I have a fun exercise that I’ve developed for business owners. It’s similar to the discussion of varied roles you have in life: worker, leader, parent, participant in a group, and so on.

But this is a little different.

I’ll help the client to realize that there are different personalities going on: owner, primary employee, sales person, chief financial officer, and so on. This can be a whole lot of “people” bundled into one for someone who is a solopreneur or has a very small company.

There’s one important “person” left out of that list, though: the business itself.

Yes, the business has its own personality, tightly tied to the company’s mission and goals. That includes even basic things like: the business wants to survive. It wants to continue prospering, serving customers, paying employees what they deserve, and so on.

This is a distinctly different personality from the business owner, as it turns out. There is surely some overlap, but here are some things I often find are different:

  • The business owner is getting worn out, but the business itself cares about that less than growing and prospering.
  • The business is typically more hard-nosed focused on the numbers. It has less patience for all that soft and fluffy “human” stuff.
  • Interestingly, I’ve seen cases where the owner is short-term focused while the business is more long-term, or the reverse. But it’s often different.

Yes, this is a weird way of thinking. But it’s also a little playful, because we all know that we’re talking about a split personality that isn’t actually true.

I’ll often help my clients to have a conversation between these two parts of their brain. I’ll set up three chairs: one for me, one for the owner, one for the business. Then I’ll ask the owner question about how the business “thinks,” and they’re often surprised at the answers which pop up.

Then I’ll move that person over to the business’ chair, and have them answer questions about the owner. I’ve never had a case where deep insight didn’t result from this exercise.

So for you … what are the different personalities battling in your head? How can we help them to get more on the same page?