Michael Gerber, in The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work and What to Do About It (buy it here), struck gold when he suggests that the first thing a business owner needs to do is figure out what about his or her business they most enjoy doing. Gerber offers three roles to choose from – entrepreneur, manager, or technician. Do you know which are you? You can work against type if you have to or choose to, but you can’t sustain it. You will expend much more energy than necessary and you will accomplish less. Gerber suggests that spending the majority of your time in the wrong role is one of the primary reasons for small business failures.

The entrepreneur role is that portion of your make-up which had the dream of starting a business. The manager role is the part of you that enjoys managing the daily operations of the business. The technician role is that part of you that enjoys doing the work. If you honestly think about what you do each day, you probably know which role you gravitate towards. It’s not a stretch to hypothesize that micro-managers are technicians at heart.

These roles are rarely in perfect balance. In fact, as Dan Sullivan suggests, we each of us have a natural and unique ability. It is worth figuring out which of these roles most perfectly describes you. One simple thing we suggest to the leadership teams we work with is to draw a large rectangle on a blank sheet of paper and then divide the rectangle into four equal sized quadrants. Label these quadrants as follows: tasks I love to do and am great at doing (upper left), tasks I like to do and am good at doing (upper right), tasks I don’t like doing and am good at doing (lower left), and tasks I hate doing and am not good at doing (lower right). By placing all the tasks you are responsible for, or find yourself doing anyway, in the appropriate quadrant, it should become fairly obvious which are your skills and preferences.

It is then incumbent on you, for your health and the health of your company, to devise a plan which, over time, elevates you to those tasks in the upper two rectangles and delegates to others the tasks in the lower two rectangles. Of course, ideally you are delegating tasks to people for whom those tasks are in their upper two rectangles. Makes sense doesn’t it? The sooner you implement this plan the sooner you and the company will be more successful.

In EOS terminology we label the entrepreneur as the Visionary – the person who imagined the business and continues to imagine its future, the idea person. The Integrator is the EOS term we use for the highest level management role, the person who enjoys prioritizing, conflict resolution and project management for the whole company. Technicians are simply individual contributor functional roles, specialists whose talents have been honed in functional areas like sales, finance or operations. Of course there are hybrids like the managers of functional areas.

Graphic image: EOS Worldwide