I recommend the E-Myth by Michael E Gerber to anyone who is contemplating taking the plunge into entrepreneurship. The book lays out why most businesses fail and talk about the important pillars needed to build a business, self-funded or otherwise. The book emphasizes 3 personalities that are required to run a successful business i.e. the entrepreneur, the manager and the technician.
When I analysed the founders that I have interacted with in the past i.e. our investees, the new startups and the businesses we procure our goods & services from, I see that they are all able to easily fill the managerial and technician roles from within the founding team or from the first few hires that are made. These two personality types are the ones that get the job done. However, these two personalities can also come together to suffocate the entrepreneurial personality which needs to be potent in order for any business to prosper & innovate.
What is the entrepreneurial personality?
“The entrepreneur personality turns the most trivial condition into an exceptional opportunity.
The dreamer. The energy behind every human activity.
The imagination that sparks the fire of the future. The catalyst for change. The way he usually chooses is to bully, harass, excoriate, flatter, cajole, scream, and finally, when all else fails, promise whatever he must to keep the project moving.”
The entrepreneurial personality consistently challenges the existing status quo, pushes boundaries and tries to create new horizons.
Unfortunately, this personality is a nightmare for the technician & manager who are prone to saying “no, we can’t” instead of figuring out a way to say “yes, we can”.
The technician resists as he/she must change and retrain himself/herself and his/her team on the new processes abandoning everything they are currently comfortable with (and even good at) accomplishing. The manager gets nightmares with each new idea that the entrepreneur has because he/she is now responsible for implementing the moon-shot goals with revised SOPs, KPIs, retooling, and retraining of his/her people. These changes take time, require an immense amount of effort and cost a lot of money which end up affecting the profitability of the company in the short term.
I am not advocating that an entrepreneurial personality should be let loose with the reigns in any organization. It isn’t a secret that more entrepreneurs have been wrong than right and if left unchecked can be as destructive to the organization. Therefore, it is important to have naysayers (the technician and manager) to help ground an otherwise unstoppable force. A proper balance of all 3 personality types in a business isn’t just important but essential for its growth and survival.
Far too often the entrepreneurial instinct within a founder or an organization dies, as it is neglected due to the abundance of “other things” take up time. The day to day grind of running a business tends to take away the freedom of time and expression to innovate new products and service to replace the old and new technologies to replace archaic processes. Founders are also dissuaded by the risk involved in altering products/services that currently provide steady revenues. These lies and other stories that the founders tell to convince themselves to avoid innovation, convert a startup that is capable of changing the world into another mundane organization that runs on processes that might produce results but are definitely eating up ambition.
So, before you say no to the next business opportunity that comes to you think about “how you can make it happen” before doting on all the reasons “why you cannot make it happen”. Carve out a few hours every week to sit with your inner circle (or even by yourself) to map out what should and could be and how you can go about making it happen. These precious hours will revive the entrepreneur within you and ensure it remains alive!