Every business owner takes on three distinct personalities in how they think about—and work within—their business. The Technician lives in the present and is focused on doing the work of making it, selling it and delivering it. The Manager focuses on achieving results through people and systems, focusing on the present and strategizing for the future. And the Entrepreneur defines the business and focuses on closing the gap between where the business is today and where they want it to be.
It’s common to bounce between each of these roles. But for most of the owners we speak to, their struggle to grow their business comes from being—more often than not—a Technician, from working in the business much more often than working on the business. It makes sense because most people start their business as Technicians. Builders open contracting businesses. Chefs open restaurants. And they’re so overwhelmed by keeping the wheels turning that they don’t stop to develop a vision and build the structure needed to get there.
The struggle of the Technician
Our client, Bob, came to EMyth as a typical Technician who’d reached his breaking point.
Bob's dad was a plumber, and Bob grew up working in his dad's business. One day, he reasoned that—since he was a plumber who’d lived in and observed the plumbing business all his life—he could establish a business of his own. And so he did.
Bob is a terrific plumber, but he found that while he could clear clogged pipes and repair broken toilets, he didn’t know how to run a business. He struggled to hire and lead employees, use a financial balance sheet, and identify and attract his ideal customers.
He was ready to give up.
"I'm so discouraged with how my business is going," he said. "I've got to straighten it out in the next few months or I’m going to walk away from it completely."
Bob realized that if he ever wanted to truly stabilize and grow his business—and ultimately free himself to work how he wanted to—he’d need to learn a whole new set of skills—and to shift to being the Entrepreneur his business needed.
The three business personalities in action
For Bob to take control of his business, he needed to first understand the difference between the Technician, Manager and Entrepreneur. And the easiest way to do this was to look at each of the personalities through the lens of three vital resources—work, time and money.
- Entrepreneurial work is strategic in nature. It involves dreaming, focusing on the future and developing a vision of where the business can go. This vision is specific in terms of what the company will do to serve the wants and needs of the owner.
- Managerial work is both strategic and tactical, with a focus on the present and on achieving results through others. The Manager is the pragmatist, planner and organizer who turns the vision into action.
- Technical work is the hands-on work of the business—doing the production and delivery of the product or service. The Technician lives in the present and relies on the guiding structure of the company's systems to get the work done.
- The Entrepreneur makes time each day for strategic work to ensure that the company is on course to meet the vision. This time is critical to the Entrepreneur's future.
- The Manager sees time in relation to personnel and production, knowing the importance of using every precious moment to produce. Managers take the company's strategic vision and plot moment-by-moment tactical action to accomplish that vision. Time for the manager has both long- and short-term considerations.
- The Technician sees time as the present moment and focuses on what can be done today. The Technician strives to complete as much as possible now, recognizing that more production equals more money.
- The Entrepreneur pays particular attention to the balance sheets, knowing that the real value of the business is reflected in its equity. The higher its equity value, the greater the price of the business in the marketplace. Equity value determines the entrepreneur's exit strategy—the plan to sell the business and move on.
- The Manager focuses on controlling costs and increasing profits by creating a tactical growth plan through proper employment of people and assets. They stay on the pulse of up-to-date financial information so they can make quick adjustments when necessary. This tactical action ties the Manager the company’s strategic goals.
- The Technician looks at money as earnings for work performed. Technicians are always trying to figure out how to do it better and faster in order to make more money. The Technician's efforts are the source of better competitive strategies that allow for a strong, profitable position in the marketplace.
Shifting to an entrepreneurial mindset
So, with this in mind, let’s look at how Bob made the critical shift to a more entrepreneurial approach to work, time and money.
At the start of coaching, Bob was a skilled Technician who didn’t know how to also be a terrific Manager or a competent Entrepreneur. Since then, he’s made great strides.
Bob learned that to achieve his desired success, he needed a company vision. He took the time to define his goal-oriented future and worked strategically towards each through planning the complete systemization of his company.
He also learned to be a competent manager. He did the strategic and tactical work to adopt and execute the necessary systems to achieve his vision, which brought sustained high levels of performance in his business on a day-to-day basis.
The result was a sea change for Bob, both personally and professionally. His company is now well positioned to serve him in achieving his vision for his life.
"I can't believe I ever felt like giving up and closing my doors," Bob says. "Now I feel like I'm just getting started."
And while there are still times when the company is overwhelmed and Bob puts on his Technician hat, these times are less and less frequent. Today, he spends more time teaching and mentoring his employees so they no longer have to rely on him—and so Bob can work in and on the business the way he’d always imagined.
Do you have questions or a story about your own journey from Technician to Entrepreneur? Please share in the comments below.