Are you an Owner or just a Worker?


A long time ago, we used to live in an “ownership” society. Employees worked at a company and had a vested interest not only in the success of that establishment, but also in the survival of that business. Today the mentality has shifted so far from an “us” mentality to a “me” phenomenon. While there is nothing wrong with that premise as a whole, why not take care of “me” first, on the merits, we find that this could be one of the causes of the modern small business failure.

Entrepreneurship is not always easy. Many entrepreneurs have GREAT ideas, but are awful at implementation. Our current workforce teaches us that we should be specialists in one field of expertise and then use others to build. The only exception to that might be the military, where as a general, you are expected to look well beyond the battle and to not only the entire war, but the aftermath as well. Most workers cannot see past this Friday’s paychecks.

So let’s look at some of the differences, and you can decide if it fits you. We’ll start with the worker. I was always told that every organization has 3 types of workers. A) Comes in early, leaves late, and does far more than what is expected. B) Always on time, does exactly what you expect of them, and punches out on time. C) Comes in late, slacks off at work and of course, often leaves early. Of these three individuals, only two will ever really have any movement in the company, workers A and C. A will often move up and C will often move out, leaving B often wondering, “What happened?”

As the worker, the mindset is on the task at hand. What’s in front of them on their desks. The worker does not care about profit margins, costs, and flow, because that is for the boss to deal with. The worker does not consider the health of the company, only the status of their job safety, often not realizing that the two go hand in hand. I have a student who used to work for a major international company. As a CSR, she would have no interest on whether or not the company was in an $80M lawsuit with another company, because that wasn’t on “her level.” The reality is, how well can we expect customer service to be from an individual who could care less what happens to their organization, only what happens to their job.

When these individuals leave “Corporate America” and startup their own businesses, they often bring the “worker” mentality to that business. It is my belief that this is one of the crippling factors to individuals who have the best of intentions, but the worst of mindset. Let’s look at a few things.

The Business:

After years of working for different organizations, the entrepreneur now begins working for their own business. That is the Worker’s mentality. The Owner’s desire is to make the business work for them. The business earns the Owner money; the Worker earns the business money.


A Worker works for a dollar. An Owner finds ways to make a dollar work for them. The owner is always calculative about what that dollar is doing, whether it’s growing or shrinking. What are the next plans for that dollar and its offspring?


The Worker works on a clock and counts hours. The worker mentality knows how many hours a week has been spent on the business and away from family, friends, and fun. The Owner knows that time is precious and is a commodity, and that time is money. Just like the dollar, the Owner finds ways to make every second of every minute of every hour count. The Owner is always invested in the outcome of their business. As such, the Owner wants the business to earn money even when everyone is sleeping, the lights are off, and the doors are closed. The Owner wants the business to work 24/7/365 so that the Owner doesn’t have to.

The Industry:

The worker has spent years of “look at me” marketing to gain raises and promotions. When the Worker opens a business, their entire marketing strategy reverts back to “look at me!” The Owner knows that the stronger the industry, the stronger the business can be. The Owner creates a need for the industry before a desire for the business to accommodate the need. For example, whether it is Coke or Pepsi, the marketing campaign is for you to drink soda first, and then enjoy the refreshing taste of our product. AT&T for years, with their “reach out and touch someone” campaign, emphasized the need for communication amongst friends and family. Coincidentally, during that time, Sprint, came out with a “Friends and Family” plan. The Owner promotes the industry over the organization, the worker just promotes themselves.


The Worker often only sees the Present and the Past, but instead of seeing future possible outcomes, they only see the paths that are based upon historical movements. The Owner plays chess. The Owner understands that there is no effect without a cause. The Owner uses the Past to make decisions in the Present to determine future Outcomes. The owner knows that every once in a while, bold moves are required. The Worker only wants to play it safe.

Next time you visit Chipotle, compare it to McDonalds (who helped with the national startup of Chipotle) and see the difference in customer service. Chipotle fosters an Ownership environment, which McDonalds fosters a “promotional” environment. If you look at hotels, compare your different “top” brands with that of other hotels. Which ones treat you better? Is it the one where even the house keeping understands that their way of life depends on your comfort, or is it the ones where they are in a rush to be out by 3pm?

In closing I will leave off with this.

The Worker routinely states, “That’s not my job.” The Owner routinely asks, “What is my job?”


About Leighton DaCosta, Photographer

International Wedding, Portrait, and Fashion photographer based in Miramar, Florida. Also a Pilot and a LEAN technician. View all posts by Leighton DaCosta, Photographer

3 responses to “Are you an Owner or just a Worker?

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