Entrepreneurs are a lot like youth soccer players. Watch the same kids during a few practices, then during a few games, and you'll notice they tend to fall into one of two main categories:

  • Wozniaks: Love learning new techniques, advanced moves, sophisticated tactics... Wozniaks love the process of playing soccer and will happily perform drill after drill.
  • Jobs: Techniques and moves are interesting, and drills are fun for a minute or two... but Jobs come alive when they compete.

Entrepreneurs often fall into the same two categories. Here's an example:

  • You love nothing more than solving problems and developing new techniques and tactics. You love the process; you're a Wozniak.
  • You like solving problems, but how is less important than why. You like developing ideas, you like working with others to turn those ideas into products, you like creating a business out of those ideas, and you like to compete. You love turning ideas into a business; you're a Jobs.

Seem simplistic? It is, but it's also reasonably accurate. That's why, regardless of the type of business you want to start, the first step is to ask yourself: Am I happiest as a Wozniak or a Jobs?

Here's a hypothetical example. Say you want to open a restaurant. If you're excited by the thought of creating a menu and running your kitchen on a busy night, you're a Wozniak. You need a partner who loves running the business side of the restaurant, otherwise all the "business stuff" will drive you crazy.

If you're excited by the thought of establishing one successful restaurant, and then opening more locations based on your original theme, you're a Jobs. You need a partner or an executive chef to handle day-to-day kitchen management.

Here's a real-life example. My (then) next-door neighbor, John, was a computer science professor -- and one of the two founders of Rosetta Stone. His brother-in-law Allen had the idea for a different way to learn languages. Allen and John started the company, Allen focusing on the business development side and John on the programming and tech side. John was the Wozniak. Allen was the Jobs.

Later they brought in Allen's brother Eugene to be a second Jobs (disproving the assumption that two Jobs cannot occupy the same space at the same time.) They clearly embraced and enjoyed their roles while building a successful company. (And no, I wasn't smart enough to be an early investor... but then again, they didn't ask me. And I didn't have any money anyway.)

Every day, entrepreneurs start new businesses without considering whether they will be happiest as a Wozniak or a Jobs. Many also don't take the time to consider whether their business -- or their chosen career -- will ever allow them to fill the role they most enjoy.

You may have no choice but to be a Wozniak and a Jobs as you get your business off the ground... but make sure you create and follow a plan that will let you do more of what you love as your business grows.

If starting a certain type of business won't let you do more of what you love, why start that business in the first place?

Published on: Jun 2, 2017
Like this column? Sign up to subscribe to email alerts and you'll never miss a post.