Professional managers can repeat the same task over and over, but most successful entrepreneurs can’t handle boredom. The difference in these two familiar types runs so deeply that, if you’re a manager, it’s unlikely you’ll succeed in the role of entrepreneur, just as entrepreneurs tend not to make very good managers. There’s a place in the world for each. The message here is to entrepreneurs.
McKinsey & Company did a study of the members of the American Business Conference, which grew 20 percent per year over the five-year period prior to the publication of the report. There is one common thread running through these operations: The people who run them tend to be entrepreneurs who just can’t stand corporate bureaucracy, organization charts, and manuals for operating procedures.
Entrepreneurs share a common trait with good salespeople: Both are able to communicate a sense of self-confidence and importance about their mission that is contagious to all around them. Entrepreneurs scratch before they itch. They dare to fix things before they break because it is part of their makeup to seek out fresh challenged.
They determine the agenda; they set the pace; they dominate the field of play. Pit an entrepreneur against a manager, and the entrepreneur is constantly forcing the manager to abandon his own plans and react to the entrepreneur’s initiative.
If you’re an entrepreneur, you know it. And if you are, your competitors have a reason to dread it when you feel the onset of restlessness. It means you’re ready to make another move. Don’t fight it–it’s the entrepreneur’s greatest strength. At the same time, recognize your greatest weakness: an eye for detail, which all too often translates into an inability to manage the financial end of the business.
If you’re an entrepreneur, be frank enough about your own limitations to get yourself a George Wilson to handle the day-to-day operations. Thirty-five years ago, when Wilson was stewing over whether to take on the commitment of moving the Billy graham offices to a newer building, he called Graham and asked his advice. “I don’t call and ask you what I should preach,” said Billy. “Don’t call me about what you should do with buildings.”
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