In “The E-Myth Revisited” Michael Gerber writes about three common stages many small business owners either transition through or get stuck in. He uses the terms Entrepreneur, Technician, and Manager. The Entrepreneur starts the business, the Technician wears all the hats and does his best to keep the customers happy and the Manager organizes everything and tells everyone what to do (hopefully close to the same level as the Technician can do it). If the Entrepreneur gets stuck in the Technician stage he will most likely burn himself out and damage his family relationships in the process. If the Entrepreneur gets stuck in the Manager phase he will have a lot of employees who can’t make any decisions on their own because the Manager is controlling everything. He’s probably not liked very much by his staff.
Many owners are the Chief Technician in their business because nobody else is as skilled as they are at what they do, nobody else can do it as well. Others are the Chief Manager, micro-managing everyone and everything, often in a way that alienates the employees. Neither of these are effective leaders.
The C12 Group recently spent our business segment time looking at this topic, focusing on the difference between leaders and managers. Here’s a table from that segment that describes elements of the different roles:
Gerber’s book focuses on creating systems so the owner can move beyond these three phases and be the Chief Executive Officer, a leadership role. The advice he gives is solid and has been followed by many successful business owners. The challenge for many is that it’s not easy to do what Gerber describes on your own, especially if you’ve never done it before.
A business owner who recognizes that he is stuck in the Chief Technician or Chief Manager phase could read Gerber’s book and other good business books and work on implementing their suggestions. He could hire a consultant or consulting firm to help him transform his business. Or, he could join an executive peer group like the C12 Group.
The C12 Group is going to provide the time tested business content he would find in reading the best business books on the market, but in a summarized, targeted fashion. The C12 Group is going to provide the wisdom of experience from others who have successfully made the transition to Chief Executive Officer. The C12 Group is going to provide education, counsel, goals, plans and accountability so the owner doesn’t have to figure it out on his own or pay a lot of money to someone who may or may not be able to help. In addition, the C12 Group is going to help the business owner develop all areas of his life outside of his business.
As a business owner, I found myself in these phases at various times in the life of the business. I bought an existing technology business where I was on the management team. Early on I probably occupied the Chief Technician and the Chief Manager roles at the same time. Fortunately, I became involved in two different executive peer groups to help me move out of those roles over time and be the leader of the business I was supposed to be. Unfortunately, the C12 Group wasn’t an option for me at the time. I would have been a much better leader if it had been, due to the better content and the 360° emphasis of group membership as well as the prayer support of the members.
The members of my groups in Wisconsin are at various points in these phases, some just becoming aware of them and where they are, others recognizing where they are and working on their leadership transitions and others are solid leaders of their organizations, continually improving themselves and those around them. If you own a business and especially if you are a business owner who is a dedicated follower of Jesus Christ, which level of owner are you? Are you happy at that level? If not, investigate a C12 Group in your geography. Qualified guests can visit a group meeting without cost or obligation.