m

Get your business to the new heights in no time. It’s super easy with Digitales.

 

follow us

 > Blog  > Technician, Manager, Entrepreneur?

Technician, Manager, Entrepreneur?

To make better hires at a digital marketing agency has always been a challenging job. An agency churns out trained products (on-job) every 9 months and for boutique size agencies, it becomes impossible to hire a trained resource from market. Hence everything boils down to hiring and understanding personality types that are helpful in understanding how different people react differently in similar situations.

Your natural tendency (whether Technician, Manager, or Entrepreneur) makes a big difference in how you tend to delegate (whether well or poorly), whether you’re going to be more or less happy at work (based on how you’ve structured your job now)… and whether your marketing agency is still going to be around 5-10 years from now.

Know that if you’ve structured your day-to-day job in a way that’s contrary to your natural preference, you’re going to be unhappy—and you won’t know why. And you may be on track to slowly (or quickly) go out of business.

The ideal marketing agency is a mixture of Manager and Entrepreneur.

Ideal Marketing Agency

Ideal Marketing Agency

Entrepreneurs are thinking into the future—years and decades from today

While the Technician is focusing on finishing their tasks for today and the Manager is focusing on planning for next month, an Entrepreneur is thinking about what his or her company is doing five or ten years from now.

Where a Manager at a digital marketing agency might be figuring out how to deliver faster Web 2.0 sites for clients, an Entrepreneur at a digital marketing agency is thinking about how to monetize Web 3.0.

Technician-Manager-Entrepreneur model

Your natural tendency (whether Technician, Manager, or Entrepreneur) makes a big difference in how you tend to delegate (whether well or poorly), whether you’re going to be more or less happy at work (based on how you’ve structured your job)… and whether your organization is still going to be around 5-10 years from now.

The ideal marketing agency is a mixture of Manager and Entrepreneur.

What’s the “Technician” type?

Technicians focus on today, and the next minute, and the next hour. Technicians are good at—and love doing—their particular skill all day long. For example:

  • A plumber might be great at soldering pipes and installing fixtures.
  • A family practice doctor might love diagnosing illnesses.
  • A marketing strategist could be happy creating marketing plans all day long.

It’s not about blue collar vs. white collar—under the Technician-Manager-Entrepreneur model, Technicians are the people who are into the hands-on aspect of what they do.

  • Every Agency needs Technicians

Every marketing agency needs Technicians, because Technicians are typically the ones delivering the thing the company sells—manufacturing widgets, coming up with advice, or working the billable hours that most agencies use to charge their clients (until they eventually switch to value-based pricing).

  • Typical “Technician” roles at a marketing agency

At a marketing agency, typical Technician roles include Designer, Developer, Copywriter, and Strategist. Again, it’s not about blue collar vs. white collar—it’s about being the person who’s doing what the company sells.

  • Technicians are highly billable

Your Technicians are likely billing 60-90% of their time to your agency’s clients.

The exact amount depends on how you’ve structured their role—including how much time you have them spending on internal meetings, sales support, and agency self-marketing. But ultimately, you hire Technicians because they’re going to do client-facing work and bring in more revenue for your agency.

What’s the “Manager” type?

If you’re naturally the Manager type, you like focusing on tomorrow, and next week, and next quarter. Managers love keeping things running efficiently. They love keeping things organized. Their goal is to optimize a team to work effectively, without feeling like they need to personally do every hour of billable works themselves.

They’re likely not as good at doing what Technicians do, but that’s completely OK—Managers are there to align resources to help the Technicians produce better work. Managers should understand at least the basics of what Technicians do (enough so they can manage them), but Managers don’t have to be experts at the specific “doing.”

  • Typical “Manager” roles at a marketing agency

At a marketing agency, typical Manager roles include Project Manager, Creative Director, Development Lead, Operations Manager, and COO. They’re doing things like scheduling, providing mentoring feedback to junior staff members, and ensuring clients get invoiced for the work the Technicians did.

Managers are inherently less billable than Technicians (and may not bill at all)

From a billable perspective at a marketing agency, a Manager may be billing 0-60% of their time.

Client-facing manager roles tend to bill more, since things like project management, creative direction, and development coordination are easily billable, whereas internal operations are less billable. Clients get unhappy if they realize you’re charging them to send them their invoice.

This billable percentage also tends to decline as agencies get bigger and can afford more overhead, rather than drafting operations people to do billable work here and there to help cover their salaries.

  • Managers and Technicians don’t spend their day the same way

Once an agency gets above 5-7 people, a Creative Director should not spend all of his/her day in Photoshop or Illustrator.

Their job is to get great results from junior designers and copywriters, to create marketing strategies for clients, to persuade clients that the agency’s recommendations are right for them, and to help bring in new clients.

Once there are enough billable people working under them, a Manager-minded Creative Director might spend just 10-20% of their week in Adobe Creative Suite or writing client copy in their word processor of choice.

Managers spend a lot of their day in internal and external meetings. Some managers complain about meetings (and indeed, many meetings are unnecessary). But for a Manager, being in most meetings is working. Meetings are work (especially when they’re leading the meetings) because it’s a Manager’s job to coordinate people and monitor their progress.

  • The blind spot for a Manager: Seeing into the future

Yet the Manager type has an inherent blind spot. Although they’re great at delegating to maximize efficiency, Managers are not necessarily thinking into the future—for instance, they might optimize how the company produces something that’s no longer relevant.

What’s the “Entrepreneur” type?

Entrepreneurs are focused on the future. Entrepreneurs see things that don’t exist today, or that combine existing things in new ways. They’re good at rallying people to follow them, even when the destination is unclear.

In its purest form, the Entrepreneur type will have the lowest billable at their marketing agency, because they’re investing for the future by doing entirely non-billable work.

Entrepreneurs are thinking into the future—years and decades from today

While the Technician is focusing on finishing their tasks for today and the Manager is focusing on planning for next month, an Entrepreneur is thinking about what his or her company is doing five or ten years from now.

Entrepreneurs aren’t just thinking about new products, they’re thinking about new partnerships they can create, and they’re meeting with people outside the company who can make that happen—advisers, business contacts, and future partners. And they’re getting feedback from clients to identify new business opportunities, beyond what’s in the current project or retainer contracts.

Gerber also talks about how small businesses should act as if they were going to “franchise” their business (that is, systematize their business model so that anyone could replicate it with a basic level of training). Managers might implement the systematization, but Entrepreneurs are the ones promoting the importance of creating a modular system.

  • Entrepreneur-less companies grow stagnant… or die

A marketing agency without an Entrepreneur pushing them toward the future will either become stagnant… or die.

You’ve seen those agencies yourself—the ones who still tout their Flash skills or who build database-driven sites in an outdated scripting language instead of PHP, ASP, or Ruby. They’re comfortable doing things the way they’ve been doing them, and they’re probably pretty efficient at doing it… but the world’s moved on and they’re in the same place.

Entrepreneurs can still be Managers, too… if they divide their time wisely

Can a Manager think like an Entrepreneur? Well, yes —if they block out their time appropriately, by reserving “Entrepreneur time” for thinking about the future, meeting with people that have a very long-term ROI, and having non-billable meetings with clients to learn about the clients’ still-murky unmet needs.

Many smaller agencies can’t afford for the CEO to spend all day thinking about the future. Point totally taken! But you can block out time (for instance, several days a few times a year) to unplug from the daily grind to think about the future.

How can you tell whether you prefer to be a Technician, Manager, or Entrepreneur?

Look at the examples described above. Which resonates most?

If you prefer day-to-day “doing”…

If you like the day-to-day doing, you may naturally prefer to be a Technician.

This is good for billables, but bad for keeping your company organized. You’ll need to accept that you need to spend less time doing and more time managing, or else consider whether you need to delegate management or go back to working as an employee again.

If you prefer organizing others and optimizing the agency…

If you like organizing teams and maximizing efficiency, you may naturally be a Manager.

If you prefer thinking about where you’ll be a decade from now…

If you prefer thinking about the distant future and aren’t as concerned about day-to-day doing or organizing, you may naturally be an Entrepreneur.

That’s good from a long-term perspective, but one needs to be sure to recruit Technicians to do billable work and Managers to handle operations details so one doesn’t inadvertently go out of business a few months from now.

Be honest with yourself. If you want to spend 80% of your day working in Creative Suite, creating marketing strategies, doing AdWords keyword research, or tweaking CSS, you should consider working as an employee at someone else’s marketing agency rather than running your own—or else bring in people to handle the Manager and Entrepreneur work.

Next steps: What’s your biggest lesson as an agency?

Technician Manager or Entrepreneur

Technician Manager or Entrepreneur

As mentioned at the beginning, the ideal marketing agency combines a mixture of Manager and Entrepreneur mindsets.

If you’re mostly a Technician, that’s not automatically a problem, if you opt to delegate. A key factor comes down to how much time you want/need to spend doing day-to-day execution—if you want to do Technician work while continuing to own the process, you’ll need to recruit people to help.

If you’re mostly a Manager, you’ll need Technicians to do billable work, and someone to remind you about regularly making time to think like an Entrepreneur.

If you’re mostly an Entrepreneur, you need the Technicians for billable work, plus someone to handle day-to-day Managers’ work to keep things running smoothly.

Post A Comment