Transition from Technician to Leader

How many of us in business start off as the Technician – the doer, craftsman, producer, operator… – and find the challenges of making the transition to Entrepreneur and Leader a massive shock?

Part of the attraction of becoming a business owner is the potential for increased income, the creation of a lasting legacy and the ability to take control of our work-life balance – maybe even take more holidays! While many people choose to work solo, many others arrive at a place where they no longer want to be the sole technician and they want to step out of running everything every day. The question is… how can you do that and continue to earn a living?  Here’s a clue!

“I would rather earn 1% off a 100 people’s efforts than 100% of my own efforts.”
- John D. Rockefeller

Various research has shown that there are a significant number of people who want to start their own businesses, including many self-employed individuals.  According to one survey (carried out by Synovate for the E-Myth Corporation in the US) these people said that the biggest challenges they face in starting a business are lack of knowledge and confidence (44%), raising finance (44%), and the economic and competitive climates (39%). These challenges are equally true for the sole trader aspiring to become a fully-fledged business owner.

There are many pitfalls when starting any business – here are 5 key mistakes that must be avoided when starting up your own business:

• Using your heart, not your head
• Underestimating cash needs
• Not researching the market
• Limiting your business education and knowledge
• Treating the business like a job

In addition, the prospective business owner must be ready and willing to make the transition from being a sole operator and “jack of all trades” to becoming a leader, a manager, and a mentor of other people. As a business owner you are the leader of a team, regardless of whether your team is comprised of two or two hundred.

The #1 Secret of being an Effective Business Owner

“It is through leadership that the entrepreneur converts his vision into reality.”
- Michael Gerber

One of the questions we might ask a coaching client in this situation is: “Are you the leader or merely the most senior employee?”  In other words, are you truly learning and striving to become a leader in your business venture?  Or have you simply created a new job for yourself?  We believe that effective business leadership is a combination of three elements:

Vision… is a picture of your entrepreneurial and personal dream and what you want your business to become at some point in the future.  You need a crystal clear vision that you’re able to communicate with passion and a strong sense of commitment.  Everyone in your business must understand it and be inspired by it.  It must become their vision as well as yours.

Action… is what you choose to do or not do, and the way you do it.  Your actions set the standards for everyone involved in your business.  Taking action means doing, and frequently that is where the business owner is most comfortable.  However, the ability to recognise better action – or what we might call “Right Action” – is what you must develop.  Right Action creates an environment that promotes the best performance throughout the company.

Spirit… is the way you do things and the energy and focus that you put into all that you do.  It’s your positive outlook, or the respect and concern with which you treat people.  Spirit is what animates and inspires you.  It’s what other people feel when they’re around you.  This is an important aspect of your leadership – it is what motivates most people.

“The task of the leader is to get his people from where they are to where they have not been”
- Henry Kissinger

As the leader of your business, one of your primary responsibilities is to be clear about where you are going and why.  Therefore, you need to begin by creating a totally clear vision for your business.  This written document describes your “entrepreneurial dream.”  Documenting your vision in a clearly written statement allows you to share it with your team, giving you a powerful tool to communicate, inspire, and focus the energy of the business.

It’s an important first step – have you clearly defined your vision of your future yet?  What’s stopping you?

How Hard Can It Be?

The mechanics of starting a business are relatively straightforward and easily learned. There are multitudes of resources available to entrepreneurs looking to create a start-up business or transition from freelancer to business owner. But the fact remains that, according to the Small Business Administration, two-thirds of new businesses will only survive for two years while only 44 percent will make it four years. And that survival rate drops to just 31 percent of businesses that reach seven years. So, can these odds be beat?

Yes, they can! …and tens of thousands of businesses owners have proven this out year after year. The biggest mistake the freelancer must avoid is becoming a business owner in name only while operating like a freelancer with a title of “Business Owner.” The transition is one of the mind as well as the title. Armed with a clear vision, a well-written plan, and the mindset of a leader, any freelancer can successfully make the transition to business owner.