Everyone who goes into business is actually three-people-in-one, according to Michael Gerber (The eMyth Revisited).
Those three people compete with each other and are almost constantly “having a go” at one another, because they are fundamentally each unique and different – their needs are different, their motivations are different and their ways of achieving those outcomes are different.
So, who are these three people living inside us business owners?
Gerber calls them (and we’ll stick with his names for now) the Technician, the Manager and the Entrepreneur.
To be really successful as business owners we need each of those “people” to bring all of themselves to bear, all at the same time. Why? Because trying to make one the boss and have the others defer to them is a recipe for disaster. Understanding their differences will help to harness their uniqueness.
The Entrepreneur is the visionary, the catalyst, the innovator. They are the one that seizes new ideas and runs with them, pushing us to take on new challenges and opportunities. Think of people you know who seem to never sit still, who aren’t ever fully satisfied with the status quo and who seem to have a constant need to change, to move to the next Big Thing. What is the situation around them? Ordered or a bit chaotic? Typically, it’s the latter, because the Entrepreneur is a thinker, not a doer. In fact, they might view most people as “too slow” to keep up with them as they move from one new idea and initiative to the next, creating havoc in their wake!
In contrast, the Manager is the pragmatist, the planner and the one who brings order out of chaos. Control is the buzzword of the Manager as they put systems and processes in place to drive efficiency and effectiveness. Interestingly, the tension between the Entrepreneur and the Manager, when handled properly, creates the environment for massive success.
Finally, the Technician is the doer. Thank goodness for the Technician, because without them nothing in our business would actually get done! Imagine a building company – the Technician is the person “on the tools”, literally.
Unfortunately, technicians tend to have at least one significant limiting belief that “no one does it as well as I do”. So, they often mistrust those around them and end up working every hour under the Sun as a result.
A client I worked with recently told me he never had enough time to get done all the things he needed to. He had four people reporting to him and kept charging from pillar to post to check their work and to make sure customers were satisfied, often redoing bits and pieces of already completed work. When I asked him how he managed billing and invoicing, he said that was something he did between 9pm and midnight! No systems, controls or structures and heaps of effort. Classic Technician, working 80-100 hours a week, running 100 miles an hour and yet not really moving forward.
Gerber suggests the typical small business owner is 10% Entrepreneur, 20% Manager and 70% Technician. To succeed in business, we need to keep the Technician, Entrepreneur and Manager in balance.
Imagine your business being run totally by an Entrepreneur – no systems (which the Manager brings) and no work being done (which we need the Technician for). Pretty soon, I’d wager, that business would be out of business, gone down in a blaze of ideas-only disappointment. Likewise, if you rely totally on your inner Manager and ignore the other two, I’d bet that the business would also fail, albeit a little slower and in a tidy, orderly fashion!
So focus on balance. Use your entrepreneurial spirit to envision, to imagine and to ask “Why?” (or better yet, “Why not?”). Use that part of yourself to stretch the boundaries of possibility. Once done, bring in your Manager to put the systems and planning in place to know what to do, how and when to do it. Finally, trust your Technician to get the job done. Together, the three-in-one persona can lead you to a brilliantly successful business, but only if harnessed to their full power.