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The “Owner” Mentality v. The “Employee” Mentality


Every business is comprised of two general types of mentalities: The owner mentality and the employee mentality. Every business needs both to operate in the short term and prosper in the long term. Not every employee has an “employee mentality” and not every owner has an “owner’s mentality.” A business will thrive when employees have an owner’s mentality. A business will generally not succeed when the owners have an employee mentality. So, what’s the difference? If you don’t know, you probably have the employee’s mentality, even if you think you have an owner’s mentality.

The difference may be best described as the difference between a startup and an established business. Do you have an IBM mentality or a startup mentality? At an established business, such as IBM, every owner and employee know they are going to receive a paycheck every week no matter how the business performs. At a startup, however, neither an owner nor an employee know when their next check may come.

At IBM, an account executive may not even return the call of a potential client she deems “small” and not worth her time. At a startup, you will return every call, even if it won’t immediately add to your bottom line. At a startup, every potential contact is important because you never know how that contact will help your business in the long term.

As an owner, how do you identify the differences in mentality of your employees?

The employee plans his week; the owner plans the next five years. The employee’s mentality worries about what she will earn in the current year; the owner’s mentality plans for retirement.

The employee is on vacation splashing around at the beach without a care in the world; the owner is explaining to his wife why he must provide exceptional customer service even though he is on a vacation or it is a holiday.

One who has an owner’s mentality freely assists his colleagues, knowing that any business is only as good as its weakest link. The employee mentality is territorial and fears being replaced if he teaches someone his skills. The employee complains there are no paper clips; the owner goes and gets them. The employee identifies problems; the owner seeks solutions.

The employee mentality believes it makes sense to leave at 4:00 to beat 5:00 traffic; the owner mentality works another two hours and waits until 6:00 after traffic. The owner’s mentality treats the company’s funds as his own. The employee’s mentality does not look at how he may save the business money or avoid unnecessary expenses.

Even if there isn’t any work to do, the owner mentality is still at the office over the weekend, reading articles and scouring the internet for ideas to grow his business; the employee mentality is sitting at the pool struggling to decide whether to have a daiquiri or margarita.

In sum, the owner mentality wrote this blog and the employee mentality is wondering why?

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