Are you a maker, manager, or a dreamer? A technician, the boss, or an entrepreneur? Every individual brings different value, but simply put:
- an entrepreneur changes the business,
- a manager runs the business, and
- a technician masters their craft.
It may seem that you need to choose a role in your career. While some clearly choose a role, most of our personalities share traits with many of these roles, either in different times during our life or simultaneously.
The challenge is to schedule according to your role/s, realizing that different roles have different needs.
Technicians Are Makers
Most of us start our first business as a technician, or maker. Technicians love their craft and focus on mastery, living in the present. Ever used the term “If you want it done right, do it yourself”? Chances are you’re a technician at heart.
Technician’s don’t daydream about things, they are focused on getting things done, properly. They tinker and improve – that is their role.
Technicians have great skills and often feel limited by managers or “the system” so decide to go it alone.
“To The Technician, ‘the system’ is dehumanizing, cold, antiseptic, and impersonal. It violates his individuality. Work is what a person does. And to the degree that it’s not, work becomes something foreign.” – E‑Myth Revisited by Michael Gerber
In my case, I wanted location independence and my previous job was unable to give that to me. I was skilled and took a lot of pride in my work, so why not sell my services as a business?
What many technicians, (including myself at the time) don’t realize is that there are many more moving parts to a business than “getting shit done“. I mean;
- How do you invoice clients?
- Should you incorporate? In which country?
- Where will your clients come from?
- Do you need a corporate bank account?
- What do you do with that box full of receipts come tax time?
Managers Create Order
While technicians make things happen in the present and entrepreneurs look to the future, managers yearn for the past.
Managers make sure that clients are being invoiced on time, expenses are being paid and recurring tasks are being completed. Managers create order in a chaotic, ever-changing world.
“The managerial personality is pragmatic. Without The Manager there would be no planning, no order, no predictability.
Where The Entrepreneur thrives on change, The Manager compulsively clings to the status quo. The Manager is the one who runs after the Entrepreneur to clean up the mess. Without The Entrepreneur there would be no mess to clean up. Without The Manager, there could be no business, no society.” – E‑Myth Revisited by Michael Gerber
Have a compulsive need to organize your bank statements by date or t-shirts by color? You may find yourself attracted to a management role.
Entrepreneurs Are Dreamers
Entrepreneurs are visionary. They don’t get caught up in technical practicalities – you can pay someone to figure that part out! Visionaries can overlook all of the reasons why it’s a bad idea and turn it into a success, sometimes.
“The dreamer. The energy behind every human activity. The imagination that sparks the fire of the future. The catalyst for change. The way he usually chooses is to bully harass, excoriate, flatter, cajole, scream, and finally, when all else fails, promise whatever he must to keep the project moving.” – E‑Myth Revisited by Michael Gerber
Possibly a little exaggerated, but it’s very true that the entrepreneur creates challenges for managers and technicians. (Ask my wife, the classic “household manager”, while I create chaos!)
What If You Are All Three?
The reality is, when you start your own business you need to be the maker, manager, and the dreamer. Each one of these personas has different needs, especially when it comes to time. In Paul Graham’s Maker’s Schedule, Manager’s Schedule, we learn about the difference in how time is valued for makers and managers.
While both have the same number of hours in the day, the manager’s schedule is typically split into 1 hour intervals throughout the day as they shuffle from meeting to meeting.
Meetings Suck for Making Things
The maker’s schedule isn’t able to jump around this much though. Technicians that want to master their craft need large periods of uninterrupted time to be efficient and focused. In Paul’s piece, he is mainly referring to developers, but in reality anyone that is performing complex problem solving or creative, fine-tuning tasks need this time. To write a new function or a new chapter may take 4 hours – if a maker knows there is a meeting in 2 hours’ time, chances are they won’t start the work.
As a result, there is a conflict – makers break their day up into morning and afternoon – two 4 hour blocks, while managers break their day up into eight 1 hour blocks (for much of the developed world).
The dreamer on the other hand needs time to think big, without perfection. That might be writing in your journal, sketching new designs, burning through whiteboard markers coming up with business org-charts, reading new books or researching online. Similar to time spent making, entrepreneurs such as yourself need uninterrupted time to dream up the future of your business. Even if you are engaging in group brainstorming to think big, it still needs to be uninterrupted – how often has an urgent phone call ruined a session?!
The big take away here is how disruptive meetings can be. Let’s be honest – modern day “meetings” also extend to emails, phone calls, text messages and other online messaging services. It’s no surprise that discussions on the “flow state” are so popular right now, as our attention span shortens due to constant distraction.
For more on this, I strongly recommend reading Deep Work by Cal Newport.
Makers Schedule, Managers Schedule, Dreamers Schedule
I propose an update to the Maker’s Schedule, Managers Schedule.
While you are in your startup phase, you need to make time to be a maker, manager and a dreamer in your schedule. For people such as myself, this works best as a daily routine – but you know what works best for your personality type.
I use my circumstances to help work with my productivity needs. After moving to Andorra, two changes became obvious:
- The businesses I work with mostly begin to start their day around 3-6pm my time (9am their time).
- The local work day where I live starts around 9-10am and finishes around 6-7pm with a 2 hour lunch break between 1-3pm.
As my mornings are mostly uninterrupted time, it’s the perfect time for me to be a technician. I can usually get around 3.5 hours of uninterrupted time to myself. Yes, time managed correctly while living in a different country is an under appreciated form of geo-arbitrage.
I typically combine my lunch break as time to think big with around 2 hours of reading, learning, brainstorming and talking with other business contacts on how we can do things better. Often this is combined with gym, hiking or mountain biking, which clears my head. It’s incredible how easily huge problems can be solved by going for a hike in the mountains!
After lunch, I put my manager hat on and take meetings with clients, answer emails, update Trello cards and talk with my team. While I can be a maker or a dreamer during this time, depending on how “busy” things are, expectations are low so I don’t feel bad if I don’t tick anything off of the list after 3pm.
Example Daily Work Schedule
9:30am-1pm: Maker/Technician Time
1pm-3pm: Dreamer/Entrepreneur Time (often combined with training)
3pm-8pm: Manager Time
The reality is that leaving your job to work for yourself is going to require some sort of combination of making, managing and dreaming. Depending on your goals and personality traits, the time you are willing to spend on each role will vary.
Be aware of your time needs for each of these roles, minimize distractions when required and find out what works best for you.
Steve Rodley (Retired... almost) says
I found this very informative. Well written!
Zeeman Memon says
Running a digital agency I got extremely burnt out from having to manage + be a maker. At first I thought this is just tough hence why mentally challenging but now just realized I should’ve made a clear distinction by separating my ‘maker’ and ‘manager’ time.