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The E Myth Summary: How to Create a Business That Won’t Fail (Immediately)

When Michael E. Gerber gives you advice for starting a business you listen to it.

With a career spanning over 40 years and working with hundreds of thousands of companies worldwide, Gerber’s expertise is invaluable to anyone looking to start their own venture. Lucky for us, he’s written several books on the topic, the most famous of which I’ll be summarizing in this post.

(I myself owe a debt of gratitude to Michael Gerber for helping write my book. This is one of the fundamentals in building your business other wise you just have a glorious job-jme)

This E Myth summary will take the core business tips from Gerber’s work and condense them into a single post.

It’s all of the value, proven with examples from companies like Facebook and Zenefits, and doesn’t need you to spend 40 years to learn it.

In particular, I’ll be covering:

  • Balancing your business personalities

  • Creating a business, not a job

  • Working on your business, not in it

  • Why your business needs systems

  • The idea of your business being your product

  • Motivating employees with the idea behind their work

  • Make topics human to make them interesting

Let’s get started.

Balance your business personalities

Setting up a business isn’t all about entrepreneurial spirit and vision. In fact, that’s just one of three personas you need to learn to balance in order to see any success.

The Entrepreneur provides your vision and future goals, the Manager organizes everything and establishes a status quo, and the Technician does the work. Each has flaws but together they create a healthy attitude toward creating and growing a small business.

Vision tends to come most easily to those setting up their own business. The real challenge comes with balancing that vision and the ideas you get with creating systems and managing your business while focusing on the work that actually matters.

Take Richard Branson for example.

His first business (at age 15) sprouted out of a desire to voice opinions which were considered too “revolutionary” for his school’s existing magazine, aptly named The Stoic. Student magazine allowed Branson to do just that.

The Entrepreneur saw a vision of a magazine where they could speak without censorship. The Manager set up a way for contributors to collaborate and formed the business model. The Technician buckled down, wrote what he wanted to talk about, reached out to different schools for collaborators, arranged distribution and enough advertising to give the magazine away for free.

“Jonny Gems and I wanted to set up an alternative magazine with a fresh attitude. We wanted to campaign against corporal punishment, compulsory chapel, games and Latin.” – Richard Branson, A Student with a Plan

Create a business, not a job

An easy trap when setting up a business is to do so because you think “I’d like to do X all day” or “I should be doing that – I’d be better than them”.

That’s not an idea for a business. That’s a job leading straight to a dead end.

“If your business depends on you, you don’t own a business – you have a job. And it’s the worst job in the world because you’re working for a lunatic!” – Michael E. Gerber, The E Myth Revisited, p. 40

If all you want to do is climb the ladder or earn money, follow that idea while working for others. Prove that you can perform better than others and reap the rewards but without the headache of managing the business behind each role.

If you want to create a business, take a step back and first think about what kind of lifestyle you want to have. This dictates the kind of business you’ll need to create, which will give your Entrepreneur some rough parameters and a direction to go with when thinking of ideas. The Technician can then get to making it work.