I’ve often struggled with the notion of what should and shouldn’t be mandatory when training entrepreneurs. I’ve decided that nothing should be mandatory. If you have to make someone do something, they’re not really ready to be their own boss and run their own enterprise. Why? Because in business, when you’re the entrepreneur, no one is going to stand over your shoulder and make you do things. If a person can’t motivate themselves, they’re not ready.
Being an entrepreneur is like running a marathon. It is a challenging endeavor which requires commitment, focus and motivation. And yet, like a marathon, it’s a totally voluntary endeavor. No one can make you run a marathon – no one can make you become an entrepreneur. If you asked a marathon runner if their training regimen were ‘mandatory’, they’d likely look at you like you were a fool. ‘Mandatory? No. 100% necessary – absolutely.’ There’s nothing mandatory about a proper marathon training regime. You could easily show up for a marathon one hundred pounds overweight, never having run a day in your life, and wearing high heels. It’s your choice. But one choice will lead to success (completing the marathon) and the other failure (being forever known as the guy who had a heart attack while wearing high heels at the marathon).
When training would-be entrepreneurs, design your program with this notion in mind. Self-motivation is crucial. It’s a hard thing to train and coach people on. It’s certainly not impossible, but the first time someone asks if something is mandatory, give them the marathon speech; the second time they ask show them where the door is and wish them well somewhere else.