“[The E-Myth] is the mistaken belief that the vast majority of people who go into business in this country are entrepreneurs . . . [In fact] they are technicians suffering from entrepreneurial seizures, and that’s the problem with their businesses.”
-Michael Gerber, 1987
In The E-Myth Revisited, business development guru Michael Gerber speaks to all business owners who have ever felt like there must be something that successful business owners know – that they don’t.
He speaks to business owners who are frustrated by inadequate income and lack of “good people.” He addresses business owners who find their businesses unmanageable, unpredictable, and unrewarding. He relates to business owners who assumed that being good at the technical work of a business would automatically make them capable of running a business that does that work.
Phase 1 is “Infancy: The Technician’s Phase.” In this phase, the owner does the technical work . . . and the bookkeeping, and the shipping, and the cleaning, and the marketing and sales.
If the business doesn’t fold in Phase 1, it enters Phase 2 – “Adolescence: Getting Some Help.” When he/she gets help (read: hires employees), the business owner then has personnel issues to deal with, and is faced with the need to generate more business to support the employees he or she has hired. So, the business owner finds him/herself in Phase 3 – “Beyond the Comfort Zone.”
And if the owner does not decide to “shrink” the business back to a more manageable size at this point, he/she moves on to Phase 4 – “Maturity and Entrepreneurial Perspective.” Here, the vision for the business is clearly defined, and there is a systematic way of conducting business. Finally, the owner has the free time and economic freedom he or she dreamed of when the business began.
So, how do you – the overworked technician – reach entrepreneurial maturity?
Gerber says you must look at your business in a new way. By looking at your business as a product that you’re trying to perfect, you can begin to work ON your business rather than IN it.
The second half of The E-Myth Revisited explains the process of bringing a business out of chaos, and achieving the balance needed to make it successful. The three keys are innovation – interacting with customers in a way that will set the business apart; quantification – measuring how well innovations work; and orchestration – systematizing what works so that it’s done the same way every time (by anyone).
The ideas presented in Gerber’s book are extremely practical and can be applied to businesses of almost any size and type. But, the first and most important thing to realize is that “every great entrepreneur knows what he doesn’t know. He knows enough to get help – to get the expertise he doesn’t and shouldn’t be expected to have.”
Reading The E Myth Revisited might be the first step to reclaiming the dream of business ownership.