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We Don’t Find the Sandbars With An Anchor in the Water

Our desire for safety is paralyzing. We’re so afraid of hitting a sandbar that we’re willing to just sit in the harbor for years on end. Then we have the audacity to wonder why our business never grows up.

Think of the Steering Wheel on a boat as “Purposeful Direction”, and the Engine as “Commitment”. I’m a big fan of both commitment and purpose. One without the other is of no value. Nothing is more important to how quickly you will get where you’re going than the size and fitness of your engine combined with ongoing attention to the helm. Most of us don’t pay attention to either. We’re just sitting at anchor most of the time.

The single biggest factor in getting somewhere is the steering wheel of your life and business – a purposeful direction (see last week’s post). But if you know where you want to go and you aren’t committed to getting there, I mean fundamentally sold out to that end game, the journey will take a very long time and you will likely lose steam before you ever get there. If your engine of commitment isn’t big enough it’s likely you really don’t have a clear understanding of where you want to go – the steering wheel has no direction.

The only way to find the sandbars in life and in business is to get the ship moving and then start taking soundings. And if you’re commitment is big, you’ll get where you want to go a lot faster and easier than those who are puttering around with little outboard engines.

It’s all about committed movement in a purposeful direction. Lack of committed movement is failure.

Are you fully committed to moving in order to find out what works, or are you sitting around wondering where the sandbars are?

We Burn a Lot of Fuel On Takeoff

Business owners are always wondering how the next guy seems to get things off the ground so well and why they themselves are always struggling to just keep what they have afloat. It’s because we don’t understand momentum.

Ideas don’t happen because we thought them up, and they aren’t sustained because we kick started them. I have a lot of business owners right now saying to me, “Doesn’t if feel great to have your book totally done and out there?” (see my book). Some of them know it’s only the start, but a lot of them are saying this to mean, “Won’t it be fun to sit back and watch the sales roll in?”.

Birthing a book, a project, a new product, a business, hiring an employee or any other new initiative is a lot like having a baby. If you brought a newborn home would you show it the house, lay it beside the refrigerator and say “Well, you’ve gotten the tour and there’s the fridge. We’ll be playing golf if you have any questions!”

Too often we start new things to solve a problem, but end up creating one because we pull out of the process way too soon.

A jet on a 3,000 mile transatlantic flight burns at least 50% of it’s fuel just getting to cruise altitude in the first few miles. The next nearly 3,000 miles takes only half as much effort. Everything in business is a lot like this.

“Finishing” a book, hiring an employee, training on a procedure, bringing on a new client, or rolling out a new product all require outside help because initially these have no momentum of their own. The inertia is overwhelming and the only way to overcome it is to push hard yourself. When you do this, you feel like the airplane at the beginning of the runway – a lot of fussing and fuming, roaring of engines and blinking of lights…and the wheels haven’t even moved yet.

We don’t get it because we put out a huge amount of effort getting that project started and since there is no movement, we assume things are going wrong. The only thing going wrong is that we don’t understand momentum.

You burn a lot of fuel before the wheels even move, and a lot more just rolling down the runway, and still the wheels aren’t even off the ground. The only way to break through all the inertia is to push even harder. But just before the wheels are about to leave the ground is about where most business owners start slowing down. The project never quite does what they wanted to accomplish and they chalk it up to outside forces.

The joy is if you push through the initial inertia, the project, employee, book, etc., will begin to get momentum of its own, requiring less and less outside momentum from you. Just know that your commitment, excitement, vision, clarity, direction, purpose, and in-the-trenches hard work are required to get it there.

Don’t stop pushing until you’re at cruise altitude. And when you get there, make sure you have someone else pushing and someone else at the controls. You’ll make more money in less time and enjoy the ride a lot more if everything is in place to keep it all in the air for you.

Planning won’t even get you a good plan, let alone success.

Stop thinking. Get moving.

Planning does not create success or even the best plan. It also doesn’t create action. Most planning just creates paper, spreadsheets, complexity, doubt, paralysis, and dream-dampening. There are two things that create a far better plan than planning itself.

If you believe that meticulous and detailed planning of every possible contingency is the best way to create success you won’t like this post. To make matters worse, I’m probably going to accuse you of living in a dream world.

How many SUCCESSFUL businesses were started from a highly developed business plan? Next to none. And of the very, very few I’ve found that were started from a business plan, when asked how that worked out for them, most laughed but none said that reality had followed their excel spreadsheet plan.

Yet we keep slavishly promoting an antique practice that has almost never done anything for anyone except get someone an “A” in an MBA class on how to build a business plan. Oh, and it will get you into debt, because banks are still requiring business plans so they have a teddy bear to hold while they give you money. None of those work out either, but most banks haven’t figured out there is a much better way to see if someone is going to be successful.

This isn’t a blog on the attributes of success (maybe I’ll do that one next week), but creating a 30-page business plan isn’t one of them. To the contrary, the simpler the initial plan, the better, because it’s going to change anyway.

I advocate a 2-Page Strategic Plan (never do another classic Business Plan unless you have an antique bank asking for one). A simple 2-page Strategic Plan is set up to change, adapt, and be clarified every one to three months – you know, sort of like life.

It shouldn’t take more than a few hours to do it because, again, like life, it’s going to change very quickly. The only part that is likely to not change is the objective – what do we want to see as a result? The rest of it is up for grabs – anything that gets us to that result will be added and anything that isn’t will be removed.

Once you’ve got a simple plan, the two keys to making it into a great plan are:

  1. Commitment (to the objective, not a plan)
  2. Movement (in a purposeful directions toward the objective, not “activity” based on a plan)

It is NEVER how good your plan is that creates success, but how committed you are to the bad plan you’ve got and how willing you are to get moving on it NOW. As you move with absolute commitment in a clear direction toward the objective – that commitment and that movement will work together to make your so-so plan into a world class one.

Commitment and movement create success, not a tortured 30-page document. And a simple 2-page plan will become brilliant over time if there is enough commitment to the objective and enough movement to inform you what to keep doing and what to keep changing.

Stop thinking, get a clear objective and get moving with abandoned commitment toward that goal. Use the movement to make the plan better all the time. You’ll make more money in less time by committed movement than you will by sitting around trying to figure out what might go wrong.

Do you have balance across the Seven Elements of a Business?

Business divides pretty neatly into seven categories or “elements” that all businesses must pay attention to in order to be successful. They exist whether we pay attention to them or not. If we pay attention, we are successful, if we don’t, we are not.

Most businesses reflect the strength of their owner/founder, who are really good at one, two, or maybe even three of the seven. The successful business makes sure they get the people and systems in place to have all seven humming.

Get a handle on these seven elements, and get off the treadmill. All great business owners do.

The Seven Elements of a Business are:

  1. Vision & Leadership (mission, vision, principles)
  2. Business Development (sales, marketing, research)
  3. Operations & Delivery (get a process that delivers a consistent experience)
  4. Financial Management (improve cashflow and profit just by paying attention)
  5. Customer Satisfaction (almost no one has a process for this critical Element)
  6. Employee Satisfaction (treat them like they are #1 and they will do the same for your clients)
  7. Community, Family, Self (how is your business impacting the world around you?)

STAY IN YOUR ELEMENT

The key is to know which Elements you are really good at, and how to get others to bring the others up to speed. Sometimes early on, we have to cover them ourselves, but knowing which ones you’re great at and which ones you want to off load puts you in a better position to get off the treadmill faster and get others doing the things that aren’t your cup of tea.

KEEP IT SIMPLE IS STILL THE RULE.

If you can’t stand in the middle of the room and share your system for each of the Seven Elements in 30-120 seconds, it’s likely you’ll never use it. Systems are not 3″ binders that sit on desks. They are a remarkably simple set of lean, efficient, time-tested set of steps that everyone knows and everyone uses in the every day of doing business. For most businesses, your entire Systems Manual with all Seven Elements shouldn’t be more than a few pages long. If you can’t share it from memory without memorizing it, you won’t use it.

FIGURE OUT WHAT YOU’RE DOING AND GET IT OUT OF YOUR HEAD.

For each of the Seven Elements, ask yourself:

  1. What is the process I do now for each Element? (You’ve got one, whether it’s well thought out or ad hoc.) Write it down.
  2. What part of that process is working? What isn’t? Keep what is, and take your best guess at what would work to change what isn’t. Don’t spend hours or days thinking about it. Just change it. The only way you’ll know if it works is if you try it. If it doesn’t, change it again until you find the right process. If it’s broken, those quick “experiements” won’t be an worse than what you’re doing and will lead you to the best process.
  3. Get others involved. Create ownership by having others take a stab at the processes that will effect their work the most. They’ll likely to know more than you do about it anyway.
  4. Keep it to one page or less per Element. Resist the temptation to write an Operations Manual. It will sit on a shelf and you’ll never use it. Some of the processes you write down should be less than half a page; maybe one of the Seven might take a full page, but see if you can’t keep them to less seven steps or less per process. Again, if you can’t stand up and share the whole process quickly, you won’t use it.
  5. Prioritize the ones that create the most challenge for you. Get outside help if at all possible. Otherwise you’re going to have to gut it out yourself and get them working in balance with the Elements you love doing. Until you do, you will be owned by your business. After you get all Seven humming, you’ll be on the path to actually owning your business and getting off the treadmill.

Get all Seven Elements of a Business working for you and you’ll be on the path back to the passion that brought you into business in the first place. Get all Seven Elements in place and get off the treadmill. You’ll make more money in less time.


From Hostage to Prisoner – the business road to more freedom

Just about every business owner I know is a hostage to his or her business. How do we break free? By first becoming a willing prisoner in your business.

It sounds nuts. How am I a hostage, and how does becoming a prisoner put me on the road to freedom?

Shrinks tell me that six months as a hostage has more lasting negative effect on someone that a number of years in prison. Why? A hostage has no idea when they will get out, the rules change every day, things that got them relief on one day get a whole different reaction the next day. It could all end badly tomorrow without notice. Everything is up in the air all the time, chaos reigns, and the lack of any knowledge about the future makes it all seem futile and endless.

Sound like your business? Most business owners are hostages to their business with rules that change daily, a reactionary way of doing business, and no end in sight.

A prisoner knows exactly how long they are in for, what the rules are and even how than can get out early for good behavior. It’s difficult for a hostage to be encouraged and have hope because the future is a big unknown. A prisoner always has hope and can be encouraged that every day is a step closer to freedom by just doing the right things.

You need to become a prisoner on the way to freedom in your business and here’s how:

He who makes the rules wins.

Most of us let our business create the rules for us and we simply react to everything coming at us. To fix this we need to believe we can start setting the rules for our business and have it start reacting to our needs.

The only way I know to do this effectively is put in place the biggest thing that differentiates a hostage from a prisoner – an end date, or what I call a Business Maturity Date. Decide what your Ideal Lifestyle looks like and when you want to be there. This is the first step to moving from hostage to prisoner to business freedom (see other posts here on picking a Business Maturity Date).

Working toward a date at which your business will begin to be mature can change everything in business for you. Without it you’ll just be a hostage for decades to come.

But what if I “fail” to get my business to maturity (the business can make money and function without me while I’m on vacation) on that date? The only failure is to not try. If you decide you don’t want to take the risk to build a mature business by a specific date, you are ensuring a 100% failure rate for ever getting there.

A man still finds his destiny on the path he chose to avoid it.

Pick a business maturity date, move from being a hostage to a prisoner, and that will ensure you will get to freedom.

Seven Words a Business Owner Can Never Afford to Use

1) Try (the uncommitted’s word)

We’re going to try to…”

Yoda – “Try not. Do, or do not. There is no try.” Intentionality is a huge key to getting where you want to go. When a business owner uses “try”, their escape route is clearly identified, and they have no intention of seeing things through, especially in the rough times. Great business owners don’t try, they do.

2) But (the victim’s word)

“This could have worked, but outside forces kept us from…”, or “But I don’t know how…”

“But” is the victomology word for business owners. It keeps us from figuring things out and pushing through to victory. Great business owners don’t use “but”. They make lemonade with every lemon they’re given.

3) Can’t (the unbeliever’s word)

We “tried”, but we *can’t*…

Vision is critical. If you don’t have clarity about where you’re going, you won’t believe you can get there. Great business owners are too busy getting where they’re going to give in to “can’t”. They’ll figure it out.

4) Settle [for] (the unmotivated’s word)

“Good enough.”

Great business owners don’t settle. What was the passion that brought you into business in the first place? Why would you allow circumstances to change your commitment to that passion?

Circumstances don’t make us who we are. Our responses do.

5) Goals (the heroic activist’s word)

I have only one set of goals – my Lifetime Goals (things I can never check off as completed). I have no goals for my business, only objectives and waypoints. My business exists to serve me in getting to my Lifetime Goals, so each month, quarter, and year I set objectives and waypoints in my business to use my business to get there. This keeps me from having false victories by beating a quarterly or annual “goal” and or false defeats by not having achieved them. They are merely milestones or waypoints along the way to my Lifetime Goals.

Great business owners don’t get hung up on intermediary milestones – they are completely focused on getting to the end game, their only set of goals, the ones they can never check off – Lifetime Goals.

Conation – the will to succeed that manifests itself in single-minded pursuit of the goal.

6) Later (the thinker’s word)

Bad plans carried out violently many times yield good results. Do something. The #1 indicator of success in early stage businesses is not how great your plan is, or how smart you are, or how much research you’ve done. The #1 indicator of success is Speed of Execution. Later never comes.

Three things changes us when we do them:

  • Make a decision
  • Put a date on it
  • Go Public

Great business owners get an idea, move on it, and figure it out as they go, and they understand the value of going public with their intentions.

7) Alone (the “Rugged Individualist’s [proud loner’s] word)

Everything we do in life, from taking a spouse to joining a bicycling club has the element of “community” in it, except for business ownership. Good luck with that one, you’re on your own.

There isn’t another place in society other than business ownership, where we have fully institutionalized the nonsense myth of the rugged individualist. A friend of mine did a study on leadership and found that the single biggest indicator of success or failure was whether the leader had people close to them who the leader gave the authority and permission to call them on their actions. John Wayne is dead. We should have buried the rugged individualist with him.

Great business owners have Outside Eyes on their business all the time.

Which of these words are you using to run your business? Here’s a way to remember them – “Try” to strike them from your vocabulary, “but” if you “can’t”, you can “settle” for only using a few and make a “goal” of getting rid of the rest “later”, when you’re “alone” and nobody’s watching.

Revenue is Not Your Friend – Pricing For Profit

The Sausage Vendor said he bought his sausages for a buck, and sells them for $.95. When challenged as to how he would make money, he said, “No problem, I’ll make it up in volume.”

Business owners focus on Revenue when they should be focused on Profit. If they focused on Profit, they would raise their prices more often.

(This is Part One – The Mind Games of Pricing. Next week we’ll do Part Two – The Mechanics of Pricing)

The old saw is wrong – “If you worrying about sales, profits will take care of themselves”.
Neither Revenue nor Sales are a good place to focus financially – we need to focus on profit (actually cash flow, but that’s another blog.)

What barriers do you encounter in communicating your pricing to potential clients?
Competition, market conditions, aging industry, complex service, fear, not understanding how to price? Probably a little of most of the above.

When we aren’t sold on our pricing, what does that communicate to the potential client? It communicates that all of the above (competition, market, fear, etc.) are all good reasons not to buy my product or service from me. The best way to create pricing problems is to not believe in our own pricing.

A caterer friend gave his “best, lowest” price to a potential client, skimmed of any “excess” profit, and the client’s response was “Is there any way you can go lower?”. When we aren’t confident in our prices, we mentally set up shop in a place that attracts bottom-feeders like the guy above. Getting a lot of pushback on your prices? It’s possible its because your prices are too low!

Joel Spolsky is the co-founder and CEO of Fog Creek Software, said “I often meet people at parties and conferences who are starting companies, and they will invariably ask me, “Say, Joel, do you have any advice for start-ups? Since I know next to nothing about these people or their businesses, or even their industries, I usually just say, “Yes! You should raise all your prices!”

And we both have a good laugh, bwa ha ha, then the founder ignores me. But my advice was most likely right. That’s because almost every start-up I have ever seen has set its prices too low.

Of the three business owner Profiles – Market Focused, Systems Focused, and Product Focused, the Market Focused entrepreneur is most likely to have good pricing, and the Product Focused craftsperson will have the worst. The problem – the overwhelming number of businesses are started by Product Focused craftspeople. (The Systems Focused manager loves accounting-driven pricing that ignores all market conditions; they also start the fewest businesses.)

What makes for the most profitable company? One that focuses on providing VALUE, not COST! Lower prices is not value, it is simply lower prices (and may communicate less value).

FIND VALUE OUTSIDE OF PRICE!

If relationships are equal, there are only two other buying questions – 1) How much does it cost? (price question), or 2) Can you do it? (value question). If you’re getting the “How uch does it cost?” question too often, you’re not focused on adding value or you’re not confident in the extra value you’re delivering. Either one will lose you clients much more than your pricing itself.

What does having slightly higher prices communicate to the customer? We are confident in how our product performs.

How do we get confidence?

  1. Understand the value to your clients. Ask them – why do you buy from me? What are you buying that you don’t think I even know I’m selling? It’s the best question you’ll ever ask them.
  2. Stop thinking about how YOU think you perform (internal/craftsmen view), start pricing based on how you benefit them (see #1 above.)
  3. Get some support – have somebody hold your feet to the fire on WHEN you will raise your prices.

Raising your prices is usually the fastest way to create new PROFIT. If you’re already covering all your costs, then every penny of higher prices falls directly to the bottom line. Want to make more money in less time? This is one of the best ways to do it.

Next week we’ll cover the actual mechanics of how to set and stick with a good price.

Why Product Focused Owners End Up on the Treadmill.

Last week we tried to give perspective to the idea that being the classic Systems Focused owners are great business builders but aren’t such great business starters. This week we want to see why Product Focused owners start the most businesses, but are the most likely to end up on the treadmill.

There are three basic business owner profiles:

  1. The Market Focused owner
  2. The Systems Focused owner
  3. The Product Focused owner

We’re all a mix of all three, but we all lean heavily on a primary profile for the way we manage and make decisions.

Business owners whose primary profile is Product Focused are passionate about the product or service they provide, but usually not about business itself. They are experts, professionals, craftspeople, and artisans; implementers, producers, doers, and finishers. They like being tactical, on the ground, getting things done, and they take great pride in the product or service they offer.

Passion for their “craft”; their chosen service or product, is what drives them to build their business. Product Focused owners have difficulty giving production over to employees (or even having employees), who, in the craftperson’s opinion, might lower the quality. And customers can get in the way because they want to modify the product or service – “I make a great chair, you ought to buy it.” (as is)

The Product Focused owner can’t see the need to waste time thinking about the future or the past. They act on what needs to be done today. They don’t expend much energy on “strategic” planning or action, which is also as a waste of time that could have gone into today’s production. This is a great asset in getting things done on a day-to-day basis, but doesn’t help set them up for future success.

Selling a Great Product by Random Hope is their default business strategy. The product or service itself is so great that customers will simply flock to my door. This product focus keeps them from taking on board good feedback from customers about how to make it more sellable – this feels like compromise to the Product Focused owner.

Their greatest assets are passion for their product/service, the ability to act quickly, creativity in developing and perfecting their product, finishing each task, and a great focus on tactical day-to-day production. Their challenges include focusing more on their product then their customer, doing too much themselves, seeing employees as lowering quality, “rugged individualism” (not getting input or working as a team), and implementing without thinking.

Most new businesses in the U.S. are started by business owners with a strong Product Focused primary profile. However, that same focus on production keeps them from improving the business or planning for the future, leading to stagnation of the business when it reaches the capacity of the Product Focused owner to produce from their own 168 hours per week.

Their biggest issue is actually ironic – They are so busy making money that they never think about building a business that will make money while they’re on vacation. Until they get tired of being the producer, they will be on the treadmill. The Product Focused owner is most likely to spend 30 years producing and end up with a business that can’t be sold because it never grew up.

If you’re a Product Focused owner, and most of us are, get serious about growing a business that will make money while you’re on vacation. Get the influence of the Market Focus in your business to keep you planning for the future, and the Systems Focus to help you build processes and systems that will help you grow a real business. Just because most small businesses are on the treadmill doesn’t mean they should be.

The only reason we don’t grow a mature business is real simple – we don’t intend to.

Be intentional – grow a business that makes money when you’re not around. You’ll enjoy life a lot more.

Why Systems Focused Owners are better business builders than business starters.

Last week we tried to give perspective to the idea that being the classic Market Focused entrepreneur isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. This week we’re looking at why Systems Focused managers are great business builders but aren’t such great business starters.

There are three basic business owner profiles:

  1. The Market Focused owner
  2. The Systems Focused owner
  3. The Product Focused owner

Every owner is a mix of all three, but we all lean heavily on a primary profile for the way we manage and make decisions.

Systems Focused owners are just that – focused on systems, process, procedures, routine. They look at business from the inside out – from the point of view of operations and delivery, not from the point of view of the market or the customer. Make a consistent product at the right margins and you’ve got a good company, so the Systemizer thinks. They’re not always passionate about the particular product or service they’re selling, but they are very passionate about operations itself.

They’re big on research and planning, usually wanting to make sure they’ve thought of everything, and as a result, are usually very risk averse and slow to make decisions. Speed of Execution is not their forte’. They make great managers, administrators, academics, scientists, and engineers. They are absolutely vital to a business growing to maturity, but it’s rarely a good idea for a Systems Focused person to be strike out on their own to start a business.

The Systems Focused person is usually very good at understanding how a business should run, so they think that translates to being good at starting a business.

Rarely.

Because Systems Focused owners are such great planners, this ironically works against them in starting a business. That great research and planning instinct also contributes to their usual great aversion to risk. These two things usually combine to make Systems Focused people very bad at starting a business.

The #1 indicator of success in the early stages of a business is not how great the planning was, how perfect the product is out of the gate, how knowledgeable we are about our market, or how much money we’ve sunk into the project. The #1 indicator of success in the earliest stages of a business is Speed of Execution, which, along with risk aversion, is the biggest challenge for a Systems Focused owner.

Systems Focused owners will miss opportunity after opportunity making sure their operations are well oiled, their marketing is perfect, and their delivery mechanism is seamless. And until they get it right, they won’t pull the trigger. Their unwillingness to move until conditions are perfect (risk aversion) will drain their startup capital and leave them miles behind their competition at every step.

The Systemizer lacks vision for the future (too busy researching the past) and urgency for today’s production. If the Systemizer recognizes their strengths, they’ll get the influence of a Market Focused person to help them keep tomorrow in focus, and the influence of a Product Focused person to help them get a sense of urgency about today – Speed of Execution. If they can do this, their likelihood of starting and growing a mature business will go up exponentially. FYI – they do much better buying a franchise (with good systems in place) or existing business, than starting a business from scratch.

Next week, we’ll talk about the third profile, the Product Focused owner; the one who starts the overwhelming majority of businesses, and has a better track record doing so than the other two. But growing a business to maturity? That’s another story.

Entrepreneurs are the worst at building a successful business

Contrary to popular opinion, Entrepreneurs are easily the worst at building successful businesses.

Entrepreneur – Wikipedia: “willing to accept a high level of personal, professional or financial risk to pursue opportunity. …in possession of an enterprise or venture.”

There are three basic business owner profiles:

  1. The Market Focused owner (the Entrepreneur falls in this category)
  2. The Systems Focused owner
  3. The Product Focused owner

Market Focused owners are just that – focused on what the market wants. They poke around and find holes in the way customers are being served and create companies to fill that need. They’re usually not passionate about any particular product or service, and sometimes know little about the one they’ve just decided to stake their future on. They’re dreamers, visionaries, spontaneous, flexible, willing to take big risks, and understand that speed of execution is vital in starting and growing a business. Entrepreneurs are Market Focused owners.

They’re also more often than not terrible business people. Too often the entrepreneur is lifted up as the holy grail of how to be successful in business, and other business owners are taught to emulate them.

It’s not a good idea.

Market Focused owners need more outside help, are the worst at taking instruction, exhibit the most over-confidence, do the worst due diligence, and fail way more often than either of the other two owner profiles. When they succeed, they succeed big, usually by sheer luck and number of attempts. But just like the gambler, you only hear about that one big win. You never hear of the many losses that, in balance, make the entrepreneur the worst risk to bet your money on. Entrepreneurs are the business world’s big gamblers.

The Wikipedia definition is good – note that it doesn’t mention someone who is a great craftperson or artisan, or highly knowledgeable at making a product or delivering a service. Entrepreneurs are quite often not experts at all at what they’re hawking. They’re great at seeing the hole in the market, but their best bet is to hire someone else to patch the hole.

The carnage they leave behind can be appalling. At their worst, the entrepreneur is a dreamer who causes people to lose their entire life savings on future possibilities and well oiled get rich quick schemes that the entrepreneur is truly convinced is a “sure thing”.

At their best, a heavily Market Focused business owner understands how handicapped they are by their affinity for risk, their unwillingness to really master their craft, their desire to spread their companies too thin and do everything the market wants. The self-aware entrepreneur sees the clutter in their mind and on their desk, and their inability to finish an idea because they already have a newer and better one.

And this awareness leads them to put aside their inherent over-confidence and get help. When they finally get the Systems Focused and Product Focused owner profiles involved and get out of the way (entrepreneurs are classic control freaks), the possibility of success goes up big time.

Michael Gerber (E-Myth) and others correctly identified that most businesses are not started by entrepreneurs. But they then proceed to lift up the entrepreneur as the model for how the other profiles should do it. Good luck with that.

The Market Focused owner may have the most serious issues in building a business, but all three profiles are broken. There’s a fourth profile they all need to become that almost no one starts with – it’s call Business Owner, which is a healthy mix of the best from all three of the other profiles. But more on that at another time.

The purpose of this rant? To free up the overwhelming number of people who own businesses who think the holy grail is to emulate the entrepreneur. Trust me, it’s not something to be pursued. You’ll want to add some of their great strengths, but don’t drink the kool-aid and dive in wholesale in becoming one. It’s just not good for the economy (or for your pocket book, your spouse, your kids, your health…).

FYI – the next two weeks I won’t need to be nearly so hard on the other two profiles (Systems Focused and Product Focused) because they’re rarely so over-confident as the Market Focused owner. Fortunately very few business owners are actually Market Focused entrepreneurs. Be thankful if you’re not one of them, and if you are, get help focusing on Systems and Production so you can become a true Business Owner.