A Ratio for Success as a Business Owner


A Technician, an Entrepreneur, and a Manager Started Three Restaurants … Who Made It Work? 

Once upon a time, three very different people decided to start three very different restaurants.

Mr. Burger was a culinary genius. He had worked in a number of restaurants and would come home each night to experiment with new ideas and recipes.  Eventually he stumbled on something extraordinary. The banana burger. Packed with potassium and goodness, it tasted like heaven. He decided this was the time to make his fortune. He would start his own restaurant. His banana burger would attract customers forever more.

Ms. Spreadsheet spent her school lunchtimes working out how the timetable could be improved to give pupils a better learning experience whileBurger Restaurant Entrepreneur and Manager allowing the teachers more time off. She gave her recommendations to the principal who implemented them the very next semester. At college she helped reorganize the library, allowing students to borrow more books if they brought them back within 48 hours. But her passion was for food. So, she decided to combine business with pleasure by buying a restaurant. She just knew that she could organize a team to serve hot food in the most effective way to patrons. She would implement her own booking system via an app to minimize waiting times and empty table space.

Mrs. Vision had long woken up in the middle of the night brimming with ideas. She wanted to build things. Properties, businesses and a portfolio of investments. She was restless and ambitious. She had no interest in the process, just in possibility.  And she sensed that a fast food chain delivering healthy, attractive burgers could take off exponentially. 

So they each kick-started their restaurants by doing what they did best.

Mr. Burger soon developed a reputation for exquisite burgers.

Ms. Spreadsheet had an app that synched perfectly with her layout and staffing.

Mrs. Vision had meetings with a bunch of investment firms to pitch the future of fast food and launched an online campaign to raise awareness.

Sadly, all three of them have, thus far, failed to fulfill their potential.

Mr. Burger couldn’t cope with the demand for his banana burger. The queues were long, the customers annoyed and the logistics were nightmarish. He needed support from Ms. Spreadsheet.

Ms. Spreadsheet had wonderful processes and her chef was incredibly productive.  But her restaurant lacked magic. She needed a vision and a great burger.

Mrs. Vision was so focused on the next opening and the next round of funding that she failed to leave a sustainable infrastructure behind.  

You get the point!

All three are leaders.

All three have brilliant skills.

And all three were quite right to start their own business.

Three Ingredients for a Successful Business

But what all three proved is that no business can fulfill its potential without three ingredients (none of which is a banana burger!):

  1.  A technician. Someone who is brilliant at doing what the business does. Who can set a benchmark for excellence and ensure that the product or service that they provide is worth building around.
  2.  An entrepreneur. Someone who doesn’t care how, but needs stuff done so they can move on. They love a deal and can realize a dream through imagination, vision and drive.
  3.  A manager. Someone who wants to get to the very heart of the problem. Who wants to make things work perfectly. For whom the process, people and performance are the focus rather than the underlying product or service.

I have seen businesses fail because the technician (who should have been the star player) decided to focus on management. And because the entrepreneur became diverted by providing the technical service. And because the manager didn’t engage someone more entrepreneurial to take them forward. The permutations are endless.

A technician and a manager can make a small business function brilliantly.

But real growth – which is the dream of many owner managers – requires an entrepreneur.

As owner managers we have to understand where we fit, what we lack, and where we need to recruit help. Even if that means letting someone else lead the way.

Lorne Asks:

  1. Can you define your own ratio of entrepreneur : technician : manager? 
  2. Once you’ve clarified your leadership strengths, are you now in a better position to know what you and your business need to take the next step forward?

About Lorne Noble

Lorne loves finance so you don’t have to (seriously, he plays with Excel sheets on vacation)! He spent 12 years in corporate London as an investment analyst then made the jump to Boulder, Colorado to act as finance mentor to high impact companies at The Unreasonable Institute, Girl Effect Accelerator and Singularity University. He has an MBA from IE business school in Madrid, Spain.

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