New enterprises aren't typically started by entrepreneurs or people who have created businesses before, Tricia Huebner, vice president of development for Ashland-based E-Myth, told a Chamber of Medford/Jackson County Forum gathering Monday at the Rogue Valley Country Club.
"Most businesses are started by someone else who decides they want to have their own business," Huebner said. "They have what we call the entrepreneurial seizure."
When that moment hits, thoughts center around having more time, making more money than working for someone else and the ability to choose one's own path.
"These are the common personal and emotional reasons," said Huebner, whose firm has dealt with nearly 75,000 clients in 130 countries over the past three decades. But the dream and the reality don't always match up.
"If you go back to that moment," she said, "and you think about what you wanted, how far are you from being in that place?"
Business owners wear three distinctive hats -- technician, manager or entrepreneur. How they balance their skills atop the organization goes a long way in determining a company's success.
"Once you've got the vision, it's a lot easier to get there," Huebner said. "How you get there and how you spend your time says everything about whether it will take you three years or five years or if you can get there faster."
Technicians are doers, by nature, producing products and services. Managers teach people how to deliver services and how best to do business. Entrepreneurs are dreamers and visionaries, seeking opportunities.
"You've got all three of these going on in your head," she said. "The larger you get, the more you have to shift those hats. You will have all three of these perspectives as an owner and all three will see the world differently."
Business owners deal with three critical factors: Time, money and the work going on around them, Huebner said. Time is part of the task for technicians, managers analyze what's going on, and entrepreneurs are thinking about the future.
The percentage of time an owner spends on strategic efforts should grow as the company matures. She said it's "reasonable" for owners in an early stage business to spend 50 percent or more of their time on tactical pursuits. Beyond five years, however, that should begin to change.
"If you stay there, you are not going to be able to grow and develop and achieve your goals," Huebner said.
Understanding how much time the owner should wear each hat -- technician, manager or entrepreneur -- will pay off.
"Just doing that can change your business," Huebner said. "It will change it, because of the awareness of the dynamics going on that you haven't seen before."
One payoff is the awareness of so-called "time bandits" stealing time.
"You wonder why at the end of the day, you're just not quite getting to the priority things that need to be doing," she said.
Understanding where time is being spent allows owners to make choices, delegate work and assign duties. From there a business can develop because its owner's attention becomes more strategic.
"You're looking at it as, 'How can I develop my business as a I grow my business?' " she said.
She said there are fatal assumptions, including the belief that merely understanding the technical aspects of products and services enables a person to launch a successful business.
"The reason that assumption is fatal is that when you get too fixated on the technical work of the business and still need to do a lot of that work yourself, you're keeping yourself from focusing on the strategic work that allows you to grow and develop the business."
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