Why Systems Focused Owners are better business builders than business starters

coffeeLast week we tried to give perspective to the idea that being the classic Market Focused entrepreneur isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. This week we’re looking at why Systems Focused managers are great business builders but aren’t such great business starters.

There are three basic business owner profiles:

  1. The Market Focused owner
  2. The Systems Focused owner
  3. The Product Focused owner

Every owner is a mix of all three, but we all lean heavily on a primary profile for the way we manage and make decisions.

Systems Focused owners are just that – focused on systems, process, procedures, routine. They look at business from the inside out – from the point of view of operations and delivery, not from the point of view of the market or the customer. Make a consistent product at the right margins and you’ve got a good company, so the Systemizer thinks. They’re not always passionate about the particular product or service they’re selling, but they are very passionate about operations itself.

They’re big on research and planning, usually wanting to make sure they’ve thought of everything, and as a result, are usually very risk averse and slow to make decisions. Speed of Execution is not their forte’. They make great managers, administrators, academics, scientists, and engineers. They are absolutely vital to a business growing to maturity, but it’s rarely a good idea for a Systems Focused person to be strike out on their own to start a business.

The Systems Focused person is usually very good at understanding how a business should run, so they think that translates to being good at starting a business.

Rarely.

Because Systems Focused owners are such great planners, this ironically works against them in starting a business. That great research and planning instinct also contributes to their usual great aversion to risk. These two things usually combine to make Systems Focused people very bad at starting a business.

The #1 indicator of success in the early stages of a business is not how great the planning was, how perfect the product is out of the gate, how knowledgeable we are about our market, or how much money we’ve sunk into the project. The #1 indicator of success in the earliest stages of a business is Speed of Execution, which, along with risk aversion, is the biggest challenge for a Systems Focused owner.

Systems Focused owners will miss opportunity after opportunity making sure their operations are well oiled, their marketing is perfect, and their delivery mechanism is seamless. And until they get it right, they won’t pull the trigger. Their unwillingness to move until conditions are perfect (risk aversion) will drain their startup capital and leave them miles behind their competition at every step.

The Systemizer lacks vision for the future (too busy researching the past) and urgency for today’s production. If the Systemizer recognizes their strengths, they’ll get the influence of a Market Focused person to help them keep tomorrow in focus, and the influence of a Product Focused person to help them get a sense of urgency about today – Speed of Execution. If they can do this, their likelihood of starting and growing a mature business will go up exponentially. FYI – they do much better buying a franchise (with good systems in place) or existing business, than starting a business from scratch.

Next week, we’ll talk about the third profile, the Product Focused owner; the one who starts the overwhelming majority of businesses, and has a better track record doing so than the other two. But growing a business to maturity? That’s another story.

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