Written by a small business consulting guru, The E-Myth Revisited puts forth the notion that most people go into business for the wrong reason and pay a steep price for their mistake.
In starting a business, Gerber asserts that most new business owners are pursuing an entrepreneurial myth (hence "E-Myth"), the idea that because they are good at something, they can create a company that will do well. The world then proceeds to eat them alive, making their lives a living hell.
The book explains what this hellish life as an entrepreneur is like.
If you own a business and have not yet been enlightened by The E-Myth Revisited, the pain and suffering of the entrepreneur in the book, Sarah, will hit home…hard. You will feel as if Gerber has been following you around, taking notes on your challenging business and personal lives.
Sarah's is a monotonous life, stuck on what I call the small business treadmill, working insane hours to make next to nothing without much hope for the future success of her business. With no time for herself or her family, she's caught in a trap and sees no way to get out.
The trouble with entrepreneurs like Sarah, Gerber explains, is that they let their Technician persona lead their actions and their thoughts.
Gerber notes that each of us, those of us who are business owners, has three innate personalities that vie for center stage: the Entrepreneur, the Manger and the Technician. It's true. Every entrepreneur will relate to these three personas described in the book.
The big problem is that most entrepreneurs start a company because they are skilled Technicians – they know what it takes to create and deliver a good product or service to their customers. Entranced by what Gerber calls an "entrepreneurial seizure," they pursue the allure of being their own boss and making more money than they might have made as an employee for somebody else.
Due to their Technician mentality, for reasons Gerber explains in great detail, these new entrepreneurs quickly learn that they are not their own boss. Rather, their business is the boss, and it's the worst boss they've every worked for, a slave driver who pays them next to nothing.
Gerber's prescription for getting off the treadmill is for entrepreneurs to recognize that the most important role of a business owner is to create a business that works independently of himself or herself.
To get things on a better track, the business owner's inner Entrepreneur needs to create a powerful vision for the company, and the Manager needs to ensure that the business can function independently of the business owner. To a great extent, the Technician must get out of the way of the other two entrepreneurial personas.
Much of the prescription will be familiar to those who have the studied the art of franchising. The cure is largely about systematizing processes in pursuit of an ambitious vision for the business.
The key takeaway?
Small business owners fail in large numbers. For the most part, they fail because they create a job for themselves, rather than a truly viable business.
It's easy to fall into this trap. We can all thank Gerber for drawing our attention to the trap, helping us to avoid it and teaching us how to get out of it if we become its prey.
If you are an entrepreneur, this is an essential read. For the cost of the book, you'll get an education that could change your life and, in all seriousness, could be a gating factor as to whether your business will succeed or fail.