Today I had the pleasure of interviewing serial entrepreneur Brent Bishop, chairman of one of my favorite companies–the hip and whimsical kid’s brand, Naartjie, and also chairman of the web security software company, Content Watch. He's also the co-founder of Franklin Covey (formerly Franklin Quest) and the founder of Greenbacks All-a-Dollar (1991), where he served as CEO and, over a 12-year period, was responsible for growing the company from one to 100 retail stores in 10 states before the company was sold to Dollar Tree in July 2003 for more than $100 million. When it comes to entrepreneurship, you’d probably agree with me that Brent knows what he’s talking about!
I originally met Brent when I was trying to get my own retail concept off the ground a couple of years ago, and he generously mentored me and advised me on the concept and business model. I didn’t end up developing the company past a holiday kiosk, but I learned to respect even more for what he has accomplished and what he’s creating now. Today’s conversation centered around faith and entrepreneurship but before we discussed that topic Brent wanted me to understand two fundamental “types” of entrepreneurs.
The first type of entrepreneur is the Visionary, who sees the whole world as a field of opportunities and has all sorts of ideas for how to solve problems or improve things. The second type of entrepreneur has spent most of their career in corporate operations with formal training.
Brent acknowledged that most CEOs of large companies are the visionary types–while the COO’s they hire are the operational types. The trick for the small business owner is that you might be naturally “visionary” or naturally “operational” but you have to be both if you are to get it past the first stages with a bootstrapping budget, etc. Or, if you’d prefer, you need to find a partner who has the skill sets you need and then the trick is the work together to stay true to the vision you create.
I’ve always been the ‘Visionary’ entrepreneur and as much as I want to be the ‘Operational’ type, I’m just not ... so it was a total miracle when I met Michelle McCullough last year and she was interested in coming on board to our company to run the operational aspects of our company and oversee events, etc. We’re an awesome partnership if I do say so myself! I really appreciate having her support and expertise.
What are your thoughts on this? Are you the Visionary or Operational Entrepreneur? Or have you figured out how to be both?