Michael Gerber was Correct. But…
Michael Gerber’s 1988 book, The E-Myth, is recommended reading for all entrepreneurial business owners. The sequel, The E-Myth Revisited, is the more valuable read. If you’ve not read these or need a review, here is my brief summation.
The E-Myth: A Summary
Gerber introduces the concept that a business owner wears three hats: The technician, the manager and the entrepreneur. The typical entrepreneur goes into business to pursue their passion doing something he or she is technically competent and comfortable doing. Gerber exposes the entrepreneurial myth that successful growth in an entrepreneurial venture is not so much about the joy of performing the technical tasks that the owner envisioned at start-up . Rather, success is more about the owner’s effectiveness wearing and balancing the other two hats of the manager and the entrepreneur.
In The E-Myth, Mr. Gerber suggests that successful growth is facilitated by the owner viewing the business as a potential franchise. In doing so, he or she would focus on refining and standardizing all of their business processes so that employees are able to perform all of the functions and, potentially, the business can run itself.
Changing the Entrepreneur’s Mindset
For most Entrepreneurs, the challenge in succeeding with Gerber’s E-Myth concepts is not understanding them, but improving the skills and changing habitual behaviors required to execute. Let’s examine why.
Common Attitudes of the Start-Up Entrepreneur
In early stages of entrepreneurial growth, the necessities of survival often dictate a Spartan existence as chief cook and bottle washer. This stage of existence establishes some attitudes and behaviors that can cripple an entrepreneur’s ability to grow.
An Entrepreneurs’ Nine Most Limiting Beliefs
- It’s quicker if I do it myself.
- They’ll never be able to do this as well as I do.
- Once we get to (x number of) employees, it’s just too difficult to manage. I don’t ever want to get that big.
- No job is too big or too small. We’ll work with anyone that can pay us.
- I can never get my people to work with the same conviction and dedication that I have.
- Most employees are basically unmotivated and dishonest.
- My vision and business plan are in my head. There’s no need to take the time to write it all down.
- We need to be the best in our industry at everything we do: Quality, Service and Price.
- I have no choice but to walk in each morning and go where the winds of the business take me.
How many of the above sentiments are self-fulfilling? How many are really conducive to a growing enterprise?
Is it any wonder why so many small business owners find themselves working more and enjoying it less? They’re on an the entrepreneurial treadmill: working hard rather than working SMART.
Escaping the Entrepreneurial Treadmill
While Gerber’s concept of viewing your business like a franchise has helped many technicians to find a way off the treadmill, most still struggle getting off. Why? Reading about it is easy. Doing it is not.
Successfully developing a franchise mentality requires two elusive elements:
- Improving the entrepreneur’s business savvy and people skills to comfortably and effectively delegate and motivate employees.
- Changing previously rewarded attitudes and habits to more productive ways of thinking and acting to support effectively getting things done through others.
Getting off the treadmill requires effective processes for developing these two critical elements. Without them, most hands-on entrepreneurs are never comfortable enough to let go. Their hands-on mentality combined with self-fulfilling and self-defeating attitudes keep them confined to that treadmill. They often intentionally avoid growth opportunities for fear of their inability to manage.
- Is your company avoiding the pursuit of growth opportunities out of concern that non-owner employees are incapable of execution?
- How many of the attitudes listed above describe your present philosophies?
- How will this approach effect your future ability to attract and maintain customers?
- To what extent are they keeping you on a treadmill of business and personal frustration?
- If there was a way for your organization to become more effective in the art of getting things done through others, would you be better able to get your business to comfortably grow?
Beyond The Franchise Mindset
The franchisor approach involves optimizing and establishing business processes that will allow anyone to be trained to produce the same outcomes. It’s an effective way of getting a business to run itself. Might there a way to make process improvement even more effective? Can we learn a lesson from one of our country’s most admired companies?
If there is an overarching reason for Southwest Airline’s success, it is that the company has spent far more time since 1971 focused on loving people than on the development of new management techniques. The tragedy of our time is that we’ve got it backwards. We’ve learned to LOVE techniques and USE people. – Kevin & Jackie Freiberg from Nuts! Southwest Airlines’ Crazy Recipe for Business and Personal Success
The philosophical argument between people and process might be compared to the chicken and egg or nature/nurture. Perhaps the franchise approach of having the your processes to control your people is best for your business. The reverse approach of empowering people to take ownership for the successful outcomes of their processes is not for everyone. It requires a significantly higher skill level and a holistic approach to strategy and focus. Often, these elements are absent from entrepreneurial organizations.
Which type of competitor would you fear the most?
Which type would you prefer to work for?
Which type is more likely to attract star performers?
Which type would have the most devoted customers?
If you had a proven, effective method for developing an ongoing commitment to improvement, what would it do for your ability to comfortably grow your business?
If applying these concepts is worthy of further discussion, you’re invited to click on the red button below.