Entrepreneur magazine (p. 14), several business leaders were polled – most considered themselves entrepreneurial, while one considered herself a small business owner. The common thread seemed to be that most thought that small business owners simply start and stay small, while entrepreneurs take huge risks and either make it big or lose everything. As a business strategy consulting firm, we are often faced with the question of how to help a client build their business with the ideal outcome that represents their role in their business. This might be building a business around a great product or service, helping a business leader start or stabilizing an existing business, or developing a scalable, duplicate-able infrastructure for a high growth business. The challenge for many business leaders is that they don’t know where they fit, and thus, are challenged when it comes to making certain decisions about their businesses. Decisions for an entrepreneurial firm might be devastating to a typical small business firm…and visa versa. Consider the following:
- An entrepreneur often comes up with an on slot of ideas – good or bad – for businesses. Many deal with “flash in the pan” types of goods or services, though some do take a single concept and grow and expand it for all its worth. They typically are very good at leadership, but not so good at management – managing the day-to-day activities of a firm. You might see them as people who are always building something.
- A small business owner, on the other hand, is someone who tends to have the more stable personality, and will build a business with the goal of making it possible, supporting their family and being part of the elite community of small business owners. While they tend to be good or great managers, they often lack the leadership and drive toward a vision to grow a business that could be bigger than what they can physically put their hands on.
- A high growth small business owner is probably the hybrid between the two: the business leader wants to not only start a business, but he or she wants to create something that makes an impact, ideally, on the way people do things for an unforeseen future. Their businesses might start off as small, but are aiming to grow their businesses, as one client put it, “As big as it will grow.”