One of the primary challenges of entrepreneurship is the fact that small business owners need to possess so many skills and wear so many hats in order to realize sustained small business growth. On the one hand, they are required to be the visionaries for their new business or startup, while at the same time they are required to be a detail-oriented executor who can rally his or her organization to get things done effectively.
This is one of the key reasons why so few entrepreneurs are successful at the various stages of small business growth, beginning with the startup phase all the way through sustained growth and, if things go well, becoming a large organization. While entrepreneurs such as Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg provide case studies of those that can adjust and make the transitions through the various phases of growth, the reality is that most small business owners don’t have the personality types, skills sets, or interest in doing so.
Regardless of which phase your startup or small business may be in, there are a number of key roles that you need to fill as a small business owner. The skills and focus required for each of these roles are varied, which is just one reason why managing a small business can be so difficult.
According to the book The E-Myth Revisited by Michael Gerber, there are three key roles that small business owners must fill on a day-to-day basis:
1. Small Business Technician
Most entrepreneurs start businesses that they are intimately familiar with and passionate about. Along with this knowledge and passion comes a deep understanding of how their product or service works. In fact, in the earliest days of their businesses, most small business owners find that they act as one-man shows by creating, selling, and delivering the product or service that their business provides. As their company grows, small business owners often find that they are more knowledgeable of their product or service than anyone else in their companies.
The entrepreneurial role requires the small business owner to create the vision and start a company behind the product or service that the small business technician side of them understands so well. This role requires creativity, a clear vision, a high tolerance for risk, and perseverance – something that not all technicians have, which explains why so many don’t ever go on to start their own businesses.
3. Small Business Manager
Finally, small business owners need to act as managers to provide structure, predictability, and consistency to the small business created via the other two roles. Obviously, this role requires a very different skill set and personality type than required by the other two roles, which is why not all entrepreneurs are able to effectively fill this role. However, this function is critical to creating a sustainable, growing company that evolves into a standalone organization that isn’t so dependent on the entrepreneur who started the company.
The Conflict Between These Three Roles
It is probably no surprise that these three roles are in direct conflict with one another. The technician and manager sides of a small business owner are often times so focused on creating a product or service that they lack the strategic vision to build a company around it. On the other hand, the entrepreneur side of one’s personality often times prevents them from having the methodical structure required to build an efficient company, which is the strength of the manager.
So what does a small business owner do? They have one of two options. First, they can hire a team to address their weaknesses and deficiencies. Second, they can become better at any of the areas they are lacking via relevant small business training courses, which can be easier said than done. Either way, it is important to recognize that all three of these roles are important and need to be addressed by the team and organization.
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