working with patients with physical and emotional trauma and PTSD, I want to develop new programs and skills, new types of evaluations and tools, and new treatment combinations to help veterans and their families with the traumatic aftermath of military service overseas.
  2. New satellite office in downtown Petaluma
    A new office downtown makes practical sense for the institute.  It would provide a convenient location for many of the programs I’m considering, such as the Veteran’s program, as well as for individual patients.  It would allow me to interact more closely with my community.
  3. Outreach to the Petaluma business community
    People in the Petaluma business community – like many communities now – have a tremendous need for practical support with stress.  They’re willing to work hard, but as hard as they’re working they’re barely surviving.  Our institute can come to them with support, encouragement, and professional help for the effects of their stress not only personally, but in their relationships, with their families and children, with their co-workers, and on the job.
  4. Training programs
    Segments of the professional community, such as police, fire, and other first-responders are under stress both financially and from the inherent exposure to trauma in their professions.  We can help them retain readiness and effectiveness on the job, and learn to maintain good judgment and discernment with the public, while they are dealing with the pressure from budget cuts.
  5. Debriefing programs
    Traumatic events take a toll on EMTs, police, fire, hospital emergency room doctors and nurses, as well as the military.  I’m in the process of putting together a debriefing intervention team to help affected personnel recover from horrific events or series of events.  From observing the victimization of the people they’ve dedicated themselves to serve and protect, these first-responders experience what I call “secondary trauma”.  We can help.
  6. Increase staff skills
    There’s always more my staff and I could learn to increase our ability to help people heal physical and emotional pain.  We can take workshops, read, and practice and expand our skills and sensitivities.
  7. Expand staffing
    I would love to see some new team members join our institute and bring new treatment tools with them to add to the types of therapies we can offer our patients.
  8. Fundraising
    Fundraising will be a key to our success this year.  In the past, my wife and I sustained the institute from our own funds when we took on patients with special needs who were unable to afford treatment.  With the economic downturn, we can’t do that anymore.  Our funds have been depleted due to the substantial needs for therapy that have developed lately.  I want to learn how to tap the great charitable spirit of our community, explore grants and donor programs, as well as government contracts and partnerships.  The learning curve for me in this area is extremely steep.
  9. New treatment protocols
    I anticipate that the institute will grow and our staffing will grow.  When that happens, I will need to have institute policies and treatment procedures documented and internal training programs formalized. In the past,  I’ve had the luxury of time for more informal, one-on-one development for my current staff.  I can see that will change and I’ll need new systems in place.
  10. New workshops
    I have given workshops to numerous professional, business, charitable, and educational groups.  I would like to expand the number of workshops I have available to offer and create proposals, outlines, and resources for them.  I want to have a ready, off-the-shelf series at hand for when I meet with people and groups in the community.
  11. Spiritual growth
    I’m not talking here about being religious.  I’m talking about deepening our spiritual connection in applied, practical ways.  I want to help my staff better deal with the tough impact and bombardment of pain, discouragement, hopelessness, and despair our patients bring to us as they seek resolution and healing.  I know we all – myself included – can’t do this work without God’s ever available support and strength.  He is behind everything we do at the institute
  12. Book
    Last year, I began writing the book I have been contemplating and formulating for years but have put off because I thought I was “too busy”.  I realized that if I didn’t start writing, it would never happen.  I have a fairly complete first draft finished.  Getting this draft edited and ready for review by agents and publishers is one of my top priorities.  My book will deliver a message that I want to get into the hands of hurting people everywhere, who are suffering from childhood trauma or the devastating effects of horrific events and experiences.  I want them to know – there is hope.

Several of these projects have been in process for some time.  Some are new this year.  If you check back with me in three month’s time about my entrepreneurial activities, I expect the list will look different.

But I welcome challenge and change.  Not because it always feels good, in fact it usually doesn’t.  I want to let you in on something to beware of – life in the “comfort zone”.  The comfort zone is comfortable, yes, but it’s also a trap.  It’s a sidetrack on your journey to a life of satisfaction and fulfillment. It’s a crippling temptation to stop, compromise your dreams, and be less than you are meant to be.

This is an especially long post.  I want you to really get a picture of what I mean by entrepreneurship, and to be your coach and mentor.  I want to inspire you to step out in your life and your business.

Entrepreneurs don’t quit and don’t give up.  They call on courage and strength to keep going, and rely on God, family and friends to stay on their path.  Let this be true for you.