Are you an Innovator, an Entrepreneur, or a Manager?

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    Not everyone who starts a small business is an entrepreneur, nor should they be. Figuring out whether you’re an innovator, an entrepreneur or a manager can save you headaches down the road.

    Innovators are dreamers. They imagine what could be, often in creative and brilliant ways. They can be very charismatic. But they get bored easily, and dive into new ideas and new visions easily and often, which can drive those around them stir crazy. They are not very good at building things (other than prototypes), and are not all that interested in financial viability. For innovators, the idea is everything.

    Entrepreneurs are implementers. They boldly convert ideas into reality, overcoming any obstacle that gets in their way. They build ideas and prototypes into successful businesses. Even in bad times, they are not interested in maintaining the status quo. They want change, they want growth, they want risk-taking. They may be a bit vague about how they define success, but they won’t stop until they get it. Then they get bored. For entrepreneurs, success is everything.

    Managers are trustees. They protect and maintain things, making sure the company’s sales, assets, and employees are not at risk. They create systems, policies and infrastructure to keep everything functioning smoothly and efficiently. They are not risk takers. Entrepreneurs leave when the managers take over. For managers, sustainability is everything.

    What kind of a leader are you? That’s a good question, but also ask what your company needs, when. In times of rapid change, innovators and entrepreneurs are essential. When conditions are more stable, or when they need to become more stable after the innovators and entrepreneurs have done their thing, managers often take over.

    One of the worse things for a business is to have the wrong kind of person at the helm. Innovators and entrepreneurs who stay too long can ultimately doom an otherwise sustainable business. Managers who replace the entrepreneurs too soon can lead to the same untimely demise.

    So put into your business plan what kind of a leader you are, and how the company should be structured (and change over time) to reflect your strengths and weaknesses.

    Special thanks to Jerr Boschee and Jim McClurg for their work in this area.

    Good luck!

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    For more resources, see our Library topic Business Planning.