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John Bissell & Associates

Who’s the chief technician in your business?

By John Bissell
Posted: 2010-06-20 15:11:28
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Businesses are most often founded by a technician, someone who is very good at what they do. This technician thinks –“I know more than my boss. I’m better at making this thing than my boss is. My boss bills me out at this high rate. I could be making that money. I should be making that money! I will be making that money because I’m going to quit and start my own business!” and another small business is born.

Now the CEO (you) is the chief technician. You know the product inside and out and can make the product better than anyone. You hire some people. You teach them how to do the job. You supervise their work. When they get stuck, you solve their technical problem. You are the go to guy in your company and maybe in your industry. Now you can’t figure out how to get your accounting, HR. payroll, taxes, marketing, branding done, and you’re missing deadlines, and your clients are mad, and you’re not making money.

The pitfall that most business owners fall into is: not understanding business in the first place. The purpose of business is to make money, not to make a product. The product is just the vehicle for the money.

You have to have all the elements of business in place to make money. The business needs to have a vision – a plan. Not the detailed 2 inch binder “Business Plan” we learn about in business school – but ideas and knowledge of the market place and what the market needs. Then you have to figure out if you can make the product the market needs. After your ideas and vision are set, and your product is known, NOW you do the business plan – crunching the numbers to see if your ideas and product can make money. The numbers need to be run by someone who won’t forget money details that you as the new entrepreneur will not think of. And the numbers need to include personnel who can continue to fill the three parts noted above – vision, make, and manage – after the company is up and running.

This plan should include a CTO or COO who is the chief technician, a CFO who can manage and can respect the vision (harder to find than you might think) and a CEO who makes the decision at the top – and is the vision person – the one who can see long into the future and steer the ship on the right course. The CTO or COO and the CFO can be hired. The vision really can’t be.

If you are a great technical person, but not much of a risk taker futurist, if you like doing a really good job, if you believe the only way to get a job done right is to do it yourself, if you like helping up the junior technicians where you work right now- you are a technician, and you should really think twice before opening a business – or at least get a visionary partner.

Isaac Duke: Re: - Who’s the chief technician in your business?
2013-08-14 09:42:21

Wow! A land use planner writing this article!

I sell exterior signs and displays, so I frequently get to talk to business owners, including new business owners. It is amazing how little people take a step back and think about business overall. So much of it is common sense, but people skip right over it and jump to whatever thing they want to do, whether it is barbecue, pets, law firms, design, or handyman work. So little of what we do day to day is what we actually do. So much of it is relationships, providing value to clients, and marketing the value we can potentially provide.

Anyways, great article. Always exciting for me to see someone stating the obvious.

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