Guest blogger and trusted business associate, Bill Boyer is the President of Tidewater CEO, a consulting/coaching organization for small company CEO’s. He can be reached at bill@tidewaterceo.com or 757-233-2577.

Tidewater CEOIn today’s tough economy, we all focus too much on just getting the daily work done.  This is also an easy mistake to make even when business is good.  “The work” is the daily activities of our business.  We are all trying to reduce expenses as much as possible or increase tomorrow’s sales, but by concentrating only on these daily activities, we will be making a mistake that will haunt us in the future.  We must be taking time to plan on the continued development and improvement of our business.

We often make the mistake of thinking “What would I do if I do not do the work?”  Or another, “I can’t afford to delegate the work.”  Your business will not grow much if you are doing all the work.  You become the bottleneck to your growth.  Does Donald Trump deal cards at the blackjack table?  You must be responsible for the “big stuff,” not the “little stuff.”

In 1985 Michael Gerber wrote the book, The E-Myth, which has become one of the most popular business books in the last 25 years.  He published an update to it, The E-Myth

Revisited, in 1995.  The primary premise in both books is that all owners have three different roles in their businesses.

  1. The entrepreneur.  This role is probably the most fun, but also the most challenging.  You are creating the vision and the direction for your business.  During this time the owner is thinking about the start-up of his company.  He is developing his strategy, and meeting potential clients and employees.  He is meeting with banks, attorneys, insurance agents and possibly investors.  He is telling his story to all these people and probably others.  While there are many challenges, the company is starting up, sales are being made.  This is an exciting time-adrenalin is flowing.  This is the time when you are the dreamer/creator.  You are looking towards the future and your plans are based on your future goals.
  2. The manager.  The manager function is defined by a transition from doing the day-to-day work that produces revenue to organizing and supervising others who will do the day-to-day work.  You now become the pragmatist, planner, and organizer. As the company grows the owner/manger determines that he needs more people to help him run his business and he starts hiring.  Along with the hiring comes the need for employee procedures and an employee handbook. He should develop a procedure manual to help with the running of the business. He will have to decide on what responsibilities to delegate to others and he will start to develop the organization.  This can be enjoyable, but we find that most people really do not like having to develop the procedures and manage people on a daily basis.  This can be frustrating, because very few employees will do the work as well or as efficiently as the business owner.
  3. The technician or the doer.  Now you are representing the tactical view of the business, not the strategic view.  You are looking at just what needs to be done each day to get the product out or satisfy the demands of your customer.  If your employees cannot do what needs to be done, you just do it yourself because you can do it better.  You become your own gerbil–just running on that treadmill.  You are no longer building value for your business or working to move the business forward.  You no longer own the business: the business owns you as you become just another employee.  Remember that the technician does little to move the business forward or to create value.

As a business grows, you as the owner/manager will have to fulfill all of these roles at certain times.  But under the daily pressure to produce, most owners become too much the technician.  Their total focus becomes the daily task list.  They do not take the time to step back and plan for the future, or to evaluate existing problems and correct them.  The business growth is limited to what you can accomplish by yourself.

Studies have determined that most small business owners function 10% as entrepreneur, 20% as manager, and 70% as technician.  There is no universal answer, as the optimal percentage will vary based on the maturity of your business.  But spending only 10% of your time in the entrepreneur function is not sufficient.

Where are you?  Remember that the entrepreneur is obsessed with building a business that works without them.  The entrepreneur prepares himself/herself and their company for growth by building a foundation and structure that can carry the weight imposed by growth.

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