Do Entrepreneurs Make Lousy Business Owners?
By Andrea Feinberg
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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