Whew! This book is exhilarating! This is one of those books that once you pick it up, you don’t put it down until your heart is racing, your breathing is accelerated, and your mind is feverishly trying to keep up with your desire to finish the book! Sheesh! I see why so many people recommend this one. I think the best part is that the author is a great story teller. He pulls you in by telling you all about yourself and then allows you to come to your own conclusions about how best to proceed towards a brighter future of endless possibilities. I was on such an emotional high that I had to force myself to put the book down just to ensure that I could retain some of the wisdom that I was absorbing. I don’t want this to be just another book. I want to re-focus my energy on internalizing the lessons so that I can apply them and share them with others. Let’s dive in to today’s reading.
The main theme for today was our introduction to the three personalities that battle within all small business owners: The Technician, The Manager, and the Entrepreneur. I must say that I was quite tickled as Mr. Michael Gerber proceeded to put a label and a description on three aspects of my being that actually have been in a bit of a tussle ever since I began working on The Royal Oak Initiative.
Basically, he begins by calling out the employees who got tired of their bosses. I hear it all the time in my line of work. “I want to be my own boss.” I don’t think I have ever used those words simply because I never experienced the apparent oppression of employment under a despised supervisor, however, my actions probably say otherwise.
The thought of independence followed you everywhere. p. 12
I enjoy the ability to control my time and my day. Sometimes, I enjoy the ability to control my results. My desire to control outcomes is apparently typical of the entrepreneur personality. But let me not jump too far ahead.
I think it’s interesting that I was not one of these people who said “if I were to start a business, what would it be?” I think ROI came specifically out of an observation of a perceived need for more intentional critical thinking especially around personal finances. I’m not going to lie; I did get a bit caught up in the fantasy of being one of the world’s greatest financial minds and business owners, single-handily changing the world as we know it. Then reality sets in a bit and I’m brought back down to Earth where I question my mere existence. Luckily, there is much more of a balance these days that allows me to slowly but steadily get back on track towards delivering to the world a refined service that could just maybe change the world of a few, thereby rippling into the future.
Sidenote: This is why I love reading! It makes you feel like a writer and your thoughts just flow in one stream of consciousness, allowing you to release such pent up energy in a way that brings a smile to your face and to your heart. For you know that in your expressive delivery, you are being unapologetically true to yourself.
According to Mr. Gerber, many small business owners are just disgruntled employees who decide to make their own jobs based on a misguided assumption that because one can do work well one can run a business.
That Fatal Assumption is: if you understand the technical work of a business, you understand a business that does technical work. p. 13
I must say that this book has caused me to do some serious soul searching and self-reflection. I think that may be part of the reason why I’m so introspective is because I read so many self-development books that force you to hold yourself accountable and to be honest about where you are in with respect to how you want your life to be. Am I where I want to be? Not quite. So how do I get there? That’s the key question. Something that I read about constantly in entrepreneurial material is that we should focus less on finding the right answers but more of our energy should be spent searching for the right questions. Then we wouldn’t waste so much of our precious time, talents and treasures on meaningless muck. We would recognize the true best application of our gifts and we would thereby surround ourselves with others who can complement our willingness to let go of those tasks that don’t suit our abilities.
I’m pleased that some of the pitfalls of many small business owners do not seem to be issues for me. Since I am naturally more of a visionary, I don’t get as caught up in this idea of doing all the work myself. However, I do end up trying to do all of the work myself, especially work that doesn’t directly lead to desired results. I think a blend of the personality assessment that we use at work with the one in the book would describe me the best. I’m an Entrepreneurial Technician, with my eyes on the sky and my head in a book. I believe that I most need more of The Manager, the aspect of a person that focuses on progress. The Entrepreneur focuses on year to year, The Manager focuses on day to day, and The Technician focuses on hour to hour. I need more of The Manager.
I’m glad I’m reading this book now because I have been blessed with a glimpse of the future if I don’t make some changes now. Burnout is real! I have already experienced it with ROI. Apparently, many a business owner puts so much effort into trying to run their business himself or herself that they end up trying to do everything and end up doing nothing well. Then the business crashes. I know that I need to get more help. But just like we see in the book, we get nervous about showing other people are brainchild. What will they think about it? Also, that would require giving up some control, which requires trust! People call their businesses their babies. That’s a big deal, and I’m just supposed to hand this over to strangers?! Well, not exactly. That’s where discretion comes into play. But I digress.
We hear a story about a lady named Sarah who starts a pie shop but eventually the shop enslaves her time and money.
The technician suffering from an Entrepreneurial Seizure takes the work he loves to do and turns it into a job. The work that was born out of love becomes a chore, among a welter of other less familiar and less pleasant chores. Rather than maintaining its specialness, representing the unique skill the technician possesses and upon which he started the business, the work becomes trivialized, something to get through in order to make room for everything else that must be done. p. 17
And so begins the battle of priorities! What is it exactly that we should be focused on? To introduce us to the warring personalities within us all, we are given the example of The Fat Guy vs. The Skinny Guy. Round 1. FIGHT! I actually just experienced this conflict in which all of a sudden you get inspired to get skinny and start making all these changes but then your motivation slowly runs out because you realize not only that you were just inspired and not really motivated but also that progress takes a long time! It’s not that you’re truly a bad person or lazy. It’s just that you have various parts of your personality that will emerge supreme based on the conditions and circumstances. If your inspiration increases, you will look for any excuse not to put in that work- or at least that’s what I do. That’s why I have to put certain things in place to make it easier for me to do what I need to do. For example, if I need to wake up early, I’ll go to sleep early.
It’s not that we’re indecisive or unreliable; it’s that each and every one of us is a whole set of different personalities, each with his own interests and way of doing things. p. 23
To The Entrepreneur, most people are problems that get in the way of the dream. p. 25
Where The Entrepreneur craves control, The Manager craves order. p. 25
I’m kind of skipping over some really good material in these chapters but I highlighted the material that most spoke to my current situation and characteristics. The Entrepreneur is the dreamer. The Manager is the organizer. The Technician is the doer. I can easily see why we need all three. Most technicians get caught up in the weeds and don’t focus on the big picture. I know I can do that sometimes, especially with work as I pursue licenses, certifications, and information without necessarily applying what I’m learning.
‘I wonder’ is the true work of the entrepreneurial personality. p. 33
It is self-evident that businesses, like people, are supposed to grow; and with growth, comes change. Unfortunately, most businesses are not run according to this principle. Instead most businesses are operated according to what the owner wants as opposed to what the business needs. p. 34
As The Technician, you’re accustomed to “paying your dues.” So the hours devoted to the business during Infancy are not spent grudgingly but optimistically. p. 35
I really liked this point. This is how I approach reading and studying. You gotta do what you gotta do to get the result you want. But once again, the key is to focus on doing the right things at the right times. A lot of technicians will kill themselves in their businesses while paying their dues but not really doing the work necessary to transition to the next phase of development. I’ll have to watch out for that.
Because as a Technician-turned-business-owner, your focus is upside down. You see the world from the bottom up rather than from the top down. You have a tactical view rather than a strategic view. p. 38
I appreciate this sentiment as it relates very much so to what we do in chess. Some folks get so caught up in the tricks and tactics that they never develop a sustainable methodology of play. This is evident in that many beginners just focus on opening tricks, but when thrust into the mysterious world of the middle-game, they are quickly exposed for not having developed strategic thinking that employs tactics but doesn’t get lost in them.
And it’s the work you’re not doing, the strategic work, the entrepreneurial work, that will lead your business forward, that will give you the life you’ve not yet known. p. 39
We’re almost done! This was a lot of material to go through!
“Don’t you see? If your business depends on you, you don’t own a business- you have a job. And it’s the worst job in the world because you’re working for a lunatic!” p. 40
I hear this at work all the time. “Don’t you want a business that doesn’t depend on you?” Yes, yes I do. Why? Because I’m not always consistent and I don’t want my idiosyncrasies to negatively impact the result that I desire. #Message. I don’t think I have ever really understood what they were saying until now. It’s really about your personal goals. I know I want to eradicate economic opportunity inequality. That vision shouldn’t have to be slowed down by my having a bad day.
“The purpose of going into business is to get free of a job so you can create jobs for other people. The purpose of going into business is to expand beyond your existing horizons. So you can invent something that satisfies a need in the marketplace that has never been satisfied. So you can live an expanded, stimulating new life.” p. 41
“And to play this new game, called building a small business that actually works, your Entrepreneur needs to be coaxed out, nourished, and given the room she needs to expand, and your Manager needs to be supported as well so she can develop her skill at creating order and translating the entrepreneurial vision into actions that can be efficiently manifested in the real world. p. 42
Adolescence beings at the point in the life of your business when you decide to get some help. p. 43
The key is to get help, but not to give your business to someone else. No one knows your business like you do and no one can see the vision as clearly as the creator. I think that’s what I fear. But now I know that the inevitable will arise if I don’t seek help early. The key is to focus on teamwork and delegation rather than abdication.
This was a really long entry. But it was satisfying. I’m almost tempted to keep reading. Hmm. I’ll take a little break and see how I feel after than. Until next time! 🙂