The E Myth Revisited by Michael Gerber
In a relatively short book, Michael Gerber explores many reasons that separate successful businesses from those that fail, or fail to live up to their potential. There is no quick fix as we all know by now, but the classification of certain roles and objectives within a business can have great effects on the day-to-day running, and in turn success, of the company.
Gerber cites the need to distinguish between people as technicians, entrepreneurs and managers. Most businesses do not work because they are run by technicians – someone who knows the technical work involved in the job, but not how to run or grow the business to its potential.
A technician is most often an expert in a particular craft – be it a baker, mechanic or software developer – that is often led into going into business by themselves. On the surface, this makes sense, they are good at what they do, so why not make the maximum amount of money for their own benefit rather than work for someone else. They are happiest when doing what they are good at, namely the craft, and ignoring the rest. This is ultimately a disaster waiting to happen.
An entrepreneur is somebody with ambition, a dreamer, reaching for the stars. They feed on potential, striving for something that currently doesn’t exist, and are often frustrated by the lack of movement and urgency.
A manager is organised, and on top of things. Paying attention to details, they ensure there are as few surprises as possible, and no stone is left unturned. This creates an environment whereby things happen in a reliable and orderly fashion.
The emphasis Gerber makes is on the need for all three of these skills to be present in order for a business to run efficiently, and in turn achieve success. They are not separate people, but elements of our personalities – combining them all together is where the key lies.
If a business is to succeed, and thrive, it is integral to move beyond the founder in the day to day running. It is unsustainable, and incredibly inefficient for the owner to burden all of the responsibility, whilst not maximising their usefulness to the business. A real business is one where the company is able to run without the constant presence of the founder, and there are systems in place to handle the day to day running rather than a single decision maker. Gerber describes this as the “franchise prototype” and notes inspiration comes from franchise firms such as McDonald’s that utilise manuals describing exact details on how to run the business without the presence of the founder. This enables consumers to receive the exact same experience whichever restaurant they go to, and leaves little room for error due to the specific instructions laid out in the manual. This culminates in the philosophy that instead of running the business by fixing bicycles or writing computer programmes, you need to work on the business, spending time to create an entity that can thrive on its own without the owner as the central cog.