Moving From Entrepreneur to Manager – Or Not

Moving From Entrepreneur to Manager

Entrepreneurs are not, by nature, managers. They are creatives who have a passion about their ideas and see the grand picture of bringing those ideas to fruition and profit. Running a business and managing other people? Not so much.

This is not to say they cannot learn to become managers. In fact, they must, as their businesses grow and they bring more people on board. Someone has to manage this team and all of the functions of the business. And that, dear entrepreneur, will probably be you (or not).

Some Management Skills are Already Intact

Before you became an entrepreneur, you had an idea. To turn that idea into a business, however, required certain management decisions. You had to start planning your startup with a business plan. This may not have been a formal plan, but you at least had to research the market and determine some goals for the next few years. You had to make decisions about how products or services would be produced, packaged and marketed. Already you were making management decisions.

Growth Means Complex Management

You’ve gone at it alone for a while. But that is no longer possible. You are seeking investors, and they want to see a formal business proposal; you are employing staff and they want job descriptions; investors want to see your books, your long-range plans, and the day-to-day operations are getting more complex. All of a sudden, you need to step up and fill multiple management roles.

  • You must manage your time and learn to prioritize your tasks
  • You must manage your team, and that will require skills in communication as well as delegation
  • You must recruit, interview and make hiring decisions, ensuring that a new team member is compatible with the organization in addition to having the hard and soft skills you want.
  • You must manage your sales and marketing people so that new customers are continually coming on board.
  • You must manage the customer service operation to keep existing customers happy and ensure that new customers receive great treatment before, during, and after the sale.
  • You must keep your finger on the financial operations. While most entrepreneurs ultimately contract their finance and accounting services out or higher a financial manager, they cannot just “let that ride.” They must review the financials regularly.

This is a long laundry list of skills entrepreneurs must develop if they are to remain in business. And there are several ways to do this:

  • Get a mentor who is successfully managing his/her own business. This individual can provide coaching and guidance as you wade into the waters of management
  • Take a management course – many are now online, so this allows flexibility while you learn.
  • Read everything you can get your hands on about management
  • Join a business networking organization locally, attend meeting, and take advantage of the advice and coaching that is offered.

What if Management is Not for You?

It’s certainly possible that you will never become an effective manager. It may simply be because you hate management tasks, or that you are just not “wired” to be one. Instead, you find your joy and passion in the ideas and the big picture. And you would rather leave the details or operations and management to others. This is okay, for you have a pretty good company.

Entrepreneurs and/or Managers

In the beginning, anyone who starts his/her own business hustles. That’s just the “nature of the beast.” You are out there on your own, doing it –promoting your product or service, putting in long hours, looking for investors. It’s all on you.

The business takes hold and you begin to grow. You realize that it is going to make it. It is at this point that you cross a threshold. You also realize that you have one of two paths to follow, based on your passions.

The Path of the Entrepreneur: If in your heart, you are first and foremost an entrepreneur, then your passion is ideas – always ideas. Here is how you will be happy.

  • You are ready to move on to the next idea.
  • Because the day-to-day operations of a business are pretty boring to you, you want to delegate management responsibilities to others and move on to your next big idea.
  • Yes, you want this business to continue, but you also want to push that envelope again.

The Path of a Manager: If in your heart, you are permanently wedded to the idea you brought to fruition, you want to stay right where you are. Here is how you will be happy.

  • You continue to manage your business’s growth
  • You feel a responsibility to see that business move to the next level and to every level thereafter
  • You like the day-to-day operations and will learn what is necessary to manage them

Both are Successful

Both types of business owners can be successful. Two of the most famous examples are Richard Branson and Steve Jobs (the second time around at Apple).

Branson is an entrepreneur through and through. He goes from one idea to the next with enthusiasm and the attitude that he will make a “go” of it and then move on to the next idea. He freely admits that the ideas come at odd times, but once he has embraced the idea, he moves on it, leaving the previous management responsibilities to enable people he employs.

Steve Jobs was the manager-type. Once he was settled back at the helm of Apple, he would not have dreamed of going anywhere else. In fact, he micro-managed every design change, no matter how tiny, PR and other communications, and even occasionally took customer service calls himself. He loved Apple and loved managing it.

Know Which One You Are

You will not be happy in one of these roles if your passion is the opposite one. It’s time to assess which one you are and to plan the future of your current business based upon that.

Which one are you?

Branson and Jobs have both been incredibly successful at building their businesses, but they have done so in very different ways.

For some of us, being a manager is the path to success. For others, being an entrepreneur is the best bet.

If you’re an entrepreneur, then keep building businesses. If you’re a manager, then focus on a single subject matter and become brilliant. This is about finding your strength.


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  1. Brad Trnavsky

    It’s a difficult transition to make. as an entrepreneur n a management role I have to be careful to surround myself with people under me I can trust to delegate tasks. I tend to have a great idea, then turn it over, and check up on it while I let others implement. This works if you hire well.

  2. Den

    Thank you for the tips. Our business is still young and we are still learning how we can improve the service we provide.

    It’s really hard to maintain the business if you are not prepared. When you plan your startup business, make sure that you lay out your plan well.

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