The Entrepreneur Mad Hatter

madhatterToday I feel like Johnny Depp in the movie Alice in Wonderland, who plays the role of the Mad Hatter. An entrepreneur in an early-stage startup company has a lot of different hats to wear, and this can be enough to drive you stark-raving mad.

In order to keep my business afloat I need to be skilled with a number of different tasks such as: Marketing (including web, CMS, branding, advertising, social media, desktop publishing, copywriting…), Sales (including distribution models, negotiation, networking…), General Administration, HR & Personnel issues, Engineering, Legal issues, IP & Patents, Government reporting and compliance, etc.  The list is endless and each area requires some time and energy. How do you keep from going crazy?

In coaching entrepreneurs I often use a tool called a balance wheel. You start by identifying your most important areas of focus – whether it be with your business or with your life. For example, in my life I might pick the following 6 areas: health, wealth, family & friends, career, and charity. I then give each area a rating from 1 (lowest) to 10 (highest). I then plot out a wheel with each of the values. Here is the wheel for my current business:


What does this wheel tell me? Nothing that I did not already know, but as with any graph or chart, it illustrates the imbalances between the areas. It reminds me that I need to devote more time to the development of technology, a team and administrative routines. This tool gets really useful when you track changes over time. When I return to this same exercise 3 months from now, it will be interesting to see how I have changed my perceptions and what sort of results I have achieved. This will make for a valuable discussion with my own personal coach.

To avoid becoming a Mad Hatter, I need to keep my focus on balancing all the different aspects of my job. If I am very successful in one area, yet I make a total mess of others, then it will cause me big problems. I need to achieve a good balance and create a wheel that is well-rounded and can be driven at high speeds without bumping or falling apart.

Would you like to try a free coaching session? Contact me today to set it up. Not only is it a lot of fun, but it may help you achieve that balance and avoid becoming an entrepreneur Mad Hatter.

Want to turn-around your business and achieve results in record time? Contact me to discuss Executive Coaching, Group Facilitation and Management for Hire services for technology companies. You can learn more at and at

Rick Salmon is an energetic entrepreneur who believes that this beautiful world that we have created needs our help. Subscribe to this newsletter/blog to receive frequent updates and tips.

4 Replies to “The Entrepreneur Mad Hatter”

  1. Rick,

    Your post sounds very reasonable but I’d rather focus on those areas in which I feel stronger and look for someone else who is stronger than me in other areas. The problem arises when there is an empty gap that no one near you can fill with better skills than you… That’s very strange and rarely occurs. You may be a ‘backup’ in this areas for a while… but not for too long…. for the sake of your company.

    My point here is that by focusing in those areas in which you are weaker (to improve them), you are wasting valuable effort and time, and this may also affect your self confidence because you are less efficient doing tasks in your weak-areas and they are done with less quality. You should recognize where you are not strong and let other people do their own job. Trust and respect are key here.

    Thanks for your blog. I’m reading you since EEVC.

    1. Good point Nicolas. It is important to emphasize your strengths and not over-focus on your weaknesses. At the early stages of a startup however, an entrepreneur is usually alone or at best has a very small team. This means that he will have to be able to wear many hats. Yesterday I had to spend time reviewing our company insurance policies. While I hate to do this, I still have to make decisions that will affect my business and employees. Next I had to write a marketing plan, then make some sales calls… Many, many hats.

      Being aware of my weaknesses is helpful and allows me to either work to strengthen them or to outsource them. Since writing the last blog post I started reading and working with the book Getting Things Done by David Allen. It is great and has offered me some good tools for strengthening my administrative skills. Even though administration might be a weak point for me, I don’t intend to let it get the best of me! Thanks again for the comments Nicolas. – RICK

  2. True. I have noticed that when I am not in control – that I go a bit mad.
    Passionate people are driven by these two attributes. Thanks for the article.

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