I’ve been in my own ‘high-season’ for the last few months – my busiest time of year is March-June in the run-up to the traditional summer season. I’m focused on getting work done, on doing a great job and on delivering exceptional value every day. I’m busy all day every day making sure I meet my commitments. Then, for the summer, my clients are generally too busy to deal with me and so, funnily enough, July and August are my quietest times. That’s when I focus most on developing the business and making plans for the year ahead.
This work pattern has made me think again about Michael Gerber and his renowned book ‘The E-myth Revisited’. Gerber’s book examines the reasons why small businesses fail and how this failure can be prevented. A useful tool that Gerber explores is the existence of 3 personality-types in every new business owner – the Entrepreneur, the Manager and the Technician. Each personality is important, each plays a fundamental role in setting up a business. I’m been wondering how his thoughts might apply particularly to the seasonal nature of tourism businesses.
Let’s ave a look at these three personality types.
Let’s start with the Entrepreneur. This is the one that saw the business opportunity and the potential and ran with it. It’s the visionary, the dreamer, the creative innovator and strategist. It’s the one who sees nothing but opportunities and who is very future-oriented, always figuring out what a better future would look like, what a different future would mean for the business.
Then there’s the Manager. This is the pragmatic one, the planner, the one who craves order and puts in place systems and procedures to create that order. The Manager is past-oriented, seeking to maintain the status-quo and on the lookout for problems and challenges, always seeking to prevent them and reduce risk.
Thirdly, there’s the Technician. The Technician is the do-er, the individualist, the one who doesn’t spend too much time thinking about the future or the past, but sits solidly in the present, getting whatever needs to be done done.
The three personality types are very different, each with an important role to play, each essential to the success of the business. In an ideal world, they would be in harmony and would have equal influence on the running and development of the business. However, there’s also great scope for conflict between the three as each one tries to dominate and take control. One part craves order while the other is dreaming about the future. At the same time, the third part sees all that thinking about order and the future as a waste of time while so many things need to be done right now!!
Gerber’s Myth, as per the title of the book, is that The Entrepreneur is in charge. His research has shown however that it’s actually The Technician who’s in charge, that it was The Technician who had an entrepreneurial idea that then got developed. However, The Technician remained The Technician and once the business was established, got busy once again doing the technical work. Only this time, the managerial and entrepreneurial work also required attention. What Gerber found is that the amount of time a small business owner (meaning less than 100 employees) spends in each personality role is like this:
On average, only 10% of our time is future-oriented while a staggering 70% is devoted to doing what needs to be done right now!! This is the equivalent of baking bread all day long just to eat it all for supper tonight and then get busy doing the same thing again tomorrow and the day after and the day after. That’s really what happens. The Technician is in control and The Technician works themselves into the ground, doing all day long and getting up the next day to do it all over again. Eventually The Technician burns out, resenting the work they originally loved so much as to set up a business. Sounds very much like the intense tourism season, doesn’t it?
So what can you do about it? The obvious answer is to ensure you achieve more balance between your personalities. It may not be possible to achieve perfect balance during high season. High Season probably is in fact The Technician’s time to shine. However, over the course of the business year, balance can be achieved.
It’s wise to nurture The Entrepreneur, the one most likely to be neglected in the busy-ness of day-to-day operations. In fact, it’s essential to nurture The Entrepreneur at every stage of the business process.
It’s The Entrepreneur who is able to envision the business as something different to the owner. It’s The Entrepreneur who challenges the way you do things and challenges your imagination to think of better things. It’s the Entrepreneur who knows what you want deep inside (e.g. less hours, not being tied to the business, less seasonality) and wonders how you can get it. The Entrepreneur wonders ‘How would this change how I experience my business? How would this change how my visitor experiences my business?’ This personality needs to be deployed at every stage of the business development process, not just at the outset. The Entrepreneur has a clear vision of what your business is like when it’s fully finished and this future orientation is essential to identify opportunities and challenges and to continuously shape and re-shape the business accordingly.
So here are a few practical things you can do to nurture your Inner Entrepreneur:
Look after your Inner Entrepreneur this season. Give your Inner Entrepreneur the first 15 minutes of your day even when you’re at your busiest – let your Inner Entrepreneur take control, plan your day and imagine what it’s like to be better