What Fun with Dick and Jane is to preschoolers The E-Myth Revisited by Michael Gerber is to any budding Entrepreneur.
Not because It’s a simple book but because it is foundational to the success of business owners wanting to turn their enterprise into an actual business and not just a glorified job. Here is the natural evolution of most businesses: An over the top worker is told by his peers “you ought to have your own business” over and over again. One night he or she talks with their partner “honey I’ve been thinking…”. Boom another business is created. Over the Top Worker is now Over the Top Business Owner. Except it’s not really Over the Top Business owner it’s Over stressed, Over Worked, Over Frustrated Business Owner! Why? The Beautician, Plumber, Web Designer, Electrician, Cable installer, HR Clerk was a Flaming Rock Star in their field. They have accolades from their peer’s, bonuses from their bosses, praise from their competitors. Why? Why does this NOT translate to Rock Star Business owner? It just doesn’t make any sense. Every business owner has had to ask that question in one phase of their business venture. Enter Michael Gerber. The Col. Tom Parker (Elvis’ Manager) of the business world.
The E-Myth mantra is this: Work ON your business NOT in it. Sounds simple, right? Try it. Hardest discipline imaginable. Gerber explains “What happens when there is a problem in the business? Tech calls in sick Big Customer A needs help. What does Business Owner do? Well she tucks her hair dryer in her belt and like the Lone Ranger jumps on Silver and off she goes into the wild blue yonder to save her company from failing by coming to the rescue. Blow dry’s the customer hair and saves the customer and her business at the same time. Plus, she feels great because she got to do what she does best. Problem? Well Gerber says what did that Business Owner make on that transaction? $50.00? Her CEO salary is now reduced to the amount she would have paid the sick tech. Every time a business owner works IN their Business and not ON their Business they lose money. Each and Every time. Business owners are no longer technicians they are business owners. His suggestion? Have the beautician own the Motorcycle shop and the leather clad biker own the beauty shop. Why? Because neither can work IN their business they would be forced to work ON their business.
According the Department of Commerce 80% of all small business fail in the first 5 years and 40% of them in the first year! Why? Gerber claims it is because the owner works in the business not on it. Secondly, even if you are the only employee you still have multiple departments. Sales, Marketing, Invoicing, delivery, support, etc. Each one needs to be documented so when employee # 2 comes along there is a written manual on how YOU want it done.
There are many good business books. The Richest Man in Babylon, How to Win Friends and Influence People, Think and Grow Rich, Good to Great, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Start with Why, See you at the Top, Purple Cow. But in my opinion the bible of small business is The E-Myth. I’ve owned 9 companies in my Entrepreneurial Journey and I can honestly say that I am a proud disciple of Michael Gerber’s E-Myth.
-Guest Contributer George Gara, President, Surveillance Solutions