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Management Style: Entrepreneur or Technician?
Personality types can affect the way you lead — are you an entrepreneur or a technician, and what impact does it have on your business?
What management style will work for your business?
In 2004, Michael Gerber authored The E-Myth Revisited which focused primarily on the difference between entrepreneurial and technical mindsets applied to business management. In the book, he attributes the high failure rate of small businesses to the fact that most businesses are launched by “technicians” that, while technically adept, have little experience in business operation.
The approach you take when running your business will have different strengths and weaknesses. Understanding these helps you compensate to ensure success. We’ll proceed to break down the difference between the entrepreneur and technician approaches and why Gerber’s E-Myth is still highly relevant today.
What’s the Difference Between a Technician and an Entrepreneur?
The innate management style of a business owner has a profound impact on the way in which they delegate work, the efficiency of their business structure, overall job satisfaction, and the long-term future of a business.
A business owner that structures their day-to-day tasks in a manner that is contrary to their innate preferences — entrepreneurial leadership or technical leadership — is highly likely to experience higher stress levels and encounter more obstacles, negatively impacting overall business performance.
A technician focuses on specific hands-on tasks that must be performed as part of the products or services that a business delivers on a day-to-day basis. An entrepreneur, however, operates with a focus on the future of a business, working in a conceptual space in order to bring ideas into reality.
A technician may possess the practical knowledge and discipline required to execute the tasks necessary to run a business at ground level, but can often lack the vision and flexibility to drive a company over the long term. Inversely, entrepreneurially-minded leaders possess a talent for innovation but can stumble over the necessary minutiae of day-to-day business operations.
Are you a “Technician” Leader?
Technicians have a management style that focuses on running their business in a linear fashion, working on an hour-by-hour, day-by-day schedule that allows them to do the particular task they’re best at as much as possible. Technicians are typically individuals that enjoy the hands-on aspect of their work, and are often the people that create the product or service sold by a company.
If you prefer to spend your working hours “doing” or creating, it’s highly likely that you operate your business with a technician mindset.
Running a Business as a Technician
The time of a technician is highly billable — but problems emerge when a technician launches a business. As business operators, technicians are no longer able to spend all of their time on the task or skill they are best at. Other factors such as project management, client services, employee management, and sales require the attention of a business owner.
In The E-Myth Revisited, Gerber highlights the importance of focusing on management as a technical leader. A business owner that operates with a technician mindset must change their expectations for the day-to-day tasks they expect to perform, as well as hire talented staff members that can assist with delegation.
As a technician, it’s important to recognize that you must spend less time doing and more time managing in order to ensure your company remains organized and profitable. The long-term success of a business, however, relies heavily on integrating the entrepreneurial mindset into your business leadership style.
Business owners with an entrepreneurial management style may not possess the technical know-how of a technician leader, but are highly focused on innovation and the future. Often found in the startup ecosystem, entrepreneurs think “outside the box” and are highly adept at rallying others to follow them.
A technician leader is focused on the day-to-day operation of a business, whereas an entrepreneur leader is focused on driving a business into the future. Entrepreneurs focus on creating new products, establishing new partnerships, and identifying new business opportunities.
Running a Business as an Entrepreneur
Entrepreneurs excel at creating new products and ideas and bringing them to market, but typically spend their time on tasks that consist almost entirely of non-billable work. Research and development, meetings, marketing, and establishing new business partnerships are essential to the long-term growth of a company, but don’t generate cash flow.
Most small businesses and startups can’t afford to have their CEO spending the majority of their time on non-billable work. An entrepreneur must recruit and coach technicians to perform billable work, and devote a portion of their time to managerial tasks in order to ensure a business is able to generate cash and achieve long-term goals.
Whether your management style is that of an entrepreneur or a technician, it’s essential to incorporate a management process into your business.
Learning to delegate critical tasks is important to both leadership styles in order to generates a healthy cash flow and maintain sustainable growth. For guidance on how you can adapt your business structure to your management style, get in touch with Fullstack today.
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Stuart Reynolds is the founder of Fullstack Advisory, an award-winning accounting firm for businesses leading the future. He is a 3rd generation accountant who specialises in tech companies, agencies and entrepreneurs.