An Entrepreneurial “Downshift”

At the end of last month I stepped down from my position of CEO with the company and took up my new position of Director of Business Development. This move, long planned, by my partner and I finally came around where the intent is for me to move closer to “retirement”. It’s not a word that comes easy to me far less the actual event itself. I’ve been searching around for another word to describe the situation and one of my customers suggested “downshifting”. That’s probably what I’m going to go with in the meantime – “downshifting”. Not that I expect to be exactly taking it easy. The company continues to grow and I intend to play my part in contributing to that in a very meaningful way. As with all transitions, it’s a time for reflection (at least for me) and I thought about what an exciting 12 years it’s been since Dave Roger and I founded this company. I also thought about the highs and lows that come with being entrepreneurs. Unless you’ve tried it no-one can possibly understand what it’s like.- sleepless nights, 7 day work weeks, the angst of making payroll, hiring and firing, planning, fighting, arguing, laughing and complaining, exciting, joyful, depressing …. It goes on and on. There really is nothing like it since you are operating with no safety net and relying on yourselves and the expertise that you have gained through experience, or through hiring really fine staff (which we have). With that said, I am really, really fed up with our politicians who continually tell us that “small businesses are the backbone of our economy” etc. etc. and yet do virtually nothing for us. Frankly, I wish they would just shut up. The exception for us has been at the local level where the State of Connecticut helped us with a grant, conditional upon creating jobs…. and create jobs we did! So, hats off to this bi-partisan program which realizes that if you give assistance to aggressive highly motivated, talented individuals you’ll get results. Seems like a no brainer.

Being an entrepreneur is not for everybody, it’s not even for most people, and unfortunately the odds are stacked against one. In the last few years the statistics are that there are dramatically fewer entrepreneurial ventures being started each year and that the failure rate is high, ….and this in a country which prided itself on being the shining example in this area. With our political system crippled by the corrupting influence of more and more money and the power of special interest groups, plus a Congress whose behavior resembles a kindergarten, there is little room for optimism on my part that anything will change anytime soon. So, in conclusion I salute all of my fellow entrepreneurs in whatever endeavor they are engaged and wish them well. May they reach the time when they too can enjoy “downshifting” as the well-deserved fruits of their labor.


Bob Stevenson in downshifting mode

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