"I am so discouraged with how my business is going," sighed Bob, a business owner. "I've got to get it straightened out in the next few months or I am going to give up and walk away from it!" This expression of frustration marked the beginning of our coaching / business owner relationship.
Bob's dad was a plumber, and Bob grew up working in his dad's business. Then one day Bob reasoned that, since he's a plumber and has lived in and observed the plumbing business all of his life, that there was no reason not to 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 did not know anything about such things as how to hire and lead employees, use a financial balance sheet, or conduct marketing campaigns to attract new customers.
A day came when he realized that, just as he invested his time and energy in learning his trade, he also needed to learn how to run a business. He knew that he required new skills to be an effective business owner, and I've been fortunate enough to coach him on this journey. As a first step, I introduced him to the concept of the three business personalities—entrepreneur, manager, and technician.
The Three Business Personalities in Action
Defining the business is entrepreneurial work, doing the hands-on work is technical work, and the managerial work is the bridge between the two. Creating and maintaining a successful business requires the contributions of all three roles. For many small business owners, however, the technician in them usually dominates—to the detriment of the overall business.
To view the difference between these three business personalities, let's start by looking at the application of these personalities through the lens of three vital resources—work, time, and money.
- The entrepreneur's work is strategic in nature and involves focusing on the future and developing a vision of where s/he can take their business. This vision is specific in terms of what the company will do to serve the wants and needs of the owner.
- The manager's work is both strategic and tactical. The manager's focus is on the present and achieving results through others. The manager is the pragmatist, planner, and organizer who turns the vision into action.
- The technician is directed by the manager and follows the guiding structure of the company's systems to get the work done. The technician's focus is on the present and performing the hands-on work of the business.
- The entrepreneur organizes time so that each day is spent in doing strategic work—ensuring that the company is on course to meet the vision. This time is critical to the entrepreneur's future.
- The manager knows that time must be utilized so that the company's personnel and other resources use 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's time is in the present moment and concerns what can be done today. The technician strives to make as much as possible happen now. The technician knows that the more produced within the day the more money made.
- The entrepreneur pays particular attention to the balance sheets, knowing that the real value of the business is reflected in the equity. The higher the equity value, the greater the price that can be commanded for the business in the marketplace. The equity value ultimately serves the entrepreneur's exit strategy—the plan to sell the business and move on.
- The manager's focus is on controlling costs and increasing profits. The manager conceives a tactical plan for growth through proper employment of people and assets. This requires up-to-date financial information that allows the manager to make adjustments when necessary. The manager is called to tactical action in order to meet 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.
A Personal and Professional Sea Change
Let's go back and re-visit Bob. At the start of our coaching sessions, he was a very good technician who did not know how to also be a terrific manager or a competent entrepreneur. Since then, he has made great strides.
For example, Bob learned that without a vision for his company, he would not achieve his desired success. He has taken the time to define his goal-oriented future and is working strategically towards those goals through planning the complete systemization of his company.
He has also made a strong effort to learn how to be a competent manager. He has done the strategic and tactical work to adopt and execute the necessary systems to achieve his vision. This has resulted in sustained high levels of performance in his business on a day-to-day basis.
While there are still times when the company is overwhelmed with work and Bob steps in to do the trade work, these times are less and less frequent. Today, he spends more time teaching and mentoring his employees to competency so that they no longer have to rely on him.
The result has been 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," exclaims Bob. "Now I feel like I'm just getting started!"