Chapter Two

But, I Can Do It Better

Perhaps your idea for a business stems from the job you already have. Maybe you're a graphic designer and have ideas about how you would run things if this was your business. That’s ambitious, but it's not the only thing you need to start a successful enterprise.

Michael Gerber's book The E-Myth Revisited discusses this concept. To launch a successful company, you need to be an entrepreneur, a manager, and a technician. Few people naturally excel in all three areas.

The general break down between the three types are:

  1. Entrepreneur: The entrepreneur type is one that lives in the future, they are a natural visionary. Typically they don’t like to implement on the vision, but to create the vision. Don’t try and box in the visionary or you won’t get 100% from them.
  2. Manager: The manager is more of the operator, they love to come up with crafting strategies and assigning tactics. Unlike the entrepreneur they thrive on boundaries like budgets and timelines.
  3. Technician: The technician is a doer. They need a task and the resources to complete it. As with the entrepreneur it is best not to tell the technician how to do their job, but tell them what the result is that you need and any other details. Then get out of the way.

Be honest and identify which area is your strength and which is a weakness. People aren’t exclusively one type, this is especially true when running your own business. Early on you need to dedicate time to all 3. I’ve found it works well to create specific blocks of time dedicated to these 3 areas on the following schedule*:

  • Monday/Tuesday: Visionary

  • Wednesday/Thursday: Technician

  • Friday: Manager

* If you think you can get away with a 5 day work week when building a business you’ll be surprised :)

The focus isn’t to only do those tasks on those days, but to be intentional on blocking off time to those facets of the business. This schedule works best for me as I’ve found my natural seat as the visionary. So whatever type of work gives you the most energy start with that, then end the week with work that you can complete without a lot of brain power.

For example, if you’re a web designer, you probably are excited about your web design being pixel perfect to your Photoshop mockup. You may feel right at home behind the computer screen. But how are your people skills? Your idea for the business may be awesome, but how do you plan to market it? Are you comfortable cold calling and selling your services? How will you manage invoices, overhead, and other financial components? Most importantly, how will you enrich your customers' lives? You’ll be wearing many hats as a business owner, and the sooner you begin this mental transition, the better off you’ll be. So again, be intentional with it.

Write down these three categories, and list the responsibilities associated with each. Highlight the ones you’re comfortable doing. Then see which are left, and determine if it’s something you can learn to do or are better off outsourcing. This gives you time to research where you can learn additional skills and network to find appropriate resources to fill skill gaps.

From experience, I can tell you two areas, that unless you are working directly in these areas you should get off your plate right away: payroll and accounting. Even if you aren’t sure how much you’ll pay yourself or when you can pay yourself, get connected through QuickBooks or a similar payroll service, to make sure that you are filing the correct monthly/quarterly forms and you are having taxes withheld. It doesn’t take much of a system, but you’ll be glad that it is off your plate before you get going.

Similarly find an accountant that can help you structure things so your end of year tax filings aren’t a complete nightmare. Plus a good accountant will help teach you along the way, so when you are purchasing assets there isn’t a hidden surprise.

If you’re still employed, begin the mindset transformation before leaving your current job. This situation will provide you with the stability of a paycheck and other resources during the early stages of your business creation. Is there something you can learn at your current job that will benefit the start-up? Can you model business plans off of your current employer’s and avoid creating them from scratch? Be careful here not to copy or take any intellectual property from your employer, but you can always use the experience you’ve gained in a position to know how you’d like to handle a similar situation in your business.

Having a regular paycheck that lets you start planning your businesses vision and direction in your off time gives you a huge resource: you don’t have to be desperate for your first sale to get income in the door.

Business is a full contact sport, you must start thinking about your businesses 24/7. Your job is no longer 9-5; you live and breathe your work.

You’re likely extremely passionate about your business, but you must be objective. It’s important to identify what works well and what doesn’t. If you can build a process into your week to retroactively see what worked and what didn’t from the week you’d be miles ahead of many consultants that get stuck just doing the work and not growing your business.

If something isn’t working, change it. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing and expecting a different outcome. Don’t make the mistake of an employee and continue to do something the same way because “that’s the way it’s done.”

The success or failure of your business will lie directly on your shoulders. There are factors that will impact if you succeed or fail, but ultimately it’s more important how you respond to the external factors than it is what they are.

Action Item

  1. Write down all of the functions you think you’ll need to run your business like shown below. Indicate which areas you are wanting to do, which you aren’t, and any costs associated with them. Then group them into Entrepreneur, Manager, Technician.

TaskOutsourceCostEnt, Mgr, Tech
Accounting yes $100 per mo Tech
Marketing Strategy no -- Ent
Marketing Campaigns no -- Tech
Invoicing no -- Mgr