I never win anything (seriously). But, there was this one time when I was the lucky recipient of a free copy of Michael Gerber’s book The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Fail. If I could rewind the clock and start my business over I would have done so — armed with this book.
The E-Myth Revisited is a must-read for any new business owner.
If you’re launching a business while working you’re probably focused on how you’re going to get customers and clients to your door, and how you’ll make enough money from your entrepreneurial venture to leave cubicle life.
Fair enough. Those are important issues to sort out.
But, the underlying premise of The E-Myth makes you zone in on the long game. These are the top lessons that I learned from the book:
Most entrepreneurs go from being a technician for their employer to 100% technician in their own business.
This is one huge reason why many small businesses fail. The technician is the doer. But, a successful business requires us to wear three hats: the entrepreneur (the creative visionary/innovators), the manager (the strategic planner and keeper of order) and the technician (the doer/worker).
The entrepreneur lives in the future (what can be), the technician lives in the present (what’s needed now) and the manager focuses in the past (what’s been consistent and has worked). Each role is necessary to our business development. Knowing this important lesson from the outset will help you become more aware of how you approach your business.
Make sure you don’t get so lost in technician-land that you forget to invest in the big picture.
Make time to work on the business and not just in the business.
When you first start out you’ll likely begin with business and strategy planning. But this focus gets lost once you start to actually take on clients and customers. Your inclination will be to spend most of your time serving them while your CEO work lands on the back burner.
However, the CEO work is important in order to set your business up for steady growth and to ensure that you can serve your clients’ absolute, best interests. At the very beginning of my business, I went from doing all CEO work, to all client work to then finding my way back to a happy medium. Once I found that medium and went back to taking care of my business (so I could tend to the client’s business) I saw tremendous progress.
Build the business on systems and not on people.
I repeat: Build the business on systems and not on people. Even though you may not ever plan to franchise your business you need to treat it like one from the start. With a franchise, you have to create processes, workflows and systems that can duplicated by someone at the most basic skill level. Most small businesses (including myself) start out building a business based on the assumption that you will always be the doer – a key person involved in the operations of the business.
If you have an assistant or other support, you may lean on really developing their skills so they can perform well and forget to focus on documenting the system itself. But, what if you need to take a sudden leave from the business? If it can’t run without you, it’s a broken (and vulnerable) system. What if your assistant suddenly leaves? Can you quickly put someone else in her position?
On the flip side…
But, what if you start from the very beginning developing a business that you can run from anywhere in the world? A business that gives you wiggle room to take stress-free time off? What if you can actually build in vacation time because you know you’ve set up a system that will take good care of your clients? What if you can actually experience the freedom that led you to entrepreneurship in the first place?
That sounds like a damn good place to be… and it’s possible.
You hold the power to mold your future. This is the beauty of entrepreneurship.
The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Fail is the one book that I wish I read before starting my entrepreneurial journey. I think it’s a must-read for all entrepreneurs but especially for those launching while working.