“No, the Technician isn’t the only problem … The problem is that everybody who goes into business is actually three-people-in-one: The Entrepreneur, The Manager, and The Technician. And the problem is compounded by the fact that while each of these personalities wants to be the boss, none of them wants to have a boss. So they start a business together in order to get rid of the boss. And the conflict begins.”
Michael Gerber, The E-Myth Revisited
We all have different aspects of our own personalities that tug us in opposing directions. For example, one part of your mind loves chocolate cake, enjoys eating it, and sees no problem letting yourself enjoy it. But, another part says, “Stick to your diet! That’s not healthy. We’re trying to get in shape here. Eat the grapes instead.”
In the entrepreneurial world, three very essential personalities within ourselves – the entrepreneur, the manager, and the technician (among others) tug at each other for dominance and often create inner turmoil. Ideally, the three personalities work in harmony to get the best business result. In reality, the split business personalities sabotage most small businesses and lead to failure.
If you want to build an effective part-time or full-time business, it helps to recognize which of the three personalities you tend towards and deliberately compensate for this imbalance. Read the descriptions of each below, and see if you can recognize yourself in any of them.
The entrepreneur is the part of us with vision. It sees possibilities and opportunities everywhere. It lives in the future, as opposed to the present or the past. It’s creative, it needs change, it needs control, and it drives the manager and the technician in us (and others) crazy because it won’t sit still or pay attention to details. To the entrepreneur, the big picture and moving forward are more important than the details.
The manager is practical and pragmatic. Order, planning, and predictability are top priorities. Unlike the changing entrepreneur, the manager clings to the status quo, the past. The entrepreneur always sees the opportunity; the manager always sees the problem. Both perspectives are valuable. The manager cleans up the messes created by the entrepreneur and gets them organized and orderly.
The technician is the doer. Action and getting things done are top priorities. Get up early, work hard, finish what you started are the mantras of the technician. To the technician, lofty ideas or abstract thinking, unless it’s about the job at hand, are unproductive. How-to and step-by-step – these are the preference of the technician. This methodical, get-it-done focus is essential in any organization or business. In fact the technician is the backbone and the body of a business, a society, and the world.
The entrepreneur is constantly throwing a monkey wrench in a technician’s plans with yet another “great new idea” from a seminar or book.
The manager is focused on the system, on increased efficiency, on order, which also creates a problem for the technician. This distracts from getting things done. It also takes away from the emphasis on the individual, the one doing the work.
The E-Myth Revisited author Michael Gerber says that most business owners he encounters are 10% Entrepreneur, 20% Manager, and 70% technician. So, instead of a balanced, cohesive, symbiotic relationship led by the ideas of the entrepreneur, organized by the manager, and put into action by the technician, the wrong person is at the helm. A technician is steering the entire business-ship.
And, as you have seen, most businesses owners work, and work, and work with their nose to the grindstone. These honest, good people never even look up to see where they’re really going and to notice the iceberg dead ahead that will sink their ship.
Because most small business owners tend towards being dominated by the technician, the typical task is to increase the role of your inner entrepreneur and manager.
The challenge of being dominated by the inner-technician is handling growth and sustained activity. Your technician wants to do everything him or herself and is often the bottleneck to positive business change. The ever-increasing work load also creates the risk of burnout. Your technician finally has to realize that even super-humans can not do everything themselves. Everyone needs help and a bigger picture perspective from time to time.
First, you need your inner entrepreneur to emerge and create a vision for something bigger than yourself. The entrepreneur will stand above the details of daily tasks and ask strategic questions like:
- Where are we going?
- Why are we doing this?
- How can we serve our customer better?
- Are we missing something obvious?
The entrepreneur is like the navigator of a ship, who aims the bow in the right direction and who helps avoid perilous storms and icebergs.
Second, you need your inner manager to implement the vision by building solid processes and recruiting and training competent team members. While the entrepreneur guides the ship’s direction, the manager keeps the ship tidy and efficient. The manager makes sure all of the individual parts work together in harmony.
What’s Your Business Personality?
This concept of a business personality conflict is not make-believe. Each week in my real estate investment business I find myself switching from entrepreneur to manager to technician. My own tendency early on was towards an entrepreneur. Luckily I partnered with someone who had good manager skills in addition to entrepreneurial tendencies. And, both of us could switch to the technician and get into details and get things done when needed.
Over time we have learned to balance one another and to delegate as much as possible to other competent technicians, like in the areas of repair work, legal paperwork, leasing, bookkeeping, and tax preparation. I have also found it helpful to physically separate days and times when I’m working as an entrepreneur, manager, or technician.
So, now it’s back to you. Do you tend towards one or more of the business personalities? If so, how has that affected your business (for better or worse)? What is your plan to compensate for your own strengths and weaknesses? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comment section below.
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