Why Entrepreneurs…and Academics Cannot Manage


Why Academics…and Entrepreneurs Can’t Manage

Entrepreneurs and Academics are typically poor managers. Not only because they might lack a particular skill set, but because of the expectation of vocational perfection. They share the passion for the perfect in their products. But to understand and practice management, a “batting-average” model of non-perfection is needed.

There is a fundamental difference between the work of the individual contributor and the contribution of a manager. The entrepreneur, as an individual contributor, brings a new vision for a new product or service. But introducing the New Next Big Thing requires basic management.

The teacher and new-product visionary are individual contributors whose work is the creation of “perfection.” But management does not — must not — deal only in this perfection. Because it is the managerial skill set which brings the individual contributor’s perfect product to market to do business.

The entrepreneur as individual contributor understands the basic formula:

work = results

But the teacher working with the individual contributor, who needs to become a manager, must emphasize that work alone will not have the world beat a path to the inventor’s door.

Management has a more complicated formula with an additional variable: Network. This ‘Network of Support’ is the ability of the entrepreneur as manager to get the support of investors, advisors, external stakeholders, customer, staffers and subordinates.

The entrepreneur should see his role as manager with a new formula:

Work + Network = Results

The results and success of the entrepreneur’s venture depends as much on his ability to manage as his brilliance in new product creation.


Jack Yoest is an Adjunct Professor at the Northern Virginia Community College and is president of Management Training of DC, LLC. He worked with Menlo Care, a start-up medical device manufacturer as part of a team that moved sales from zero to over $12 million, resulting in a buy-out by Johnson & Johnson.

He also served as Assistant Secretary for Health and Human Resources in Virginia, where he was responsible for the successful Year 2000 conversion for the $5 billion, 16,000-employee unit.

Jack has been published by Scripps-Howard News Service and has contributed to Small Business Trends, Small Business Trends Radio, The Business Monthly, Business & Media Institute and National Review Online.

His web-log was nominated for Best Business Blog in 2006. Jack is a former Captain in the Army.

He earned an MBA from George Mason University and completed graduate work in the International Operations Management Program at Oxford University. Jack and Charmaine Yoest, Ph.D., live near the Nation’s Capital with their five children.

aka: Your Business Blogger(R)


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