I’m writing a business plan and my business coach suggested I read Michael Gerber‘s E-Myth Revisited. I have to say I’m somewhat disappointed. Not that the information is bad, but it seems pretty obvious to me. The gist of the entire book is simply that starting and running a business doing X (whatever X is) is very different than just doing X. Running a successful business requires a whole different set of skills that many folks who simply don’t want to work for someone else don’t possess. Gerber also suggests a system for running a business that he thinks will make any successful (or at least a great portion of them).
Anyway, to save folks the money, I’ll summarize the salient points of each chapter right here:
- The Entrepreneurial Myth
- Most small businesses fail. Most of those fail because they are run by people who decided to open a business mostly because they just didn’t want to work for the man anymore.
- The Entrepreneur, the Manager, and the Technician
- Each successful business requires someone who dreams, someone who says
no, and someone who does the stuff the other two agree on.
- Infancy: The Technician’s Phase
- Early on, a person can do everything, but it quickly blossoms into a lot of work besides just doing the work.
- Adolescence: Getting Some Help
- When the work becomes too much, simply dumping the work on someone else and ignoring it is a recipe for failure.
- Beyond the Comfort Zone
- When they run into trouble, start-ups either try go back to being small or going for broke. Or sometimes they eke out a frustrating existence.
- Maturity and the Entrepreneurial Perspective
- Mature businesses are all about having a vision and directing the business toward that vision. It’s all about the big picture and setting up systems that move toward that.
- The Turn-Key Revolution
- McDonald’s and other franchises have it figured out. Their system works no matter who runs and operates it.
- The Franchise Prototype
- The prototype is the
perfectbusiness, in that it is trying to set up repeatable systems that can be copied lock & stock to other stores and be successful. Successful business prototypes are looking to create a repeatable system. These are the successful businesses.
- Working On Your Business, Not In It
- Your job is to create the repeatable systems at all levels.
- The Business Development Process
- Three things: innovation (try new things), quantification (measure everything so you can see if the innovation improves things), and orchestration (turn the innovation into something repeatable, with no choice allowed in the business operation).
The rest of the book describes the various levels within the business that the business development process described above can be implemented: Organization, Management, People, Marketing, Systems (Operations).
So, not necessarily bad. But it wasn’t so useful either. A large part of that is that at least half the pages of this short book are devoted to a fictional case study that is constructed to illustrate the authors program rather than something that actually happened. In other words, it’s a composite. And so everything in it matches up perfectly with Gerber’s theses. In addition, the case study is described by fictional conversations between Gerber and a mythical Sarah rather than simply stating the facts, problems, and solutions. For me, this seemed to fluff up the illustration and made it the sugar of case studies: empty calories.
Anyway, what came to mind a lot while reading this was the Davis book on dyslexia, where the book seemed mostly to be generalities geared toward getting you to purchase training and services from his company. I can’t put my finger on what makes them similar beyond that, but I definitely got that feel.
Fairly soon I’ll finish the second half of The Reality Dysfunction which I’m finding at least mostly enjoyable.