So, who’s in charge of your business - the Technician or the Entrepreneur?

Let's take a closer look at the person who goes into business. Not straight after she goes into business but before. Most people take their skill or hobby set with them into their new business. That's the main driver. They certainly do not set up a business because they love handling receipts and paperwork, or they just love answering cold calls from sales people. 

You may even have been asking, 'Why am I doing this? I'm working all hours, never even stopping to think about the anchor questions like, am I making (enough) money? Am I planning for a forward-thinking company that will be around and perhaps even highly sellable in x years' time?

In your case, the excitement of cutting the cord from your previous company became your 'thing,' the thought of independence followed you everywhere. The idea of being your own boss doing what you wanted to do and stretching your wings became obsessively irresistible. (Sound familiar?)

To remind you, the Technician is the 'doer.' The kind of person who says, 'If you want something done, do it yourself.' As long as the Technician is working, he's happy. But only on one thing at a time, happiest when he's in control of the workflow. You may have made the assumption made by all technicians who go into business for themselves and who chart the course of the business. That fatal assumption is: if you understand the technical work of the business you understand a business that does technical work. And the reason it's fatal is that it just isn't true. In fact, it's the root cause of most small business failures.

The technical work of a business and a business that does technical work are two totally different things. But the technician who starts a business fails to see this. To the technician suffering from an entrepreneurial seizure, a business is not a business but a place to go to work.

All of them believe that by understanding the technical work of the business they are immediately and eminently qualified to run a business that does that kind of work and it's simply not true. In fact, rather than being their single greatest asset, knowing the technical work of their business becomes their greatest single liability.

Few people who go into business can calculate the balance of activity of their business. It's believed that in most cases, the balance is 10 percent Entrepreneur, 20 percent manager, and 70 percent Technician.

An Entrepreneurial business without a manager to give it order and without a technician to make it work is likely to be doomed. Similarly, with the other permutations out of sync. But it's rarely balanced effectively. Everyone leans towards what their skill set drives them towards, not towards what needs doing to develop a business for the future. The safe and comfortable option – the technical bit drives most small businesses.

It's often guilt that drives our business. You feel guilty that you're not putting in the hours, guilty that you've been distracted by things that don't make much or any difference to the business (networking, going to exhibitions, a catch-up drink with friends). All of which may contribute something, but when you get back to HQ, there's even more work to be done. We feel perhaps we haven't prioritised but favoured the things we like doing first.

So, how is your balance? How about doing a time trial and keeping a running tab on how much time you're taking to grow your business, to think it through. Unless you're growing it, you're going backwards.

On the basis that “if you always do what you've always done, you'll always get what you've always got. Or worse.” Why? Because when you look around you and ask why one or two or your competitors always seem to get the business, how often do you ask, 'How exactly do they do that ?!'

Next week, we'll talk about lifting your game and making 'Entrepreneur time.'