What is the difference between businesses that succeed and those that give-up, quit, or never get started? - Identity
As the sound of the violin echoes throughout the music hall, the crowd leans in watching every stroke of the bow across the strings. Soon after the sound of horns begin to bellow in unison with every stroke and drum rumble through the hall. All eyes are fixated on the musicians. But, without the conductor the ensemble would not operate so seamlessly. Similarly, when we first start our businesses we roll our sleeves up, play all the instruments, and do all the work. But this is a temporary solution to a long term problem. We must move from lead musician to conductor as quickly as possible. We cannot let our identity become attached to a specific role or function in the business. Alternatively we must be focused on time freedom from tasks that are not the best use of our talents. Because more free time gives us the ability to focus on higher ticket projects that align with our skills, and move the business forward in a big way. However, this is easier said than done.
For most entrepreneurs, letting go of their natural talent, and leaning into the role of generalist does not come easy. In Michael Gereber’s book, he refers to this phenomenon as the E-Myth. This fallacy assumes everyone who starts a business is an entrepreneur, when in reality the majority of people who start businesses are technicians. They were really good at a specific role or function in a business and assume that will translate to running a business. They get their identity from their ability to deliver the product or service, sell, market, or analyze, etc. And this identity crisis is the reason why businesses fail. It's not money, or the economy like most attempt to blame away their failures. But it is 100% the entrepreneurs ability to scale beyond their own personal identity. As entrepreneurs we need to be focused on conducting and delegating to employees while we elevate our thinking from one hundred dollar an hour work to $10,000, $100,000 and $1,000,000 an hour work. (Listen to this podcast)
There are 5.34 million new business entities formed each year in the United States. Which sounds impossible when you say that number out loud: Five Million, Three Hundred and Forty Thousand. How can that many new businesses start each year, when there are only six million employing companies in the United States? Truth be told, 80% of these new businesses won't make it past the first two years. Ouch! Although businesses fail for a variety of reasons, I have come to understand that every business fails when the demands of the business exceed the skill of the entrepreneur. It is essential early on in your business to identify your strengths and weaknesses so that you can get into your sweet spot and backfill your weaknesses with other talented employees.
But how do we identify our strengths in an unbiased manner?
Two excellent tests have worked for me, which help me get clear on my strengths and weakness: DISC & STRENGTHS-FINDER.
What is DISC?
DISC assessments are behavioral self-assessment tools based on the 1928 DISC emotional and behavioral theory of psychologist William Moulton Marston. The tools are designed to predict job performance based on personality traits. However, the scientific validity of DISC has been contested and is, by some, considered to be a pseudoscience. That said, I have personally taken DISC 5+ times and every time it comes back in the same way. Therefore, the scientific validity for our needs is rather high because it is repeatable and consistent. Additionally, DISC gives us a framework to categorize individuals' personalities and better understand how to put them in a position to win; myself included.
How to use DISC?
Personally, I use DISC to help identify what pieces of the business I should offload to employees who are better suited to handle them. If I can get into my sweet spot for most of my day, then my business will be able to 10x. And for every hour I spend working on things that aren't conducive to my talents, I am stealing from my businesses.
- Decisive - I am determined & competitive in my approach to solving problems.
- Interactive - I am gregarious, persuasive & inspiring in my approach to working with people
- Stabilizing - I am Consistent & Stabilizing in my pace
- Cautious - I am independent & Balance in my approach to processes, systems & protocol.