Do you consider yourself a business owner or an entrepreneur? It’s not a trick question however, the two are not the same. The entrepreneur is often obsessed with the great product or innovative idea. The business owner is consumed with policy, plans and procedure. Can they be the same person?

Sometimes, you start out as one and morph into the other. Or, if you’re Steve Jobs in the mid-’80?s (a true entrepreneur) you get fired from your ‘baby’ – Apple – by the guy you brought in to be the ‘business owner’ (John Sculley, formerly of Pepsico, who couldn’t reign in the very creative Jobs).

So which one are you? A new business often needs the impassioned entrepreneur to develop momentum, market presence, strategic alliances – all to get the product out into the world.  Then, as the business establishes trends, procedures, & standards, it’s important to have a business owner’s ‘head’, the perspective that gets operations humming along with capable, focused employees while you move on to the big picture development of the business as a whole. And it’s in this stage of your own ownership development that you get to enjoy ‘Lifestyle Entrepreneur’ status – having a business that works for you.

Stay aware of dynamic changes in the role you play in the developing business. At first, it’s all about the product or service you’re bringing into the world. Then things change; your focus shifts from the initial ‘great idea’ to the totality of the business – its reputations, alliances, processes, people, relationships. Your business becomes the only product you need to develop.

If you can’t make the leap from birthing a product to birthing a business, it’s time to jump ship and move on to your next great idea because a business can’t survive and thrive with only a a great product. The whole context – the business in which that product is developed and sold – becomes critical and if the entrepreneur is all about ‘the great idea’ and not the home in which the great idea is nurtured and launched, it’s time to move on and bring in a business owner. Amazingly – that would now be Steve Jobs who’s grown into a business owner with a model that serves him – and happily, me too!

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    Andrea Feinberg
    Andrea Feinberg, M.B.A., Cert. S.B.L. Coach, Cert. P.B. Analyst, Cert. EQ Mentor, drags small business owners away from the daily details and into the revenue producing, big picture focus of their business. The result is more money, more free time, a better night's sleep and an asset that one day, they'll sell for a bundle. Want to find out how you're robbing your business daily? Read "The Buck STARTS Here"

    9 Responses to “Do Entrepreneurs Make Lousy Business Owners?”

    1. Excellent point, and I bet most people don’t realize there is a difference. But it’s huge. Entrepreneurs tend to get bored by the humdrum day-to-day business of managing a business, and get distracted by incubation. Ultimately, I think what it means is that ideally businesses should be partnerships, with each partner playing a different role.

      • Excellent recommendation, Andy; the ‘yin/yang’ partnership can work well as long as the partners recognize the value and responsibility they each bring. However, barring that, the first big step is simply recognizing that a business may start out representing us personally (entrepreneurs) but if it’s to last as an ongoing business and not purely ego gratification, it needs far more as it goes through its life cycle.
        Andrea Feinberg recently posted…Time is in the Mind of the BeholderMy Profile

    2. Dhana says:

      Great point. I’ve always believed that an Entrepreneur is different from a Business Owner, and to extend it a bit further, they are different from a Corporate Executive as well.

      One need to realize what truly resonates with him – Entrepreneur OR Biz Owner ? And, accordingly he either remain in the venture OR exit at the appropriate time !. Without knowing who he truly is, is a problem for himself and the rest of the world !.

    3. Jessica says:

      Great article…so true!

    4. Maureen says:

      I am definitely an entrepreneur but I CAN be a Business Owner as well. Maybe one role is working ON the business and the other is working IN the business.
      Maureen recently posted…A Magic Trick for Your Visual BrainMy Profile

      • Hi Maureen ~ I think both roles call for rising above the daily operations and having the big picture perspective to work ‘on’ the business. The entrepreneur sees the innovative future to keep building the business’ offerings; the biz owner sees the opportunities in alliances, reputation, partnerships and systems. What a great conversation all; thanks so much for the thoughtful responses!

    5. myriud says:

      Basically, to succeed in business or anything in life it is all about relationships/partnerships. Whether that be with a customer, supplier, partner, the more strong relationships the merrier.

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