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You have surely heard the statement above, but what does it really mean?

To start, run and succeed in business is not for the faint-hearted. Why? International statistics state that 40% of all new business start-ups fail in the first year and 80% within the first 5 years, and 80% of those who made it through the first 5 years fail in the second 5 years. Hence, only 4% make it after 10 years. South Africa is no different – our failure rates might even be worse. It is said that business is simple, but not easy.

Where do you find your business on this bumpy road to success?

In the classic entrepreneurial book, The E-Myth, Michael E. Gerber unveils the reality of running and owning a business.

A business owner, according to him, is 3 people in one:

  • An Entrepreneur: visionary, innovator, is mostly unstructured, deal-maker
  • The Manager: practical, planner, implementer, creator of order from chaos
  • The Technician: the doer

Many people start their own business, because they are good technicians, but without prior knowledge and experience of running a business.

This article provides some insights into how the business owner can juggle the three roles (entrepreneur, manager and technician) to enable a business to grow and become more successful over time.

Practical guideline to illustrate how a business owner can work ON his/her business




Where to get help

Business Owner– self Improve own skills – continuous education Technician Industry training bodies/ Technicon/University
  Decide which tasks/responsibilities may be delegated Technician/Manager Management team
  Redefine own responsibilities after the task above is done Manager  
  Focus on:
  • Deals
  • Innovation
  • Financial well-being of business
  • Competitiveness of business
  • Entrepreneur
  • Technician
  • Manager
  • Manager
  • Sales staff
  • Specialists in industry
  • Accountant
  • Accountant
People management Create job descriptions Manager HR practitioner
  Negotiate key performance areas with staff Manager HR Practitioner
  Address remuneration and incentives for staff Manager HR Practitioner
  Upskill staff Technician Industry training bodies
Marketing Choose the optimal marketing elements to market the business Manager Marketing Specialist
  Identify the target market Manager Marketing Specialist
  Do research – competitors and trends in industry Technician/Entrepreneur Press releases/
website of competitors/market research specialist
Sales Ensure optimal staff appointment practices
Identify the ratios and figures which will present guidance on how well the business is doing w.r.t.
  • Prospecting new clients
  • Number of quotes
  • Number of accepted quotes
  • Number of implementations
  • How well after-sales service is done
  • Number of sales to existing customers
Staff placement agency
Sales Specialist
Information Technology Is the business using technology productively? Manager IT Specialist
Management Does the business comply with all appropriate legislation Manager Accountant
  Are management meetings scheduled and structured? Manager Management team
  Are minutes of meetings and decisions taken up to date? Manager Management team
  Are the financial reports up to date?
  • Dashboard
  • Projections vs. actual figures
  • Corrective actions where targets are not being achieved
Manager Accountant

In closing

The reality of the practical guideline above is that the majority of tasks to be done in business speaks to the role of manager. The implication is that, if you are doing all the work as technician (the doer), the progress and future success of your business will suffer.

This list of tasks is by no means complete, but it is a very good point of departure. It is very important that you find the balance between the roles of Technician, Manager and Entrepreneur that will work best for you and your business.

To support business owners with the important task of business planning, Sanlam gives you free access to the book Your Annual Business Game Plan for Success, which provides an easy and straightforward framework needed to draft a well-crafted game plan that will create the positive change and growth necessary for business success.

Go to to download your free copy.

Article written by Jannie Rossouw, Head: Sanlam Business Market


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