A well-known saying states that “an entrepreneur could be a manager but a manager cannot be an entrepreneur”. There are two sides to this truthful insight.
Entrepreneurs are indeed free to get involved in the management and the day-to-day operations of their businesses as much as they consider appropriate. After all, it’s their party. Managers are less likely to start behaving like an entrepreneur for the simple reason that they are brought on board to do something else in the first place. Plus, they don’t usually own the business.
On the other hand, it’s worth emphasizing that, just because entrepreneurs can behave like managers, it does not mean that it would be beneficial for their business if they did so! In fact, as a rule of thumb, the more developed the company, the more problematic it is to have entrepreneurs stepping on their managers’ toes.
If you are an entrepreneur and you answer “yes” to most of the questions below, there is a strong possibility that you overburden your diary with activities that you could and should delegate to your managers.
1. Your passion for your company is constantly proven by your unstoppable zeal to cultivate your business on a daily basis
2. You are more interested in improving the management and finding ways to avoid or minimize risks than in creating opportunities, activating change and accepting the associated risks
3. Your main objective is to supervise and create routines, to implement plans and ideas
4. You rarely focus on the objective to innovate, create and act as a change agent within your business
5. You focus on the effective and efficient operation of your on-going business and less on making the business sustainable in the long term and thinking through ways to reinvent it
6. You tend to avoid mistakes at any cost and to postpone failure rather than deal with faults and failures as a valuable learning experience
7. You are used to controlling all aspects of a situation and have a natural tendency to look over everybody’s shoulders until the job is done
8. You feel it is not enough for you to know a little about everything and to learn everything by trial and error (so many entrepreneurs are school-dropout billionaires!)
9. You believe in the incremental improvement of your company and you don’t see opportunities for breakthrough innovation and radical transformation for your company
10. You are deeply involved in measuring these incremental improvements quarterly and annually along the pre-established competitive performance parameters
There is a simple way to double-check whether you act as a true entrepreneur or if you would rather play a managerial role. Review your agenda for the past week. See how many of the activities you planned are about working in the business and how many are about working on the business. This simple exercise can help you better understand what is and what should be on your agenda.