Is your venture a business or a startup?
Are you a manager or an entrepreneur?

Think it’s all semantics? It might be. But it also might be the source of a lot of tension in your day-to-day operations.

Quick Quiz

  1. Do you make time for creating & investigating new ideas? Yes or No
  2. Would you prefer to spend most of your business time working for your clients/customers? Yes or No
  3. Does evolving & changing your business excite & energize you? Yes or No
  4. Do you prefer getting it right & sticking with it? Yes or No

If you answered “yes” to questions 1 & 3, you’re the entrepreneur-type. If you answered “yes” to question 2 & 4, you’re the manager-type.

Entrepreneurs & Startups

A startup is a human institution designed to deliver a new product or service under conditions of extreme uncertainty.
Eric Ries, author of The Lean Startup

Entrepreneurs thrive in environments of uncertainty. Change is a constant – and welcome – companion for these business adventurers. They are on a quest to discover and rediscover a product that creates value, innovation that disrupts a market, and a business that “works.”

Entrepreneurs create & run startups. Startups are businesses driven by the hunt for an unknown prey. Startups must be built for agility. One or 10 wrong moves won’t kill a startup but moving too slowly will. A startup is focused on implementing then learning and then implementing and learning again.

If you’re an entrepreneur running a startup, you probably thrive on short-term projects, experimentation, and learning new techniques.

To do: Make time in your schedule every week for thinking on, designing for, and playing at something new. Don’t succumb to guilt because you’re not spending time hustling for new clients or working on the things that pay the bills. Yes, that’s important but, if you don’t indulge your creative/innovative side, you’ll lose interest in your venture.

Also, be prepared to bring others onto your team quickly, you’ll need support in administration & management to grow the business beyond its initial stages.

Watch out for: Boredom. Recognize that many businesses aren’t meant to remain startups forever. It’s possible for you to get to a point where your desire to create & innovate in your current venture withers away. If you sense this is a possibility, be sure to be building your business so that you can step away from it, either by putting management in place or by selling it.

Also, be mindful of shiny things. Shiny things are projects or ideas that take you away from your true purpose. Novelty is important to you and should be considered carefully but not at the expense of the learning cycle you’re in.

Managers & Businesses

…you switch from riding the rocket to playing the long patient game. You’ve reached a level of business expertise and positioning such that the only way you’re going to get better is to focus on the long game of expertise and market share.
— Charlie Gilkey, Productive Flourishing

Charlie’s series on the stages of business is helpful for both manager-types & entrepreneur-types but especially so for managers.

Managers are focused on greatness. They prefer getting things right the first time and then slowly optimizing from there. They bank on the long tail. They thrive in long-term relationships with customers & clients. Their businesses are powerhouses of word-of-mouth sales. They learn and then implement.

Managers run & maintain businesses. A business is an enterprise with a proven model. It runs like a top. As long as it’s spinning, it’s generating profit.

If you’re a manager, you probably live for doing the work you created your business to do in systems that help you do that work better.

To do: Indulge two of your strengths and create a system for gathering referrals. Incorporate it into your client emails or create marketing geared at existing customers. Make sure your team knows referrals are a priority for you.

Also, reach out to 3rd party perspectives on a regular basis. A business coach, copywriter, or PR specialist might help you see opportunities that would have otherwise been missed.

Watch out for: Getting comfortable. It’s easy to get comfortable cruising along when you’re a seasoned manager and your business is working. But surprises do come. Make a habit of considering different scenarios (both positive & negative) to train or brain to embrace the unknown.

Also, look for opportunities to leverage your (or your team’s) time. When you love the work that you do and create a business for that express purpose, it’s very easy to get comfortable doing that work on a pay-for-play basis. You get paid when you work. It’s difficult to create freedom in a business like this so make time to work out ways to leverage what you do to generate profit.

What does it all mean?

Ventures that succeed over the long haul need both types of people — or more specifically both skill sets. This isn’t a judgement call; there is no better or worse. Understanding what energizes & strengthens you helps you understand how you can serve your own business best.

To begin, grow, or change direction, you’ll need to call on your entrepreneurial skill set. If this is where you thrive, you’re pretty well set. If this is what causes you some pain, get help. To maintain a low-stress business, you’ll need to call on your managerial skill set. If this is where you thrive, again, you’re pretty well set. If this is what causes you some pain, get help.

Running a business is not a solo act. Whether you’re a solo entrepreneur or the focal point of a team, it’s important to realize that there are multiple roles required for keeping your business running smoothly. Neglect a role and you’ll suffer for it.

So tell me – what are you: an entrepreneur or a manager? Answer in the comments and/or click here to tweet it!