In the Tinker Phase, an entrepreneur spends less time working on their company and more time working on themselves.


(Not sure which phase of entrepreneurship you’re in? Take the test here.)


Many believe that a Tinker is therefore already successful. In my book, “Founder, Farmer, Tinker, Thief”, I give this checklist at the end of the Farmer section.


Have you hired an “administrator” to oversee the client journey?

Have you begun managing staff instead of performing frontline duties?

Have you done an energy audit?

Have you launched at least one opportunity for intrapreneurship?

Have you hired at least one replacement for yourself in your primary service?

Have you done the “apples” and “weeds” client exercise?

Have you fired one “weed” client?

Have you started hosting regular staff meetings?

Have you begun to extend your marketing to people you don’t yet know?

Have you started a retention strategy and taught it to your staff?

Have you budgeted for a staff development program?

Have you begun evaluating your staff quarterly?

Have you reached 33 percent gross profit margin?

Have you started tracking your enhanced metrics: leads, conversion rate, and revenue streams?

Have you started doing any paid lead generation?

Have you started attending a coached fitness program?


Many entrepreneurs in the Farmer Phase will read that list and think, “Oh, I can tick most of those boxes, but not all. I’m not ready for Tinker-level mentorship yet.”


But the test is really there to pull you toward Tinker Phase, instead of stopping you from reaching it.


First, the test will reveal your priorities. If you can check off half of the items on the list, that’s a great start. Now use the remaining items to get you some clarity. Where should you focus your CEO time? On the Tinker list boxes you haven’t checked.


Second, here’s the real secret of the Tinker group at Two-Brain: most of them can’t tick off everything on the Tinker List above. They’re in the group because they want others to PULL them forward instead of PUSHING themselves all the time.


For example, many Tinkers struggle to hire a General Manager for their business. It’s an expensive role, and usually the first managerial hire. So many Farmers will think, “Well, that’s the stuff that I do. If I hire someone for that role, what will I do all day?” But when they surround themselves with Tinkers, the Farmer will quickly see the larger opportunities to grow their company; start a new company; or duplicate what they already have.


As a Tinker myself, I can attest to this exact issue. I was checking client payments, reviewing staff calendars, ordering supplies…I was the gear that turned all of the other gears in the machine. My mentor told me to hire a COO. I took the financial leap, freed myself from operational tasks, and focused on writing more. My company literally doubled in size the next year. My Farmer problem was holding me back, but I had to see the Tinker opportunities before I would act to fix it.


The best thing you can do to reach Tinker Phase, achieve time and financial freedom, and grow as a leader is to surround yourself with other Tinkers.


Our Tinker Group is growing. The next Tinker meetup is in Chicago in June. Want to ask about it? Talk to our Tinker Mentor here.