I love asking this question to new, and experienced, business owners because of its simplicity.
Yes, the question is simple and straightforward, however, the answer gives me a TON of valuable information. The answer tells me about the company’s goals, the company’s management, and how much engagement I can expect from the owners and managers.
Yes, and here is why.
Job is defined as “a regular remunerative position.” (thanks Merriam-Webster online)
Owners who look at their business as a job, tend to have one thing in mind, the next paycheck. It could be that they’ve lived in high-stake positions in the past and no longer want additional responsibilities. Or, perhaps they simply love doing what they do and don’t desire greater growth and expansion. Or, it could be fear of the unknown or aversion to risk.
For whatever reason, business owners who answer that they are creating a “job” are essentially telling me that they do not have a long term strategic plan for growth, they don’t desire to lead a team of employees, and they are accustomed to “knocking out the next project” and moving on.
Although these business owners are sometimes less engaged with their advisory team, they can still be great customers for an advisory team because of their commitment to their work product and desire to deliver a quality product or service. As an advisor, it is always preferable to have an engaged client that cares about their own customers.
Business on the other hand is defined as “a usually commercial or mercantile activity engaged in as a means of livelihood.” (thanks again Merriam-Webster online) With the keyword in this definition being commercial.
Here, the business owner may or may not be actively engaged in the work itself; but is massively engaged in making the business a commercial success. This owner tends to see the company as a means to an end, profit and growth are strategically planned and constantly reviewed to ensure the path is always moving forward. This type of business owner, tends to favor long-term commitments and frequent contact with the trusted advisors to help them protect and promote their end game.
Their level of involvement in the company may shift over time as well. Since profitability and growth are important, these business owners tend to establish the rules of the game, but then hire others to help them manage the business and its employees.
These types of owners are often great customers to an advisory team because of their passion for growth and sometimes frequently changing strategic plan. While their “work” may not be the same as the owner who is looking to create a job, they often have very high expectations for their teammates and understand the necessity for quality service and products.
I encourage you to consider the question and ask how it might help you better understand your own business or those that you work with. There is no “right” answer, but it may help guide the rest of the conversation.