Today we talk about why it needs not just one but two entrepreneurs to build a successful business and why it is essential that these two have dramatically different roles.
I will talk about this with Mark C. Winters who is the co-author of the book rocket fuel.
If you are an entrepreneur or you work for a small business, this interview may be an eye opener for you.
Listen to the podcast version
About a year ago a friend of mine told me about a book called “Rocket Fuel”. He said:
“Bernd, you need to read this.”
I was amazed to hear that and wanted to know more about it.
The situation of my entrepreneurial friend
My friend told me that by reading the book he finally understood why he has been frustrated with his company over the last years although from outside he was a successful entrepreneur.
In less than 5 years he has built a company with 30 employees. The company was well positioned in the market and – at least from outside – quite profitable.
But he was working his butt off. He was working more or less 24/ 7.
Of course he was passionate for his business, but taking care about the day-to-day work, the nitty gritty details that was frustrating for him.
He complained about his employees. They were not working on the right things, they didn’t understand quickly enough what he wanted from them. He had a lot of great new ideas for new products, for new marketing and sales ideas but in the day-to-day business he didn’t find the time to work on them.
His solution: Rocket Fuel
He told me, when he read the book Rocket Fuel he finally understood the reason for his frustration. He understood his role in the company. He told me:
He is the visionary. That’s the leader who should focus on new ideas and on new products, on product improvements and on customers. But this was not what he was doing most of his time. He wanted to spend more time in his role as a visionary.
But to do this, he needed someone who could do all the day-to-day work, who focuses inside the company. A person with this role is a so called integrator.
The two roles in a business
In the book Rocket Fuel the two authors describe these two roles:
“The visionary possesses a pioneering spirit that seizes market opportunities, dreams big, and inspires people behind a common vision. Visionaries notice problems in the word and find ways to solve them. They are a continuous source of new ideas.
The integrator is a realist. Integrators ensure commitments are kept, deadlines are met, and resources are managed. Integrators align resources to make the visionary’s dream a reality.”
The two roles – the visionary and the integrator role – are vital to building a great company.
The problem of a lot of entrepreneurs
The problem is, that rarely one person can fulfill both roles. Normally an entrepreneur starts a company because he or she is an entrepreneur and a strong visionary.
But mostly after some time one or more of 5 frustrations kick in. Marc C. Winters and Gino Wickman, the authors of Rocket Fuel describe these 5 frustrations of a visionary as follows:
Lack of control
You started the business so you can have more control over your time, money and freedom, but once you reach a certain point of growth, you realize that somehow you actually have less control. The business is now controlling you.
Lack of Profit
No matter how hard you work, the numbers just don’t add up.
Nobody seems to understand you or do things your way. You’re just not on the same page.
Hitting the ceiling
Growth had stopped. The business is more complex, and you can’t figure out exactly why it isn’t working.
Nothing is working
You’ve tried several remedies, consulted books and instituted quick fixes. None of these have worked for long.
The solution is: You – as the visionary – need to embrace your visionary nature and you need to get an integrator on board.
“The integrator integrates the major functions of the business, run the organization, and manage the day-to-day issues that arise. The integrator is the glue that holds the people, processes, systems, priorities, and strategy of the company together.”
Rocket Fuel describes the roles of the visionary and the role of the integrator in detail.
It focuses on how to find an integrator and how the visionary and the integrator can successfully work together. As you can surely imagine, it is not easy for a visionary to hand over responsibilities and decisions to the integrator. But this is crucial in order to work successfully together. Only then the integrator can do his job.
Find my interview with one of the authors of Rocket Fuel: Mark C. Winters in this podcast episode:
If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.
Author unknown – quote from Africa