Personal Growth Success in Business
Are You Really an Entrepreneur … Or Simply a Service Provider?
I think every business owner has come to the point in their business where they say to themselves, “Sometimes I think it would be much easier to just go get a job!”
Well, if you haven’t, I can assure you I’ve found myself in that position many times, but thankfully it was only a passing thought similar to a gas pain. 🙂
I had a conversation with a business owner a couple weeks ago who was faced with an opportunity to take on a full time position and he was struggling with the decision to shut down his company, and move into the land of employment.
As he explained the opportunity to me, I quickly understood the challenge he was facing.
First of all, he’s amazing at what he does and almost every client he’s worked gives a glowing review of the value they’ve received throughout their business relationship.
His business is doing extremely well and there are no pressing financial disasters, or lack of work that would be pushing him in the direction of leaving the world of an entrepreneur.
On the surface you might be thinking, “Well if things are going well, his customers are raving about him, and there is plenty of work to be done … why the heck would he want to work for someone else?”
I was thinking the exact same thing until we started to explore the benefits his business could potentially receive from the experience and connections he’d gain by pursuing the opportunity. The beauty of the offer was that he could accept it and it would be perfectly reasonable for him to stay for as little as 3-4 years and then he could go back to building his company. If he leveraged the relationships he created during his tenure, his business would likely explode when he jumped back in.
He saw the true benefit of taking the position, but he wasn’t sure he was willing to put his business “on hold” for 3-4 years since he felt like things were going well.
The problem began to come into focus very clearly to me as we talked…
He didn’t really have a business, he was a service provider!
Now don’t get me wrong, there is absolutely nothing wrong with being a service provider, but it isn’t the same thing as being an entrepreneur.
The definition of an entrepreneur is:
a person who organizes and manages any enterprise, especially a business, usually with considerable initiative and risk.
Although that’s the definition listed in Dictionary.com, to me, the way to tell if you have a true business or not is to answer one simple question…
Can your “business” go on if you aren’t present or working within it?
In my opinion, if the answer to this question is “NO,” then I personally believe you may simply be a service provider, or at least you haven’t yet taken the full responsibilities of an entrepreneur, and developed a true company.
The most successful entrepreneurs take the time to think through the mindset of their “buyers.” They develop processes to ensure they deliver what these “buyers” are desperately seeking, and most importantly, they develop a mission and effectively communicate that mission to their staff ( no matter how few they have ) so that mission becomes a part of their company’s DNA.
If you’ve done this correctly, you can have a business that grows and thrives whether you are there or not. This will then free you up to scratch that entrepreneurial itch the next time you have a great idea for a new business. 🙂
Leave a comment below if you’ve ever found yourself dealing with a similar decision, or if you have some words of advice for those who are in that situation currently.
As a ‘service provider’, I would that probably the biggest difference between than and true entrepreneurship is scalability. When you’re a service provider, your clients are buying you. They get to know you and while you may have employees to help with the workload, the reality is that you are always selling yourself along with the business solutions you provide.
I think an entrepreneur is different in that their business doesn’t necessarily focus around one person or even a specific group of people. Even if your name is on the door ala Meijer or WalMart, the customer doesn’t patronize your business because of you.
It’s easy sometimes to indulge the temptation to consider a 9-5 over the trials and tribulations of self employment. The safety net of a steady income and the benefits of letting someone else worry about the responsibility of running the business are alluring and if the right opportunity came along I would have to give it serious consideration. But the reality is that the freedom to take care of MY clients MY way is something you can hardly put a price on.
I have been working on getting out of being a service provider for 6 years now. I guess I am a slow learner. Of course the cloning process hasn’t quite worked out as planned. I have, of course, run a number of experiments, ranging from voodoo to tying myself high in a tree and holding a long metal rod during thunder storms with wires running to ectoplasm in Mason jars. Closest I’ve come is a bunch of little Mini-Me versions, who are perfect clones temperamentally, but too darned short to reach into the range ball tub and drive the golf cart, let alone get a good angle to film your golf swing, yet fingers too fat and stubby to use a keyboard or credit card processing machine. Right now, I’m using the clones I’m stuck with as professional walkers of very small dogs. Looking for a business partner for http://www.MiniatureDogWalkers.com
I have no doubt I am both, a service provider and an entrepreneur. Within our first year we formed and built Avanti Law Group from ground up and we expect to reach the one million mark in gross receipts during our second year. The risk factor is part of our business DNA. However, as Mike says, clients hire me! While we have staff and 7 other brilliant attorneys available to assist with the work, people come to me, they know my work ethic and skills, and they want me to do their work. There is no way around that. However, having the correct procedures and the correct support staff, allow me to travel a lot ( something that I love doing ), spend time with my daughter, and enjoy other things that I like. So, I can go away for 10 days, as I have, and the work continues…. but, I have to come back and be there for the client.