Simply put, an engine is a machine for converting energy (fuel) into motion. And an engineer is a person who designs, operates and oversees an engine.

Most business owners start out expect to be all three: fuel, engine & engineer for their startup. We bootstrap, use sweat equity, and “build the plane as we fly it” all in the hopes that little by little we find other sources of fuel to create motion within our business and build a sturdy engine to generate the profit & lifestyle we envision. We start generating cash, hiring a team, sourcing vendors, creating structure, investing in capital, etc.

The ultimate goal of all this hard work is to become the engineer or the person who designs, operates & oversees; but all too often business owners get stuck. We get stuck in a variety of ways.

Worst case, a business owner never graduates from being the fuel. Meaning they are consumed on a regular basis by their business. We’ve all met this person. They are tired, resentful, and often times can’t remember why they went into business in the first place. Their business may or may not look like a success on the outside, but when you pull back the curtain this owner is most likely experiencing:

  • Burnout
  • Personal relationship deterioration
  • Health problems
  • Anxiety and depression
  • Feelings of hopelessness
  • Resentment
  • Slipping follow through on commitments to clients & friends

Many business owners we meet within our business are at the next level. They are no longer the fuel, but they are very much the engine. Meaning they haven’t created & developed the structure, processes and people to build a solid engine of a business. This is often referred to as Founder’s Syndrome. In my experience, companies between $1M – $5M in revenue that haven’t been able to grow further are almost always suffering from Founder’s Syndrome.   These businesses almost always look like a success from the outside. However, when you pull back the curtain these are the types of symptoms we see:

  • Owner burnout
  • High employee turnover
  • Dwindling profit
  • Stagnant sales
  • Client attrition increasing
  • Grapevine gossip is rampant
  • Leader/employee relationship deterioration
  • Command & control leadership style

Most business owners should ultimately move to the engineer role within their business. If an owner can get here, the sky is the limit. This is where owner lifestyle, profits, company culture, business purpose and client satisfaction soar. This owner & business often experience:

  • Increased sense of purpose
  • Highly effective teams
  • Growing revenue & profit
  • Performance transparency & financial reward
  • Work/life balance for owner AND employees
  • Clients/customers become raving fans
  • Clear structures and frameworks that create autonomy
  • Collaborative and innovative culture
  • Low employee turnover
  • Healthy cash flow


Now that I’ve beaten you up a bit, let’s talk about how to move from being consumed by your business to being the overseer of your business. As a business owner it is natural to feel responsible for every decision and every outcome. Yet, the only way for you and your business to grow is for you to work “on” and not “in” your business every day. In her new book, The Prosperity Playbook, our CEO Mackey McNeill, details her system for moving from “in” to “on”. We call it GIRST (sounds sexy, right?). GIRST is a tool to help a business owner focus their activities, roles & duties. GIRST stands for:

  • TEST

Just click here to download an excerpt from The Prosperity Playbook on how to use the GIRST system for yourself.

Once you are clear on who you want to be for your business everything else about your business becomes a little clearer. As a business owner you have given more of yourself than you ever imagined to your business to get it where it is today. Don’t you think it is time start getting more in return?