Did You Know That Business Owners Are Three People In One?
Did you know that within each business owner there are actually three personality types, and depending on who you are as an owner, one of the three will be more dominant? Did you also know that depending on which personality type is dominant, that you can predict the types of problems or setbacks that you will have in your business?
If you have ever found yourself feeling as though you’re going crazy trying to simultaneously navigate yourself and your business, feeling like you're manifesting some weird version of Jim Carrey in Me, Myself, and Irene.. Don’t worry, this is perfectly normal and there is a reason why!
The reality is that each of us must embody these three personas if we are going to have a successful and thriving business. Unfortunately, most of us are battling within ourselves over which personality is in the drivers seat. What are these personality types, you ask? They are the Entrepreneur, the Manager, and the Technician.
I was introduced to this concept when reading Michael E. Gerber’s book, The E-Myth Revisited, where he does an excellent job breaking down the common mistakes small businesses often make, how to avoid them, and how to build a strategic business model. This book is a MUST READ for any business owner out there, no matter how experienced you are.
Gerber opens the book by first defining these personalities and how they are interrelated and interdependent; each playing an essential role in establishing and sustaining a successful business. He also explains how most people usually have one dominant personality that tends to take over, and that lacking awareness of this could quite possibly be the reason why you and your business are struggling.
Upon learning more about the three personality types, I was instantly able to identify each them within myself, as well as which one of them was typically the one in charge. As I go over them here, try to determine for yourself which one is your dominant personality type, and I'll explain the impact that will have on you and your business as each personality plays out in your work— but before I do that, take a guess on which one is your dominant type. Is it the Entrepreneur, the Manager, or the Technician?
Let myself and the readers know what your guess was in the comments below. And if your initial guess was wrong, let us know which one was, in fact, the dominant one. Personally, while I certainly find myself playing into all three, I tend to oscillate most between being Entrepreneur dominant and Technician dominant a majority of the time.
So lets get into the personalities and perspectives of each type, shall we? Starting off with the Technician.
Believe it or not, its our Technician personality type that often sparks the desire within us to go into business for ourselves. The Technician experiences what Gerber calls the Entrepreneurial Seizure, where we start saying things to ourselves like, "I am really good at the thing that I do, I know the craft better than anyone, and I am exceptionally skilled in it. In fact, I am better than anyone else at this! Why am I making money for my boss, who is clearly less skilled than I am, when I could be running this for myself and making MYSELF the money??” This entrepreneurial seizure is essentially the itch that each Technician has when they decide to to take the thing that they love to do, and strike out to make a business out of it.
The barber opens a barber shop, the baker a bakery, the fitness instructor a fitness studio, the cook a restaurant. The lawyer leaves the firm to start his own; the doctor leaves the medical group for private practice. Every single one of these examples are skilled “technicians" who see’s a business not AS a business but as a place to work for themselves.
The Technician is a doer, by default. Their motto is "if you want to get something done right, do it yourself!” They are fully immersed in the present moment, and firmly focussed on the task at hand. They don’t worry themselves with anything besides the work itself. While others consume themselves with thinking about doing things, the Technician gets. things. done.
“The Technician is a resolute individualist, standing his ground, producing todays bread to eat at tonights dinner. He’s the backbone of every cultural tradition.. if the technician didn’t do it, it wouldn’t get done,” Gerber explains. For the Technician, there is nothing more important than the work itself. They hate being bothered by systems and structure, thats what the managers are for. And they hate obsessing over problems and trying to create solutions, thats what the entrepreneur is for. The Technician does what needs to be done as they have always been done, and doesn't like being interrupted by new approaches, ideas, opportunities, or external demands. They are the personality type that is most resistant to change.
Gerber argues that each Technician believes "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,” meaning that they see the business as being an extension of their skill set, and THIS is where they typically get themselves in trouble.
A Technician goes into business and focuses solely on the doing the work and the delivery of the product or service, so much so that they don’t nurture the development and growth of the business itself. They don't recognize just how essential that component is to the success of the business, nor do they want to have anything to do with it. The nuts and bolts of the business itself are a part of the job that they are most resistant to, and would rather avoid. And so in large part it gets neglected all together, which leads their business straight into danger.
The Technician loves to work. But not just any work, they LOVE to work in the business on their skill, product, or service; they hate, however, working on the business. The Technician is passionate about the skill, and focusses on getting the work done. At least initially this is how it starts.
Upon building the business, the technician is thrilled, loving their carte blanche opportunity to do things the way THEY want to, for themselves. However, very soon they become inundated with the demand of the work, stressed out and terrified of the responsibility that they have, yet don't know how to cope with. They are soon after exhausted from having to carry the burden of everything on their own, and are finally filled with despair.
Not only have they lost the passion for the skill, but they have lost themselves along the way, feeling overwhelmed by a process that demands everything of them. They are their own boss, yet they resent themselves and the work now as much as they did when they did it for someone else. The only difference is they HAVE to show up now if the business is going to stay open.
The Technician is an essential personality within each business, because work certainly needs to get done! But, if the Technician is ultimately in charge of the business, with no integration of the other two personality types, too often the business itself starts to suffer from lack of strategy, development, and neglect of they very things the business needs to survive in the long term. A Technician in charge for too long will not only lead to an exhausted and overworked business owner, but a business that will stagnate and eventually die.
Which is why the Manager is such an important persona within the business owner. The Manager not only loves everything the Technician hates, they excel in it. They love systems, order, organization, structure, and planning!
Does this sound like you?
Gerber characterizes the Manager as the one who “systematically stores all the various sized nuts, bolts, and screws in their own carefully identified drawer. He then hangs all of the tools in impeccable order on the walls.. and to be absolutely certain the order is not disturbed, paints a picture of each tool on the wall where it hangs!”
They are the neurotic type-A personalities who like things color coded, filed, and tidy at all times. They want everything to work exactly as it is designed to work, in timely fashion, without skipping a beat. And they fret and fuss over the details of how things get done, and become stressed when anything shifts the balance of things.
The Manager craves order above everything. They want everything to work like a well-oiled machine, effectively and consistently. They see problems and strive to return everything back to the status quo. The Manager is essential for any business to succeed. There would be no business, no society, with out managers. Its the Managers pragmatism that ensure stability in the chaotic world of the entrepreneur, and productivity and momentum in the world of the task-oriented Technician.
The Manager handles the operation and implementation of things. They thrive in predicability, they will always clean up the mess left in the wake of the Entrepreneur, and they see work as being a system of results, always to be maintained and controlled. But a Manager who goes unchecked will never test the limits of the business to grow and expand beyond the status quo. If a business wants to play the long game, the Entrepreneur personality has to have to take the stage from time to time.
When it come to the Entrepreneur, I think its safe to say that we are all familiar with these personality types. They are the innovators, creators, and risk takers in the group. They see chaos as an opportunity for discovering potentials and opportunities. They are the visionary in each of us.
“The Entrepreneur,” Gerber explains, “ is our creative personality— always at its best dealing with the unknown, prodding the future, creating probabilities out of possibilities, engineering chaos into harmony.” The Entrepreneur likes change and thus create havoc around themselves so they can find projects to enlist themselves in.
The Entrepreneur always lives in the future and is vary rarely concerned with the present. Although they don’t concern themselves with the order of things as much as the manager might, the Entrepreneur does in fact like control; they like to control people, events, outcomes etc… the more control they have the more they can pursue their dreams. But as they are usually miles ahead of others, control is difficult for them because most people have a hard time keeping up.
This is why every strong Entrepreneur needs a strong Manager to manage them. As Gerber states, “It is the tension between the Entrepreneur’s vision and the Managers pragmatism that creates the synthesis from which all great works are born.”
So which one of these personalities is your dominant one? Are you a more balanced business owner or one that has one overly dominant type at the helm?
Gerber writes that it is uncommon for most of us to be blessed with a balance of the three of them, and that most small business owners are actually seventy percent Technician, twenty percent manager, and only ten percept entrepreneur.
No matter what combination you are of the three, or whichever your dominant type is, it is important that you try to cultivate each personality type within you, with foresight enough to know that your dominant one will always try to take control. And to ensure that you don't get blind-sighted by your weaker persona's inability to keep up, create a team that enables you to stay in your area of strength and genius, while partnering with others who compliment you in areas where you are deficient.
Gerber concludes that, “an entrepreneurial business, without a Manager to give it order and without a Technician to put it to work, is doomed to suffer and early and probably very dramatic death. And that a Manger-driven business, without an Entrepreneur or a Technician to play their absolutely critical roles, will put things into little gray boxes over and over again..such a business will die neatly. And a Technician-driven business without The Entrepreneur to lead her and the Manager to supervise her, the Technician will work til she drops.. only to discover long after its too late that while she was working someone moved a freeway through the store!”
These different personalities are interdependent upon one another, and must work together for your business to succeed. If you are experiencing struggles in your business, perhaps by identifying which personality is behind the steering wheel and which one needs to take over, you can course correct, and create solutions for growth.
The question for you, as a business owner, is, how can you create more balance by giving each personality within you more life? Can you learn to identify which personality is functioning at various times? And how can you create a team around you that supports you in the personality type/characteristics where you are weak and need greater support in?
Let us know your answers to these questions, I am eager to see where you land among the personalities!
Want the book? Get it on Amazon here:
Natalia Sanchez, Business Strategist and Leadership Development Coach