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Work on and not in your business


Article written by Jannie Rossouw, Head: Sanlam Business Market

You have surely heard the statement above, but what does it really mean?

To start, run and succeed in business is not for the faint-hearted. Why? International statistics state that 40% of all new business start-ups fail in the first year and 80% within the first five years, and 80% of those who made it through the first five years fail in the second five years. Hence, only 4% make it after 10 years. South Africa is no different – our failure rates might even be worse. It is said that business is simple, but not easy.

Where do you find your business on this bumpy road to success?

In the classic entrepreneurial book, The E-Myth, Michael E. Gerber unveils the reality of running and owning a business.

A business owner, according to him, is three people in one:

  • An Entrepreneur : a visionary, an innovator, is mostly unstructured, a deal-maker
  • The Manager: practical, a planner, an implementer, a creator of order from chaos
  • The Technician: the doer

Many people start their own business, because they are good technicians, but without prior knowledge and experience of running a business.

This article provides some insights into how the business owner can juggle the three roles (entrepreneur, manager and technician) to enable a business to grow and become more successful over time.

Practical guideline to illustrate how a business owner can work ON their business

In closing

The reality of the practical guideline above is that the majority of tasks to be done in business speak to the role of manager. The implication is that, if you are doing all the work as a technician (the doer), the progress and future success of your business will suffer.

This list of tasks is by no means complete, but it is a very good point of departure. It is very important that you find the balance between the roles of technician, manager and entrepreneur and what will work best for you and your business.

To support business owners with the important task of business planning, Sanlam gives you free access to the book Your Annual Business Game Plan for Success, which provides an easy and straightforward framework needed to draft a well-crafted game plan that will create the positive change and growth necessary for business success.

Go to to download your free copy.

Sanlam is a proud Partner of the NSBC.