Take a moment to think about your business. Go ahead—picture your typical work day. What does that picture look like?
Does it look like you clocking into a job, immersed in the technical work of your business? Does it look like you putting out constant fires, struggling to check a single task off your to-do list without adding five more? Or does it look like you running a team, delegating tasks and keeping the wheels turning? A well-oiled machine that seems to run without you pushing a single button? Or does it look like something else entirely?
Whatever it looks like, this picture of your business defines how you’re doing business. Let me explain what I mean.
The three personalities
In the many years I’ve spent as an EMyth Coach and Trainer, I’ve met and worked with thousands of business owners. Each of them juggles—to different degrees—three distinct personalities: the Technician, the Manager, and the Entrepreneur. (You’ll know about them if you’ve ever read The EMyth Revisited.)
Each personality has a different role in the business. Each has automatic habits and ways of being. Each has a different way of seeing the business. And depending upon which one is front and center, the results the business produces will vary dramatically.
Take time and money, for example. Depending on which personality is operating at any given time, the business owner will perceive each of these major pieces of business management very differently:
The Technician sees everything in the present. Their primary concern is getting things done. There’s no time to stop and think about how they’re spending time or money, to plan or analyze, or to look at the past or the future. They’re focused on keeping the business alive right now and earning personal income.
The Manager, on the other hand, is living in the past, present, and future. When it comes to the work, the manager’s first thought is: How do I create a system by which someone else can get this done, so that I don’t have to do it? And how do we turn a profit? To answer those questions, they need past data, future vision, and day-to-day team management.
The Entrepreneur comes at time and money from a completely different perspective. Money is thought of as building value and equity through the business. They ask: If I were to sell my company in the future, what’s its value? Not only monetarily, but in terms of the promise or experience I’m delivering? They’re always thinking forward, and their job is to set forth a vision for what they want the company to become so that it’s worth more to a potential buyer or the next generation.
I’ve found that most business owners naturally orient or feel most comfortable with one of the three personalities. And whichever that primary personality is drives their actions, decisions, and behaviors.
Think of it like wearing three different hats. The hat you’re wearing affects how you relate to the work you do every day. That hat defines everything. If you’re wearing your Technician hat most days, your business won’t grow beyond your capacity to get things done. It can only grow so much, it can only develop so far, because you’re doing it all—and you’re only one person.
In order to change how you do business, you need to change how you think about business—change hats from that of a Technician to that of an Entrepreneur to establish a vision of where you want to be in three, five, or even ten years. Then, put on the Manager hat and begin to develop systems that you can teach and train others to use, so you can begin to move yourself out of the technical work.
Treat your business as a thing of value
The challenge comes from putting the principle into practice. It can feel awkward, unnatural, and scary. I know—I’ve helped many clients through the transformation.
One particular client stands out. Let’s call him George.
George owned a successful residential painting business in Chicago, and he’d always struggled with the whole idea of seeing his business in terms of building its value as an asset. Until one day, all on his own, he had an “aha” moment.
“You know,” he told me later, “I never really saw my business as an investment, like an insurance policy for my family. But it is. If something happens to me and I’m not able to run the business anymore, would it survive? Would there be anything there that my family could sell?”
“What do you think?” I asked.
“I don’t think so. At most, they could liquidate the equipment and our trucks, which aren’t worth very much.”
George wondered if he’d created a business or had just bought himself a job to go to every day. Was his business worth anything in the long run? He had always been proud to say he was “self-employed.” That now meant something entirely different.
After he began relating to his business like an insurance policy, George could really see it for what it was: a thing of value; something to invest in and build up.
His painting company was small at the time, so he still needed to wear the Technician hat and work in the business. And he was a Manager, running his crew and teams of painters. But after this "aha" moment, George put on his Entrepreneur hat and became an owner with an incredible vision that revolved around his love for craftsmanship. From that moment on, he diligently began to work himself out of each and every technical job, and to focus his energy on expanding and developing his team—and that changed everything.
So you see, how you think about business is how you end up doing business. To develop an entrepreneurial mindset, you need to work—day by day—to cultivate a conscious awareness of when each of your three personalities comes out; that is, you need to recognize when you’re thinking like a Technician, a Manager, or an Entrepreneur. Then do whatever you need to help yourself shift perspective to the personality your company needs you to embody at any given moment—even if that means buying three different hats, hanging them from your office wall, and switching between each of them throughout the day.
If you work at it, if you put on a certain hat (literally or figuratively) and engage from that place—wearing each hat every day—you’ll start to notice some things: The Technician’s hat will start to stay on the hook more and more; your vision for your business will grow; and the ways you work, think, and lead will never be the same.
Which hat are you wearing most often these days? Is it the hat your business really needs from you? Let me know in the comments below.