Small Business Strategy: Moving From “Owner” To “Entrepreneur”

in On Entrepreneurship

Sarah is a small business owner who lives in a state of steady crisis reaction.

She is well-versed in dealing with the crisis of the moment, even skilled at it.

So good, in fact, that when those moments of opportunity arise when she can step back and focus on the business at a systemic level, it is so uncomfortable and unknown that it never happens.

Opportunity is lost.


Soon another crisis looms. Demanding attention, getting a rise from those crisis-loving brain chemicals.

(If such a crisis doesn’t “pop up” … Sarah might well “create” it all on her own. Nature abhors a vacuum, ya know.)

Sarah’s is a comfortable position for far too many small business owners.

Moving beyond it is one of the key distinctions that mark the leap from small business owner to entrepreneur.

Three small business strategy questions

Here’s a simple exercise to test your clarity.

Don’t worry, you can answer at home with the curtains drawn. Be honest, no one else will know.

  • Why does your business exist — what is its purpose in the world?
  • How does your business sustain itself while fulfilling that purpose?
  • What are the 3 key things you are focusing on this quarter to serve the last two questions?

If you can’t answer those questions in a flash, without hesitation, you are due a strategy day.

Ponder the big questions and how you day-to-day actions either serves your vision, detracts from your vision, or are absolutely aimless because you have no vision.

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Ryan Critchett January 2, 2012 at 5:53 pm

I wouldn’t say that without those 3 things, are things you need to answer in a flash. Especially when they change a lot. BUT, I will say that you should be pretty savvy in the area of setting systems in place that sustain the business while you (if you’re really an entrepreneur) go out and build other things. Being an entrepreneur, over a business owner, is not characterized by the systems you have in place but rather, the things you’re going to do once you have that established (or have some other way to free yourself up to go engage in other ventures).

SO! Great post though.


2 david February 11, 2011 at 1:26 am

your post is great. thanks for sharing


3 Don November 17, 2009 at 1:47 pm

Sounds like my task list. I add 3 or 4 things on every day and complete 2-3 so my list keeps growing. You have to set some specific time aside to complete the tasks in your business plan to move the business forward.


4 ciconis November 3, 2009 at 7:53 pm

Great post! Thanks!


5 Bobby October 12, 2009 at 1:45 pm

I've seen this “Putting Out Fires” mode of project management in action before and it's never good for business in the long term. Actually, I've had managers so addicted to it that they know nothing else. Long-term planning, as pointed out, suffers accordingly.


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