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The Six "F" Words Every Entrepreneur Should Know

Start your own business, and soon enough, you find yourself in a situation where there are many things you want to say, all of them unprintable.

It happens to every entrepreneur - a moment of extreme challenge that causes you to wonder why you started the (expletive) business in the first place. I've had my share of those moments since starting our public relations firm in March 2002.

But while trading notes with a fellow entrepreneur recently, I started to think about all the moments of extreme challenge I left behind when I decided I no longer wanted to be somebody else's employee.

That got me thinking about what really matters to me as an entrepreneur. As I shared my thoughts with my friend, a new list developed - the "F" words I believe every entrepreneur should know. They've done the job for me so far, keeping me rooted, married and talking to my kids while we build a successful business. I hope they have the same effect for you.

1. Faith: I'm not a street corner preacher, but I have a deep and abiding faith that starting my business is what I was meant to do in life. I also have a strong faith that I've been given the tools to do the job - even in a moment of extreme challenge. Without faith in yourself, in your business and in your purpose, how can you succeed as an entrepreneur?

2. Family: My wife and daughters are the most important people in my life. Starting my business has enabled me to put them at the center of my life, where they belong. Oh yes, I work long and hard, but today, it's with a clear purpose. The generations of entrepreneurs who built this country understood this principle. Their businesses often bore the family name, and generations of people who were born, lived and died together managed to build great businesses together.

3. Friends: Fortune 500 companies have boards of directors. Entrepreneurs have friends. When no one else will listen, friends will. When others fail to see the beauty of the product or solution, friends will. And when no one else will talk straight to you about a dumb business move, friends will. And they won't send you a bill.

4. Focus: It's nice to say you're an entrepreneur, that you are your own boss. But do you have the commitment to turn that idea into true success? The ultimate measure is your ability not only to set a goal, but stick with it, despite those moments of extreme challenge. You may have to change course along the way, but like a good sailor, you focus, keeping your business pointed to the right shore.

5. Finances: Let's face it - most of us strike out as entrepreneurs because we believe we can improve our financial situation. I know I have not missed the constraining limits and miniscule salary increases of corporate America. How much do I want to make this year? There is only one answer: How hard am I willing to work? And there is only one reason to ask that question: to make good on my commitment to all the "F" words that rank ahead of money on my list.

6. Freedom: This may be the greatest gift of entrepreneurship. But it is the one that comes only after you can act on all the other "F" words in your entrepreneurial vocabulary. So many entrepreneurs strike out to find success, which they define as freedom from all the things they hated about working for someone else. Unfortunately for these folks, they lack a true entrepreneurial vision - they're merely running away from something. True entrepreneurial freedom comes from a vision that encompasses what's really important to you.

Are these the only "F" words an entrepreneur needs to know? Obviously not. But in moments of extreme challenge, remembering these "F" words may help you weather a moment of extreme challenge without resorting to the unprintable variety. And if you're like me, they may also help you remember why you started the business in the first place.

Paul Furiga is president of WordWrite Communications LLC, a Pittsburgh-based virtual agency. He is the former editor of the Pittsburgh Business Times, and has also covered Congress, the White House, edited magazines and written for publications ranging from Congressional Quarterly to Frequent Flyer magazine.

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