Expander vs. Contractor

Oct 19, 2011

I remember when I was at Ali Brown’s Shine event back in 2009 – one of her guest speakers was Real Estate Mogul Barbara Corcoran. There were many things I loved about Barbara’s presentation (that woman is a hoot!) however the one thing that really stuck with me was this.

Everyone business needs two people – an Expander and a Contractor.

The Expander is the one with the big ideas, the one with the vision. The Expander tends to live in the future, with visions of what is possible running through their mind. Generally this is the business owner/founder – they have a passion that they want to see come to life.

The Contractor is the person who brings the “how” to the table, the one who knows what it takes to get stuff done. The Contractor lives in the now and brings a strong understanding of what it will require to accomplish the ideas/vision that the Expander has. This is generally someone who is hired to work for the business – could be an Online Business Manager, an Ops Manager or even a really strong VA (or other titles of course depending on the type of business you have.)

And what I love is this – for a business to truly thrive the Expander and the Contractor need to work hand in hand.

  • The Expander could come up with all the brilliant ideas in the world, but if they don’t have someone to plan in out and make it happen then they never come to life.
  • Likewise, if someone is a Contractor they might be awesome at getting stuff done – but if they don’t have any kind of great vision to work on then their efforts go to waste.

An example of how  I’ve seen the Expander/Contractor relationship work:

The entrepreneur (Expander) wakes up one day with a brilliant idea for a new program. They hop on the phone to their business manager (Contractor) and say “Guess what? I just had this awesome idea… I want to do X and i’m thinking we launch it next month, this is going to rock the world!” Their business manager replies, “That’s great, I love that idea and i’m also aware of how much we have going on right now. We are already working on launching Y for next month, so how does this fit into our current plan? Do we need to reprioritize anything?”

[Sidenote: Can you see how the Contractor is bringing a reality check in here, while at the same time still really honoring how excited the biz owner is – a good Contractor doesn’t deflate the Expander’s passion.]

The entrepreneur says “Yea, you are right… I forgot we already had Y planned for next month. So when can we fit this next program in?” To which the Contractor replies, “Well I know it would take 2-3 months for us to really prepare and launch this correctly. How about I take a look at our overall plan and see where this fits in best and I can get back to you when we chat next week?”

Isn’t that cool? When this relationship is in place there is a great balance between passion & reality – both of which are essential in business.

So let me ask you, which one are you? I was actually a Contractor for many years when I was an Online Business Manager for my clients, but as my business has evolved into  the coaching/training work that I do I find i’m more of an Expander these days.


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