So I recommend that ALL my clients read the E Myth by Michael Gerber. If you are a business owner and haven’t read it, for your own sake, please do.
The basic synopsis is this: That there is a HUGE difference between being an individual who is suffering with ‘entrepreneurial fever’: One who has chosen to stop working for someone else and go self-employed only to create a disastrous amount of misery-making, excess work for him or herself – and that of a true entrepreneur – One who builds a scalable, systemised business that will lead to prosperity and work/life balance for all involved.
I read the E Myth some years ago and had a ‘Hallelujah’ moment. There was all sorts of sense in it that I just couldn’t believe I had fundamentally never ‘got’ before. I still evangelically bash all my business-minded friends and clients over the head with it.
Why did it thrill me so? Well, the reason I was personally so excited by reading the E Myth was because it showed me where I had gone so painfully wrong in a previous business life. It underlined to me, bullet point by bullet point, all the mistakes I innocently made when I had first ‘bravely’ given up the day job and hurled myself fearlessly into the mythical role of ‘entrepreneur’.
Needless to say, because I didn’t systemise, I made all the mistakes that Michael Gerber tries to prevent his readers from making: After a couple of years of feverishly hard but ineffectual work; bleeding energy, time and money left right and centre, I had to lay that business to rest. I felt it was a personal tragedy and grieved it for a long time after. My pride was in tatters as was my bank account. I limped back to the day job where I licked my wounds, strapped up my burnt fingers and slowly, somewhat resentfully refreshed those empty coffers doing a good job but one that left me a bit deflated.
Anyway that was 2007. Now, today (in 2015!) I don’t regret making those mistakes for one, single second. I learnt some VERY valuable business lessons and in the grand scheme of things the only thing that really got hurt, was my ego.
Quick Aside: Just because I’ve made peace with MY business mistakes doesn’t mean I want others to go through the heartbreak of them too. I don’t believe it is a required right of passage; it was just my story. I guess that by sharing this post I hope I can encourage future business owners (or existing business owners who want to reinvigorate!) to look really carefully at their processes before they leap; to try to put the breaks on until some serious due-diligence has taken place. Easier said than done I know, because when that entrepreneurial lightbulb switches on, it can take unnatural strength to reign in ones pride, dim the beckoning glow of that future as a dotcom Billionaire and focus on attending to the detail of the ‘boring’ stuff. In a nutshell what I am trying to say is – maybe focus just a little less on the logo and a little more on the processes!
Anyway… a lot has changed in the global marketplace since I first read the E Myth over ten years ago; when Michael Gerber profoundly highlighted how essential it is to develop a ‘business handbook’ and use it to systemise every possible internal process. These handbooks are the bedrock of business success. Furnishing the business owner with a blueprint for recreating his or her success whilst operating as a streamlined ‘turnkey’ business (ie. an economic opportunity that can stand alone, survive and prosper long after its owner/founder has moved on).
Michael Gerber was writing only a decade or so ago but that is an eternity in terms of the evolution of business systemisation tools, especially in the world of online business. He wrote the Emyth in the days before APIs* (and all the mind boggling possibilities of seamless digital automation that spring from those three clever letters!); long, long before we humans were able to easily automate half of an average business’s day-to-day internal processes, as efficiently as we do now.
Without wishing to sound like a Victorian textile mill owner who has recently discovered the ‘magic’ of machines and suddenly wants to sack all of her spinning ladies: This is what I think…
AUTOMATION ROCKS! It enables us to put something like ‘the power of jet engines’ under those brilliant ideas that were first highlighted in the EMyth.
PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE if you are a business owner setting up your systems take note now. YOU ARE IN THE MOST PRIVILEGED POSITION! Give yourself the best chance possible for sustainable success. You can implement automated systems right from the start. Do it now before you end up flogging a dead horse or become an SME that finds itself in a sticky cycle of logging into a million isolated programmes, online tools or platforms. (How many SME businesses are disparately run via a mix of Outlook notes, Excel, a standalone website and 2 or 3 aging CMS or CRMS?).
Don’t make the same mistakes I did when I started my first (doomed) business all those years ago. Focus on creating a systemised business following today’s well-trodden path to the online business ‘growth tipping point’. Personalise and maximise the functionality of some of the many, readily available tools of digital automation. Aim to work ON your business not IN it… And if at all possible, work hard on it and get it operating in a well-oiled fashion BEFORE you chuck in the towel of your day job.
- Make sure you outline a ‘map’ for your new business systems with a view to implementing automation and systemisation (wherever possible) from the early early stages. Develop a really clear, preferably visual, plan about what tools you need (and don’t need) to operate.
- Try to create strategies for your internal processes before you even start doing business (you can use these for the basis of your business handbook later down the line).
- Remember, systemisation and automation doesn’t have to cost a fortune! Such is the beauty of today’s online products. But a few well researched and properly implemented tools that work together, will make all the difference in the long run.
Get your systems talking to each other. Use the powers of API* match-making platforms out there (like Zapier) to get your online tools ‘knitted’ together. This will ensure your digital systems push information back and forth to each other – without you ever having to remember to make them.
- Don’t give up the day job until you have thoroughly implemented the systems and test driven them, so that when you open for business you can confidently go out to market and start making money in a sustainable way.