In Part 1 of this six-part topic, we introduced the romantic myth of how businesses start, yet contrasting the terrible statistics of failure of businesses in their first few years. This led us to the paradox of the creative tension between three necessary personalities, each with their own interests and needs, within each business owner. In Part 2, we now look at why business often becomes frustrating, but that there is a better way. Let’s introduce the three ‘persons’ in every business owner…
The Entrepreneur is the visionary or dreamer in us; the energy behind every human activity. The imagination that sparks the fire of the future; the catalyst for change.
The Entrepreneur lives in the future, never in the past, and rarely in the present. He’s happiest when allowed to think about “what-if” and “if-when”.
The Entrepreneur is the innovator, grand strategist, creator of new methods for marketing. Our creative personality.
Every strong entrepreneurial personality has an extraordinary need for control. He needs control of people and things in the present, so he can concentrate on his dreams. Given his need for change, he creates a great deal of havoc around him, which is predictably unsettling for those he enlists. As a result, he often finds himself rapidly outdistancing the others. The farther ahead he is, the greater the effort required to pull his cohorts along. He usually does this by bullying, harassing, flattering, cajoling, screaming and whatever promises necessary. To him, most people are problems that get in the way of the dream.
This personality is pragmatic. Without The Manager there would be no planning, order, or predictably. He lives in the past, and craves order. The Manager compulsively clings to the status quo, sees the problems rather than the opportunity.
The Manager creates neat, orderly rows. The Entrepreneur creates the things the Manager puts in rows. The Manager runs after the Entrepreneur and cleans up the mess. Without the Manager there could be no business, no society.
It is the tension between The Entrepreneur’s vision and The Manager’s pragmatism that creates the synthesis from which all great works are born.
The Technician is the doer. “If you want it done right, do it yourself” is his credo. Things aren’t supposed to be dreamt about, they’re meant to be done.
The Technician loves to tinker, taking things apart and putting them back together again. The Technician lives in the present. He works steadily and is happiest when he is in control of the flow of work – but only one thing at a time. He mistrusts those he works for, because they are always trying to get more work done than is necessary or possible.
The Technician isn’t interested in ideas, but “how to do it”. All ideas must be reduced to methodology, because he knows without him nothing would get done. Just lots of people thinking about it.
The Technician is a resolute individualist, the backbone of every cultural tradition; if the Technician didn’t do it, it wouldn’t get done.
The Entrepreneur is always throwing a monkey’s wrench into his day with another “great new idea”. On the other hand, The Entrepreneur is always creating new and interesting work for The Technician to do. However he experiences frustration and annoyance at being interrupted in what needs to be done to try something that probably doesn’t need to be done at all.
The Manager is also a problem to The Technician because he is determined to impose order on him, make him part of “the system”, which the Technician finds cold, impersonal, and violates his individuality. To the Manager, work is a system of results in which The Technician is but a component part.
To the Manager then, the Technician becomes a problem to be managed. To the Technician, the Manager becomes a meddler to be avoided. To both of them, the Entrepreneur is the one who got them into trouble in the first place!
In fact, we all have all three inside us. If they were equally balanced, we would be an incredibly competent individual.
The Entrepreneur would be free to forge ahead, The Manager would be solidifying the base, and The Technician would be doing the technical work. And each would be satisfied.
However, reality shows that the typical small business owner is only 10% Entrepreneur, 20% Manager, and 70% Technician.
The Entrepreneur wakes with a vision. The Manager screams “Oh, no!” And while they are battling it out, the Technician seizes the opportunity to go into business for himself. It’s not to pursue the dream, but to wrest control of his work from the other two. To the business this is a disaster because the wrong person is at the helm.
You can see now…
As Gerber says, “You can see how one part of you craves a sense of order, while another part dreams of the future. And another part can‘t stand being idle and jumps into doing something, feeling guilty is he isn’t doing something all the time.
“It not only matters that your personalities are not in a balanced relationship with each other, but that your life depends on gaining that balance… Without balance it is a tyranny. Your business cannot help but mirror your own lopsidedness.”
An Entrepreneur does the work of envisioning the work as something apart from you, the owner. Asking “Why?” and to wonder.
In Part 3, we go through the phases very business goes through, right to the edge of the limit of the business owners’ comfort zone. From there in Part 4, we look at the three ways this can go. You will recognize yourself somewhere here – the major trap versus the fascinating possibilities… into Parts 5 and 6.
(Notes originally taken and adapted from ‘The E-Myth Revisited, by Michael E. Gerber)