The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work and What to Do About It

  • ISBN13: 9780887307287
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Product Description
In this first new and totally revised edition of the over two million copy bestseller, The E-Myth, Michael Gerber dispels the myths surrounding starting your own business and shows how commonplace assumptions can get in the way of running a business. Next, he walks you through the steps in the life of a business -- from entrepreneurial infancy through adolescent growing pains to the mature entrepreneurial perspective: the guiding light of all businesses that succeed -- and shows how to apply the lessons of franchising to any business, whether it is a franchise or not. Finally, Gerber draws the vital, often overlooked distinction between working on your business and working in your business. After you have read The E-Myth Revisited, you will truly be able to grow your business in a predictable and productive way. The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don't Work and What to Do About It

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5 Responses to “The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work and What to Do About It”

  • This book is a guide to success for small business owners. Gerber is the founder of a consulting company for small businesses. In the beginning of the book, Gerber cites the well-known failure-rate statistics for small business: 40% fail in 1 year. Of those who survive 1year, 80% fail in 5 years, and of those who survive 5 years, another 80% fail. Over the years, Gerber has observed that the small business owners who fail often share a number of characteristics, while those who succeed do so not by luck, brains, or perseverance, but by taking a different approach. This book explains the approach that is necessary for a business to survive and thrive.

    One of Gerber’s most striking observations is that most small businesses are started by “technicians”, that is people who are skilled at something and who enjoy doing that thing. (A technician can be anything from a computer programmer to plumber to a dog groomer to a musician or lawyer.) When these technicians strike out on their own, they tend to continue doing the work they are skilled at, and ignore the overarching aspects of business. Without clear goals and quantification benchmarks, they soon find themselves overworked, understaffed, and eventually broke. Worst of all, they may come to hate the work they do. Rather than owning a business, they own a job, and they find themselves working for managers who are completely clueless about how to run a business- -themselves.

    The solution, Gerber argues, is for every business owner, especially the technician-owners, to balance their business personalities. According to Gerber, every business owner needs to simultaneously be an entrepreneur and a manager as well as a technician. The technician is the worker-bee, the one who produces the product. The manager makes sure operations and finances run smoothly and consistently. The entrepreneur formulates the goals, and steers the business in the direction needed to reach those goals. Of these three personalities, the entrepreneur is key- -without it, the technician will work himself or herself to death or bankruptcy. As the business grows, the business owner will need to draw away from the technician work and manager work and delegate this work, rather than abdicate this, to others.

    For turning businesses around, or getting them off the right foot, Gerber suggests looking at franchises as a model. In comparison to the dismal rate of ordinary small-business start-ups, 75% of franchises succeed at 5 years. The reason they succeed is that they are set up so that any unskilled person off the street could walk in, buy a franchise, run all operations in the franchise, and have a fairly good chance of success. The product of franchise companies is a business model, not food, hotel rooms, etc. In order to meet this level of success, franchise companies have clear operations manuals, procedures, consistent sales approaches- -every detail of running the business is specified down to dress codes and wall paper.

    By asking us to consider the franchise approach, Gerber is not saying to go out and buy a franchise license. Instead, he says to imagine that you want to sell your business as a successful franchise within a finite period of time. If so, what will you need to do regarding your business plan and management in order to meet this goal? That is, if you were going to make your business fool-proof so that any unskilled person could take over as owner after a few years and succeed with it, what will you need to do?

    Overall, I found the ideas in this book extremely profound and incredibly useful for my own small-business venture. The writing style can be a bit wordy and choppy at times, which is the only reason why I did not give this book full marks. If you’re a small business owner whose business is out of control, stagnant, or worse, or if you’re thinking of going into business yourself, this book can be of immeasurable value.

    Rating: 4 / 5

  • I would have to rate this is the most influential small business book I have ever read. I’ve been in some kind of business since I was 11 years old and probably further back than that, but I don’t really remember all that. I’ve never held a full-time job in my life. I had one job, and it was part-time. I say that because I hope to present my review from the perspective of the “business battlefield.”

    I first read this book in 1994. I believe it was first published in 1986. The first time I picked it up, I stayed up all night and read it all the way through. I just couldn’t put it down. With that said, I need to point out that if you don’t own a business, never have owned a business or never will, this book probably won’t appeal to you. It will appeal to you if you already own a small business or are planning on opening a business. It may just save your sanity. It’s saved mine.

    Basically, the point of the book is this: “Your business is not your life” (quote from the book). It took me about 4 readings of this book to figure that out. Business owners tend to think working 16 hours a day is some kind of heroic effort. It’s suicide. Been there done that. There’s nothing glamorous about working in your business until you fall over. How, then, does the author propose to solve this problem? How many small business owners don’t work insane hours and are successful? The key according to the author is to make your business into a system like McDonald’s that anyone can run. Too much of a business is dependent on the owner to be there. You’re not there, the business doesn’t make any money. If you’re not there for an extended period of time, you won’t have a business when you come back.

    The key factor in turning a business into a system as the author states, is to have operating manuals which describe each function of the business. One criticism I have of the book, and I suppose he did this on purpose, is that he really doesn’t go into a lot of detail as to how these manuals are done. I guess we have to figure that out. The example in the book about the owner of a pie shop, I felt, was a very good example. I know, because I wrote operating manuals for my business, and I started franchising my business back in 1995. I had 15 offices up and running at one point, and I decided not to pursue it any further, so I pared it all back down. This book works, but you better be prepared to take a really long hard look at how your business is run and particulary how it fits into your life.

    The bottom line on this book is that you can make your business into a system. You can reduce your hours to a reasonable level. Yes, you can even make a good living in your own business. I’ve been doing it for years. The only problem is, you have to do it. You have to sit down, take a good hard look at your business, and get the thing built or rebuilt from the ground up. You need to have all your financial records in order. You need to know at any moment what your operating margins are, what’s going on with everything. It’s a big task, and I suspect many people who have read this book don’t want to do all that. As for my business, I’ve implemented much of what he talks about with great success. I haven’t implemented all of it because some of it is difficult and time consuming. The other problem is, there’s no “step-by-step” method presented, at least not what one would want. There is a methodology to it, but as with most things in life, we have to adapt them to our situation and take the time to do it. The author won’t take you by the hand and do it for you.

    I’m giving this book 5 stars because I think it provides much thought provoking material. If you own a business or are planning on going into business, this book is a must. Even if you ignore most of what he says, it will at least change the way you think about your business. For example, take the total number of hours you work in your business per week, month, year or whatever and divide that by your net business income factoring in expenses that were just for tax purposes. After you do that, find out your hourly wage. I did that, and I was shocked. If you’re working 12-16 hours a day, and you’re making an average income in your business or if you’re breaking even, you’re wasting your time. Take a day off and read this book. It will change your focus dramatically. It’s not an easy process, but if you’re serious about making your business work without you having to work so hard, then this book is worth every penny. Good luck in all your ventures.
    Rating: 5 / 5

  • Anonymous says:

    Despite the pessimistic subtitle, the author of this little book is a champion for the small business owner. As a lawyer representing mainly small businesses, I have seen many businesses that deserved to prosper, run out of capital and luck. This book helps explain why, and offers a constructive mechanism to maximize a business’s chances for success.

    The “e”(for entrepreneur) myth is that hard work and perseverance — plowing ahead against the odds — will alter the statistical odds that doom most new businesses. Gerber uses as an example, a woman who had begun a small bakery business because of her legendary piemaking skills. Since she knew how to bake great pies, shouldn’t it follow that that skill could be the basis for a successful business? Back in the real world, while the business hadn’t exactly failed, it hadn’t exactly succeeded, either. Gerber shows how the overwrought business owner can turn the idea into a successful venture.

    The author advocates looking for guidance to the large franchise model (McDonald’s is an example he cites frequently). The distinctive characteristic of the large franchise-based business is a detailed, finely tuned system that can be run successfully by non-experts. Gerber takes the reader through the steps to create a detailed small business model. Using this system, the business owner is transformed from a day to day operator to a sort of teacher whose success is achieved by training others in detail to use the very skills the owner brought to the business in the first place.

    Few readers will have the time and discipline to adopt the entire soup-to-nuts program advocated in this book, but can still learn a great deal from it.
    Rating: 4 / 5

  • If you own a small business or are considering starting one, put this book at the top of your “must read list.” As a personal coach, I recommend the E-Myth Revisited to our entrepreneurial clients, especially if the business has “taken over the client’s life.”

    Gerber’s E-Myth Revisited offers salient points with the most important being, “Work ON your business not IN it.” We are introduced to three working personalities: 1) the entrepreneur who always has ideas, 2) the manager who keeps everything organized, and 3) the technician who knows that “If it’s going to get done right, I’d better do it myself.” Through the eyes of a business owner/client, Gerber unfolds the story that allows us to see the importance of each personality preference and the necessity for balance between them. We also see the different stages of business growth and come to appreciate the benefits of implementing systems at the beginning of developing a business.

    Humor throughout the book makes this an enjoyable read, and as I tell my clients, savor your chuckles when you find Gerber describing you almost perfectly.
    Rating: 5 / 5

  • Anonymous says:

    I am now using this book as a text for a college level course designed for Information Technology students. I read the original version about 6 years ago when I purchased it for 39 cents at a thrift store. Having been a business systems analyst for many years I used these techniques but never knew it. Now using the messages in this book, I can share techniques that work with others. This book is a practical giude to business problem solving and it can be used to design useful information systems and implement effective training in any size operation. The “Revisited” edition has been enhanced using a case-study approach that makes the message easily understood by any reader. Employers today want more from employees than mere technical proficiency. They want people who can analyze their business and provide viable technical solutions that contribute to a good work environment as well as to bottom line success. This book focuses not only on developing a good business strategy but also on the leadership skills required to develop a business and meet goals. It provides all the steps needed to implement these ideas in the real world. It is an exellent book for the technician, the manager or the entrepreneur. Whether you run or are a part of any business I highly recommend it.
    Rating: 5 / 5

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