If you run your own small business you’ve probably got three heads.
There are two broad categories of people that start businesses: entrepreneurs or technicians. Entrepreneurs are interested in new ideas; in getting a business going and then moving on to their next business idea. Technicians and creatives are people with specific talents and skills that they have nurtured for years and want to use in their own small business. Entrepreneurs can usually share their business at the right moment, creatives and technicians can find sharing their business much harder.
A lot of small businesses are started by technicians/creatives who want a business they can control and enjoy running without being controlled by someone else. They want to be their own boss. If this sounds like you it’s possible you’ve got three heads.
The Three Headed Problem
This is my experience of the three headed problem:
My Husband and I started our garden office design and build business ten years ago. My husband is an architect and already had a busy domestic practice. I was a textile designer with an interest in marketing. As the make-it-all-happen director of our business I had to perform a number of key functions so that the business could hold its own in a new and highly competitive market . To survive I developed three heads.
I had a sales head that relentlessly wanted to drive the business forward. I had a project management head that was threatened by the sales head and used to grumble: “Excuse me but I can only handle ‘x’ number of garden office clients at once if I’m going to do the job properly”. Meanwhile my creative head was irritated by the first two heads and wanted to be left alone in a quiet corner to tweak the website, design a new brochure or a new garden office and drink coffee.
From day one of a new work-from-home or micro business, you will discover similar internal tensions between your creative/technical head, your sales head and your project management head.
- Your sales persona wants to get the orders, grow the business. “Lets get on with it!”
- Your inner project manager wants a balanced amount of work, enough to feel financially secure and to fill the working week without feeling too pressured. “Lets pace ourselves….”
- And your creative/technical head would like to get some ‘real’ work done. “Go away, all of you. Leave me alone.”
So, how do you deal with the three headed dervish that runs your business?
Stick With Three Heads
I stuck with the three headed approach when I built garden offices because I wanted a lifestyle business and didn’t want to expand the business to the point where it would need full time employees. This approach is possible if you are fully aware of your different heads and can allocate each one a certain amount of time each week. I recommend letting each head out on a different day. Swapping from one to another on the same day is time consuming and exhausting.
Managing three heads requires discipline and organisation and can be done for a period of time, until one head, usually the creative/technical one, starts to complain because it feels ignored and frustrated.
Get Rid of Two heads
If you do want to grow your business you will have to get rid of the tension between your three heads and relinquish some control. This means sharing your vision with other people, being flexible about your vision and also accepting their vision as part of your business.
Does the prospect of sharing control make you feel uncomfortable?
Feeling uncomfortable is the downside, but the upside is that to successfully grow your business you have to choose which head you want to wear. You can choose to be the sales head that drives the business forward, the project manager that makes sure the work happens and that the clients or happy or you can be the technician or creative that does the key pieces of work. But, you must genuinely hand over the heads that you don’t want to your new partners and let them wear their heads effectively.
The One Person, One Head Approach
If you work for yourself, and you really do prefer working alone this leaves you with the dilemma of either continuing to work with three heads or abandoning two of them and focusing purely on your technical or creative side. This is possible, but you may have to review the way you work:-
I dropped the two heads which interested me the least; project management and sales and returned to my creative head. So now, rather than selling garden offices or managing building projects and a building team, I write the Insideout Garden Buildings Guide website and other websites that I own and, occasionally undertake small business consultancy.
So which way is best for you? One head or three? Only you know the answer but its important to ask yourself the question.
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