You founded your business – but you’re not necessarily its ideal CEO

 In Thought Leadership

An architect stumbles upon a derelict old building. It has clearly not been touched for years and serves no purpose. It’s a mess. But the architect doesn’t see that. She sees the hills beyond. The huge skies. The numerous shades of green that fill the landscape.

So she puts in an offer and buys the site. She draws-up plans and receives planning consent.

But when the building starts, she isn’t the one digging the foundations, lugging the bricks or managing the team on site. She outsources all that to people who are better suited to it. She visits the site, checks what she needs to check, and ensures her vision remains alive. But while the contractors do their stuff, she focuses on her next vision and her next job.

That all sounds natural enough. Someone who has an area of expertise taking their own project on a journey until they reach the point where they are no longer best to lead it day-to-day. 

But for so many founders, that moment never comes. We have a big idea. We start to make it work, alone at first and then with others. We build a team, a brand and, hopefully a profit. Be it a product or a service, our idea slowly becomes a living, breathing business.

So far so good. Most ideas don’t get this far. Neither do most businesses. This is a success. And you are its founder, its owner, its star performer and its beating heart.

And then, slowly but surely, you become subsumed. At first it’s a joy, after all, it’s YOUR Business that’s making you so busy. YOU’VE made this happen!

Gradually that changes. You used to love being a product expert. Doing what the business sells in the market. But time spent on your passion has been trumped by logistics from the accountant and the lawyer to appraisals, accounts, investment and risk. So much of the working week is taken-up with trouble-shooting that you have started to push the stuff you’re really good at to evenings and weekends. So that’s the end of family time.

In short, you have become your business’ CEO. Which suits some. But you are also its lead technician and its inspirational entrepreneur.

The E Myth – Which one are you?

I recently read ‘The E Myth’, a terrific book by Richard Gerber. It analyzes the psychology behind this myriad of responsibilities, and he talks about three core areas that we’re all comprised of: the Entrepreneur, the Manager, and the Technician.

The Entrepreneur is prepared to take risks to build a new business. They have a sense of the possible, and the energy to realize it. They are “the innovator, the grand strategist, the creator of new methods for penetrating or creating new markets.”

The Manager is pragmatic, organized, and craves order. They are skilled at problem solving and generally keep the business in check. “It is the tension between The Entrepreneur’s vision and The Manager’s pragmatism that creates the synthesis from which all great works are born.”

The Technician is brilliant at what the business sells. They are the doers. Most founders start a business because they feel they are good enough to supply that skill to the market without allowing their current employer to take a huge margin. They aren’t focused on the big picture, but the task at hand.


Most businesses are not founded by entrepreneurs seeking profit, but by technicians who decide to work for themselves. But technicians are not entrepreneurs and so don’t possess the necessary skills to grow the business, even if you’re a technician with entrepreneurial tendencies. This isn’t to say that one is better than the other, but that each of the three personalities serves a particular purpose in business.

These are three complimentary, but very different skill sets. Typically, a founder fills all three. And that’s where the log jam begins. If that rings a bell, you’re not alone, because it is where so many businesses start to struggle and lose momentum.

The answer for you, the founder, is to become acutely aware of yourself, your energy levels and ultimately make some tough calls regarding your next steps in the company. Then you need to ask yourself where your real ”Zone of Genius” lies (more on this below).

For example, if someone else built your business and hired you to drive forward a part of it, what role would they choose for you?

Your zone of genius

Gay Hendricks explains this brilliantly in ‘The Big Leap’ and he describes how important it is to align your role to your “Zone of Genius”. If you are (or anyone in your company for that matter)  misaligned, it won’t just harm your business, you’ll all be less energized too.

Finding the right answer isn’t easy, and it isn’t always easy to know yourself, your own skills, and your “Zone of Genius”. There’s no magic pill. It takes months, if not years, of development, but you have to start somewhere! As Warren Miller once said, “if you don’t do it this year, you’ll be one year older when you do”. Taking action will mean you’ll be able to think more clearly and really focus on how you can best be of service to your company. You’ll be able to shoot for the moon and not just the sky.

So what are you waiting for? Below are some great suggestions for next steps that have not only helped develop myself and my role at Simple Startup, but also many other business owners we work with. 

Lorne Suggests:

  • Read ‘The E Myth’ by Richard Gerber and determine whether in your core you are a: Technician, Manager or an Entrepreneur.
  • Read ‘The Big Leap’ by Gay Hendricks and understand your “Zone of Genius”
  • Find and hire a business coach to help you unpack and navigate these important decisions. 
  • Take care of yourself and understand that being a founder for your business, rather than its CEO, represents positive progress. It can be tricky to transition into a new role in your business, but it’ll be something you are glad you did in the long-term.
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