I love books. For those of you who know me, this will not come as a surprise, but I love a good novel. In fact, for a long time, I rarely read anything besides novels. I didn’t want to read anything work related (and rarely did) because it felt like… well, work. So, for years, I generally turned a blind eye to “work” books, and focused on what I really loved to read… angsty love stories. But as we launched 2 Smart Girls, I realized how much stuff I didn’t know, how the best way for me to get more knowledge (for free) was to read, read, read. It was like a lightening strike in a dead forest. A fire ignited inside me, and my need to consume information relevant to my work was unstoppable.
So, you’re probably wondering what my reading habits have to do with you. Well, this wildfire of knowledge has been like a much-needed rebirth for us, and we want to share the benefits of our voracious reading habits with you. Every few weeks, we’re going to be sharing lessons we’ve learned from some of our favorite books in hopes it’ll spawn new ideas for you to consider.
First on the docket is what I consider a must-read for all entrepreneurs. The E-Myth Revisited by Michael E. Gerber masterfully dispels the myths of entrepreneurship, explains how our own expertise and basic assumptions of starting our own business gets in our way, and provides a practical roadmap for how to build a small business using the franchise model, even if you never plan to franchise your business. His theoretical and practical storytelling approach make this book easy to consume and apply, and I want to share just one of the many concepts that has continued to challenge my thinking since I first read it.
For a long time, I thought running a business was simply about delivering value for your client. I felt like my role was just to “do” the work. I had no concept of how many ideas would be floating around in my head all the time, how much time it would take to put systems in place, or how difficult the struggle for efficiency would be. In fact, it never occurred to me that my role would be anything other than “expert”, but in reality, if you’re a business owner, you’re really three people in one. No, we’re not talking about the Holy Trinity here, at least not religiously speaking, but we’re talking about the three distinct roles every business owner plays in her business: the technician, the entrepreneur, and the manager.
Let’s start with the one I guarantee you know best.
The Technician is the role you play every day and is likely the reason you felt confident enough to open your business in the first place. In most cases, if you’re like us, you were a successful practitioner in your trade, whether that’s a rockin’ sales training manager like Christy, a skilled facilitator like me, a talented graphic designer, or gifted artisan. You were an expert in your field, the go-to person in your previous life, and that means you know HOW to do the work. This is important, obviously, because when you own a business, you have to give something of value – your expertise, time, and/or talent – in exchange for payment. We ALL thrive here because it’s what we’ve been groomed for and paid to do for years. In a nutshell, it’s comfortable.
Unfortunately, you cannot exclusively live here when you own your business, even though it feels really good. Without the other two roles (or parts of yourself since you are all of them) there will be no vision, no plan, and no structure to hold it all together.
The Entrepreneur is the second role. Entrepreneurs, as you probably expect, are visionary by nature. They are idea people. The entrepreneur has grand ideas for what she wants her life to look like and how having the freedom to explore a business of her choosing can make that happen. She has loads of ideas about what could be and sees the potential in a new product offering that doesn’t currently exist on the market. Entrepreneurs cannot stop talking about their ideas, and in some ways, it makes marketing and selling those ideas seem like a piece of cake. There’s so much passion in this space it’s contagious.
Entrepreneurs love the potential for change, and it’s likely that this spirit, this idea of freedom, along with the technician’s expertise, is exactly what prompted you to take the leap from your professional life in the first place. For many of us, me included, the appeal and draw of helping other women grow into the best possible version of themselves, being their own boss, and having the flexibility to do what they need to do for their family is beyond powerful.
But here’s the rub. It’s not enough to just have ideas. Your expertise as the technician is needed in order to put those ideas into practice, and you’ll see that the next role, The Manager, is needed to bring order to the craziness of your ideas.
Where the entrepreneur is full of ideas and a good bit of chaos, the manager is full of practicality and process. As the manager of your business, this is where your systems come into play. In many ways, the manager side of you is constantly supervising your technician/expert self to make sure you’re on track. It’s the manager side of you that sets boundaries for yourself, puts standard work hours in place (even in the early days when all you want to do is eat, sleep, and breathe your business because it’s all so exciting), and makes your processes as efficient as possible over time.
Now, if you’re scratching your head saying, “What processes? What structure? What systems?” then it’s probably time to pause for a second and take a hard look at your business. Your time is too precious to constantly be scrambling to meet your deadlines. So, take a day or two to look at how you handle your finances, your orders or deliverables, how your customers/clients experience your services, and any other process you use (because you have them, you just may not think of them like that). It’s time to get yourself organized, Smart Girl. Your inner technician and entrepreneur need it. In the coming weeks, we’ll be sharing some ideas for how you can structure your day, week, and month to be a bit more organized and efficient.
So, if you’ve ever sat at your desk or behind your easel or wherever you do your work and felt torn in multiple directions, now you know why. You’ve got three people inside of you vying for your attention. Ideally, they’d all happily share it equally, but Gerber’s research, and likely your own experience, shows that most small business owners are typically “only 10 percent Entrepreneur, 20 percent Manager, and 70 percent Technician.”
It’s time to take stock of your reality to see if it’s working for you. I can tell you with certainty, when we first started 2 Smart Girls it was a hot mess of technicians running amok as we tried to deliver The Mini Mental Makeover with no systems and a bunch of ideas floating around like a glitter bomb at a sorority party.
On a practical level, here are few questions to ask each of your roles:
Why am I doing this business as opposed to a different one?
What kind of life do I want to create for myself?
How does my business support this life I want to create for myself?
What systems do I need that will enable me to run this business successfully?
How can I do things differently? More efficiently?
What kind of structure and processes can I put into my day/week/month to make it a bit easier on myself?
What part of this work do I need to do?
What parts can others do?
How can I change my approach to this work for the better?
It’s time to dream and look at where your business is now… and where you want it to be in the future. We’re excited to be on this journey with you. Think of this exercise as a chance to take a deep breath of fresh air. It’s okay to catch your breath. In fact, it’s essential if you’re in this for the long haul. You’ve got this!
Until next week, be present, be strong, be you!