Business Owners Have (and Need) Three Heads

My business is helping business owners, but I am also a business owner myself.  And I have been a business owner since 1999. 

I have three (figurative) heads with three voices that lead me.  The entrepreneur.  The businessman.  The tradesman.

Which one or ones of these voices are in control of the others very heavily influences how my business is doing and where it is going.  The same is true for you and your business.

Based on my own experiences, I’m going to describe below what your business and life will tend to look like depending on which voice or voices control your head and your business.  See if you have experienced the same…

Tradesman Voice – The Steadfast Perfectionist



For roughly my first 12 year or so in business, my business was controlled by the tradesman voice in my head.  Every major decision I made was focused on perfecting or defending the quality of the service I provided.  This was great for my clients – as I was told by many of them – and the vast majority of my clients were very pleased with my services to them. 

However, in doing so, I ignored the businessman voice who told me I needed to be more growth and profit-driven, specifically that I needed to focus on serving a specific type of profitable client.  And too often I suppressed the entrepreneur inside and did too little innovating and exploring.

As a result, on the up side I had a very high quality business and great relations with my clients (big shout out of ‘thank you, you’re the best!’ to those that may be reading this).  On the down side, I allowed my client focus to become much too scattered, had too few best fit clients, and no marketing and no specific profit goals – all of which culminated in declining joy from my work.

Businessman Voice – The Profit-Driven Organizer



Having learned from those mistakes, I had to engage and empower my head’s most natural voice: businessman.  That voice told me to listen close to tradesman when it comes to matters of quality, but to ignore his crazy idea that you can just focus on doing perfect work and forget everything else.  Businessman said to pick out one or a few core profitable services, and focus like crazy on promoting them to customers that need, appreciate, and will pay for them.

Businessman is a smart guy (acts like it too sometimes).  And I owe a lot to him because his voice has transformed my thinking and approach for the better. 

I do have to shut him up sometimes when he starts getting all greedy and money’s-the-be-all-and-end-all on me.  But when he stays on his core message – promote what you do best, efficiently, and profitably to best fit customers – and I do what he says, my life as an owner is a lot easier! 

Because of businessman, my bank account is a lot healthier.  Family’s better off.  And I get to take breaks once in a while from my work.  All in all life and work is fun again!

Entrepreneur Voice – The Thrill-Seeking Innovator



While tradesman is perfect and businessman is smart, entrepreneur is amazing.  In my own head, he can go dormant for a while – and was for me for way too long while tradesman was dominating the show.  But he comes up with the most unbelievable stuff when he speaks.  Things tradesman could never think of and businessman would never consider without him.  In fact, when he gets on a roll, it’s like a flood that can’t be held back.  PERFORMIDABLE would not exist without him.

I love his voice.  But tradesman generally avoids him, and thinks he’s crazy.  Businessman likes him when he comes up with profitable ideas, but also thinks most of his ideas are nuts.  Entrepreneur returns the favor by thinking tradesman is too stuck in his ways to do anything exciting, and dislikes it when businessman insults him or tells him his ideas won’t work. 

Entrepreneur tends to live an exciting yet chaotic life. The term “can’t live with ‘em, can’t live without ‘em” was made for entrepreneur. The best way I have found to engage his voice is to empower and expect him to initiate new things and growth, but within the context of: (1) submission to businessman’s management and accountability, and (2) delegation of quality control and production work to tradesman.

I have enjoyed listening to entrepreneur a lot more lately than I have in the past.  And by giving businessman and tradesman their due time to speak as well, I see big things in store…

You Need to be a Three-Headed Business Owner

To be successful, you too need to be a three-headed business owner.  Entrepreneur, businessman, and tradesman all need to be chirping away with their different perspectives if you are going to make the big time or make it at all long term in business.  Entrepreneur has to dream and explore, businessman has to plan and manage, and tradesman has to produce with excellence. 

Get rid of or don't have any one of them, and your business will be lopsided and unhealthy.  Manage and focus them like you would your staff by having all of them and placing them in their best fit roles (and only those roles), and you’ll be on your way.

If you are like most owners, one or two of these voices or heads may dominate over the others. And your business is probably defined – for better and worse – by the dominant and recessive traits that voice or those voices carry. 

If so, you’re in luck!  The three heads and voices above my shoulders will make sure you hear from each of the three here on this blog – including those that may be most recessive, absent, or suppressed above your own shoulders.  You’ll hear from these voices:

  • Edge the Entrepreneur
  • Barron the Businessman
  • Tony the Tradesman

It will be humorous at times, as they bicker like teenagers in a locker room and throw an occasional pity party.  But along the way, their squabbles will help you run your business like a three-headed owner should...  

They will lead you to see and consider all perspectives needed to make wise business decisions.  And these decisions will help you: generate enough profit to live comfortably, get more enjoyment out of running your business, and get away more often to get re-energized.

Here’s to those benefits of the three-headed business owner! 

Long live Edge, Barron, and Tony!

Long live small business! Long live small business owners!

Jim Smith, Founder, PERFORMIDABLE, LLC