The 3 mindsets all entrepreneurs need to operate a successful business

+ Nate Chai demonstrates the three essential mindsets that all entrepreneurs need to master in order to run a successful business

After reading Micheal Gerber’s The E Myth revisited (review here) I felt invigorated with hope, and fatigue. Gerber’s book is so jam packed with information it’s tiring trying to digest it all.

With that said, one the aspects of Gerber’s book is the titular “E Myth”, or that an entrepreneurial mindset is all anyone needs to succeed. In fact, the truth is that you’ll need to balance yourself between three completely different, conflicting, mindsets (or hire two other people who you’ll argue with a lot) in order to achieve your businesses maximum potential.

Mindset 1: The Technician

technician, wealth, the e myth
The person that does all the expert work, and is incapable of communicating with anyone. Image Credit: Wikipedia

Most businesses start with a technician, someone who excels at their job and decides that they know enough about their industry, and have enough technical skill to start their own company. Despite them being excellent at their job, they are not yet able to run an effective business.

Technician’s start their own ventures because all they want to do is create incredible products and ignore the rest. So they start businesses so that they can be the boss and focus on what they think really matters – the product.

The Technician’s Strengths and Weaknesses

The Technician’s strengths:

  • Sheet bloody-mindedness: Technicians focus on the work that has to be done and no matter the setback, no matter how many hours are needed, the Technician will not give up until they achieve what they wanted to create
  • Singular focus: Technicians can drown out the rest of a business’s noise and shoot straight for their goal, ignoring any outside influences
  • Pragmatic: For a Technician, the question isn’t “What could we be doing?”, the question is “What needs to be done?” Instead of dreaming, the Technician is hands-on bringing an idea to fruition

The Technician’s weaknesses:

  • Acts like an employee: When you own a business you are the leader, the decision maker, and you enforce the dream. Technicians can get stuck in the quagmire of everyday tasks, instead of thinking about a business’s overall strategy and future
  • Communication: With that powerful singular focus Technicians often see their employees as distractions from their “true” work. They don’t communicate their businesses goals, day-to-day outcomes, or how they expect a job to be done
  • Imagination: For a business to remain competitive and successful innovation is key. However, many Technicians are so focused on the “now” that they strive to do “now” excellently, rather than looking toward the future and asking “What’s happening next?”

Mindset 2: The Manager

Managers, rock band, the emyth
Pictured: You’re prejudice against managers. Image Credit: xkcd

The Manager is often the least developed of a business owner’s three mindsets. The Manager mindset arises when the business owner sees that things are not running as smoothly as they would like. The Manager is everyone’s enemy, they stop the Technician’s focus with interruptions, and they put limitations of the Entrepreneur’s dreams.

The Manager’s key role is creating a business that can consistently create the Entrepreneur’s vision  and seeks to avoid any problems that the business could run into. This is done by creating systems that must be enforced in order to keep the business slick.

The Manager’s Strengths and Weaknesses

The Manager’s strengths:

  • Predictable: The Manager is steadfast, they are predictable because they follow the letter of the law. A Manager will never act in a way that would confuse or surprise a business’s team
  • Ordered: Compared to the constant flow of new ideas from the Entrepreneur, and the Technician’s dedication to completing a task no matter what, the Manager has everything in its place and a place for everything. By keeping something where everyone knows it is the Manager develops a strict workflow process
  • Realistic: Say the Entrepreneur just read about a drastic new app that will “revolutionise” productivity, the Manager looks at this and thinks “How on earth are we going to implement this?” The Manager sees faults in ideas and prevents unnecessary disruption to a businesses work processes

The Manager’s weaknesses:

  • “My way or the highway”: When something is out of place the Manager is not happy. This can stifle innovation in a business, or result in unwarranted tension in the workplace. The Manager argues over the small stuff because this mindset can forget the larger goal
  • Overly negative: Businesses and not a set thing, they need to evolve in order to be competitive. However, the Manager likes to play it safe and may shoot down too many of the proposed innovations. Because, as the Manager knows, any changes will require an overhaul of the set business practices. Unfortunately, this attitude will result in the stagnation of an enterprise
  • Uncreative: Through their dedication to processes, the Manager finds it difficult to think about new ways to solve problems or how an issue can be solved in an alternative way. This can lead to a disconnect between what the business needs, what it can do, and how it should be done

Mindset 3: The Entrepreneur

God, Monty Python, wealth
Many are surprised when they meet an Entrepreneur and they don’t look like this.

The Entrepreneur is the mythological idea of what small businesses “should” be run by. The great man or woman at the forefront battling government regulations and providing jobs that supply people with the money they need.

Particularly in the age of start-ups, we have this idea of a brilliant mind with a brilliant idea who make billions when their company goes public (or are bought). However, Gerber’s point is that successful businesses aren’t made by pure Entrepreneurs and they have as many weaknesses as the other two mindsets.

The Entrepreneur’s Strengths and Weaknesses

The Entrepreneur’s strengths:

  • Creative: To use a cliché, an Entrepreneur can think outside the box. In order to make a successful business, you need an edge, which is often provided by innovative business processes OR a product that is unique
  • Inspiration: The Entrepreneur’s vision is bold, exciting, and a little crazy. This is what people are drawn to, a different way of doing something, doing something new, something that’s challenging. An Entrepreneur inspires people to do the best they can
  • The big picture: Seeing the big picture, and then showing it to a team is part of the Entrepreneur’s skillset. Through setting goals, thinking up strategies, and helping people believe in their dreams, Entrepreneur’s have great ideas about what a business could be

The Entrepreneur’s weakness:

  • Focus: With the Entrepreneur’s ideas coming thick and fast they can often lose focus. By chasing the next big thing, Entrepreneur’s lose sight of their goal, or it changes, or it pivots, or something else happens. This creates a chaotic atmosphere and causes huge problems for the Manager and the Technician
  • Dreaming: Entrepreneurs have a vision, a vision that needs to be accomplished. Like the Technician, an Entrepreneur needs to reach their goal. Unlike the Technician, the Entrepreneur can often be unrealistic with their expectations and decide to figure out the “small” details later
  • Unorganised: With a disinterest in the details Entrepreneurs are forward-facing, sometimes too forward-facing. With their heads stuck in the future, they can’t see the present and assume “everything will be alright in the end”. This leads to them being disorganised and not respecting the workflow systems that the Manager has tried so hard to put in place

How this helps you

We humans are predisposed to thinking in one of the three ways. One of the main conceits of Gerber’s book is that the “true” Entrepreneur has the three mindsets embedded in themselves, or has to ability to think in the three mindsets. However, it’s very rare that you’ll see a wholly balanced business owner.

In order to fully grasp this lesson read the strengths and weaknesses of each of the mindsets and decide:

  • Which strengths you already embody?
  • Which weaknesses do you have?
  • Which strengths are a priority to acquire?
  • Which weaknesses are a priority to lose?

Then under each of the answers include three action points of how you’re going to perform each of the goals.

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