In the Founder and Farmer phases of entrepreneurship, business owners build their business.
In the Tinker phase, the entrepreneur builds themselves.
As their business grows, the entrepreneur must evolve as a leader and thinker. Through Founder and Farmer phases, those steps to growth are well-worn and clear. We can clearly say “this is step one,” and “this is step two”; we know that A must come before B. But as the business grows, it becomes more complex. Variables multiply the challenges of ownership. And most of these variables involve interpersonal relationships.
The entrepreneur benefits from her success, but also recognizes that her job has changed. She’s no longer the one cutting the hair, writing the workouts, or making the donuts; now she’s managing the people doing those things. And that’s a completely different skillset.
The complexity of higher-level problems also requires a higher tolerance for stress; a greater ability to focus and take action. These are the tools Tinkers build.
Reaching the Tinker phase is a success. But it doesn’t mean that problems have all gone away; it means that problems have changed. That’s what our Tinker program addresses: the problems of the evolving entrepreneur.
One of the most common phrases I heard after last weekend’s Tinker meetup was “In the Incubator and Growth phases, I worked on my business. In Tinker, I’m working on myself.” Every entrepreneur needs to develop their leadership skills. Processes and tactics are enough in Founder and Farmer phases; but when you reach Tinker, there’s nowhere left to hide.