Isn’t it that an entrepreneur is a different person from a manager?
Q: We don’t understand how you can say in the closing paragraph of your column last Friday (Nov. 22, 2013) that an entrepreneur and a manager are one and the same person. This is contradicted by our own experience as a 2-generation family corporation.
We’re a medium-sized cosmetics company which my late father started. He was an entrepreneur who turned his “inventions” into a business. His business succeeded and grew because he was married to my late mother who was a good manager. Out of this, we learned that the entrepreneur is a different person from the manager.
And that was how I, as the eldest son, continued in building this company. Our father and mother left us in the same year. I resigned from the multinational company where I was the assistant VP-finance to take over the business. I knew at the very start that being in cosmetics, this company needed to be innovative with its products. I knew that we required an entrepreneur for that as I was not an entrepreneur at all. So we hired and partnered with a retired R&D VP of a large cosmetics company. Things had worked out well since. So here’s another experience which told us that the manager (and that’s myself) is a different person from the entrepreneur.
Actually, it’s not just our own experience that has proven to us this difference. We’ve attended many seminars on entrepreneurship and innovations and all the speakers have said the same thing about how the entrepreneur is a different person from the manager.
So, this time isn’t your column departing too far from business reality? Isn’t the reality in the fact that the entrepreneur and the manager are not found in one person but are two different persons?
A: Our extensive experience in long-term business consulting and in executive education and mentoring taught us that the truer reality has at least two sides to it. The first says that it’s true that the entrepreneur may be a different person from the manager but it’s also true that they can be one and the same person.
The second side says something even more important. It says that there are more cases of the entrepreneur and the manager being in one person than their being two different persons. The reason why there are more such cases is that a business run by a managerial entrepreneur or by an entrepreneurial manager is more likely to perform optimally. In contrast, the business under an entrepreneur who is a different person from the manager while it will also do well is more likely to gain only sub-optimal rather than optimal results.
Let’s first take a look at a good manager who learned to be entrepreneurial in order to deliver optimal performance for and by his company. This is Freddie Rodriguez who was president of Johnson & Johnson Philippines from 1989 to 1999. When he became president, Freddie had one vision and that’s to make J&J Philippines the No. 1 country affiliate. He turned to process innovations as the strategy. He sourced the process innovations from TQM (Total Quality Management), Kaizen and Team Building. In 1995, Freddie attained for J&J Philippines his vision. J&J Phils received the J&J Signature of Quality Silver Award, the highest award ever granted to a country affiliate.
When he retired from J&J, Unilab Consumer Health recruited Freddie to head the Task Force that would develop and market launch pHCare. Freddie’s brand vision for pHCare was simple: “Make its first year entry market share as an FMCG (fast moving consumer group), the most unprecedented.”
According to ACNielsen, before the turn of the millennium, the entry market share of FMCG brands over the past 20-30 years averaged 5 percent to 6 percent. Only one brand succeeded exceeding 10 percent. That was Rejoice whose first year entry market share was 18 percent. But pHCare scored a truly unprecedented entry market share of 52 percent or 10 times the industry average. What can be more optimal than that result?
That optimal market share record rested on Freddie’s three major marketing innovations. The first was in target market segment innovating. Instead of going after the feminine wash user segment, Freddie decided to go after the larger 82 percent category non-users. The second was a positioning innovation. Instead of positioning against the market leader brand then, Lactacyd, Freddie decided to position on daily use. That effectively repositioned Lactacyd which was for anti-UTI usage. The third innovation was in advertising. Instead of the traditional heavy reliance on TV advertising, Freddie chose to complement TV with word-of-mouth communication. This was via Sharon Cuneta’s OB-Gyne.
Now, let’s turn to a good entrepreneur who learned to become a good manager in order to deliver a similar optimal performance. This is the Senior MRx-er’s son, Ardy Roberto, Entrepreneur Magazine’s “Entrepreneur of the Year” for 2006. Ardy set up Salt & Light Ventures Inc. (SLVI) in 2000 and in three short years managed to establish SLVI as the leading learning event organization in the country. It is the only Filipino learning event organizer to have won both international and local awards.
When Ardy started SLVI, he knew from the many setbacks of previous ventures that his weakness was in management. So he attended AIM’s Executive Education Programs as well as other management seminars, and read best-selling management books. After every seminar he attended and after reading “new” ideas, he practiced and applied them at SLVI. These applications sharpened and matured his managerial skills so that after a few years he changed his official designation as CEO to mean “Chief Encouragement Officer.” That’s to leverage on his uncovered strength in people management.
What about those cases where the entrepreneur is a different person from the manager? As we already said, this is also true but it’s not the entire truth. At the same time, if you keep on attending seminars where the speakers confine their examples to your case, in no time at all, you will come to believe that your specific case is the universal case. So expose yourself to the truer reality so that you can go for optimal performance. You deserve more than the sub-optimality you’re now enjoying.
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