The Entrepreneur’s Journey

Here’s Why All Entrepreneurs Should Read “The E-Myth” by Michael Gerber

Before digging into The E-Myth - a go-to playbook for almost all entrepreneurs - I want to explain why reading this type of literature is crucial.

As a professional coach who facilitates entrepreneurial advisory groups, one of my core focuses is course-correcting, a notion that gets overlooked.

In place of course-correcting, we romanticize putting in long, hard hours. It’s part of the “boss” culture, so to speak. Each of us is supposed to live, eat, sleep, and breathe work, with no time for anything else. Beyond that, we demonize not working hard enough–as though taking some time for yourself is a mortal sin.

Point blank, the above perspectives won’t bring you toward a happy and healthy life. Nor will they help you thrive as an entrepreneur.

What should be demonized is doing too much of the wrong type of work, namely, spending time on low-value tasks. And we should romanticize maximizing our minutes, focusing on high-value work that helps our business grow even if we aren’t around. 

Without the benefit of course-correcting, you’ll never reach that peak–the place where you’re pulling in 7 figures while only working 30 hours per week.

A book like The E-Myth is integral to your growth as an entrepreneur because of its course-correcting qualities. By reading this book, it won’t take 5 years of chasing your tail around low-value tasks before making the necessary changes. 

Instead, you can set yourself straight - at least partially - in the time it takes to read Michael Gerber’s 268 easy-to-digest pages. 

What is The E-Myth About?

Published in 1986, Michael Gerber’s The E-Myth proves to be timeless and universal with its lessons and main messages.

More specifically, Gerber examines the driving forces that lead 80% of smalls businesses to failure.  Leaning on his 40 years of entrepreneurial experience, he uses those lessons to give his readers a blueprint for success.

Your keys to success revolve around one specific principle: your business won’t succeed if it revolves around the actions of one individual. It must, instead, be based on a system.

Entrepreneurs who I coach are probably sick of how much I sing the above message to the skies. But thinking beyond individual effort is the only way you’ll ever be a bonafide owner. Your business must be its own living, breathing entity that functions at peak efficiency without its owner in the mix.

Gerber’s insights really speak to me, and his book is essential reading to any entrepreneur. With that said, here are the takeaways that I’ve carried with me since reading The E-Myth:

Letting Go of Your Technical Expertise

Earlier, I mentioned the importance of avoiding low-value tasks that chew up your day. Typically, you might hear a term like “low-value task” and think that means something menial like sweeping your floor or reorganizing your cabinets. That’s not always the case, though. 

No. A low-value task is the type of work that won’t necessarily grow your business. 

Michael Gerber in The E-myth places little value in the technical work–which might seem counterintuitive. 

But you need to think of the actual responsibilities of an owner. Before, when you had a “job,” your technical work stood for something. Because that’s what an owner paid you to do. Whereas an owner isn’t paying themselves to perform a particular job.

Familiarity with the technical aspects of your company will indeed help you build the repeatable tasks needed to create an overarching system. But that’s where it ends for you.

Once you’ve created the systems, you hire technical experts to do the work and follow those processes you’ve established. Their level of expertise might vary, depending on your products, services, and clientele. Still, no matter how long you’ve spent honing your craft at a given discipline, you’ve graduated into owner status now. And your high-value tasks are rooted in system creation. 

A Real-World Example of System Creation Versus Passionate Expertise

If you don’t have time to read Gerber’s The E-Myth, but you want to see his lessons enacted in a 2-hour film, watch The Founder starring Michael Keaton. 

Keaton plays McDonald’s founder Ray Kroc, a man who was neither a burger chef nor fry cook. 

The McDonald brothers were the ones who opened the first McDonald’s restaurants. The two were passionate experts, focused primarily on making great food for their respectable but limited client base.

Long story short, Kroc - who prioritizes system-building, innovation, and growth - ends up being the one to turn McDonald’s into the world superpower it is today. 

And the poor McDonald brothers - who perfected the menu items that got so famous - were left out in the cold. 

Had Ray Kroc only focused on developing the tastiest sauces for each burger, he wouldn’t have amounted to much. And McDonald’s would still be a couple of franchises in San Bernadino. But Kroc saw beyond individual products, setting his sights on the big-picture as soon as he met the McDonald’s brothers. The rest - as they say - is history. 

A Business Owner’s Three Distinct Personalities

Continuing to use the previous example of Ray Kroc in The Founder, I’llapply it to the 3 personalities Gerber ascribes to all business owners in The E-Myth.

The Entrepreneur:

Your entrepreneurial side involves innovation. It’s the “dreamer” in you that keeps reaching for more. There’s a need to control this element of your personality, given the natural inkling to sprint before you can walk. 

If your entrepreneurial side runs wild, all you’ll have is ideas, and you’ll lack any practical ways to execute.

Ray Kroc always had the vision to keep pushing for more. But he also spent time in restaurants learning the technical ropes. He also created the entire concept of fast food as we know it, which could be replicated by anyone. Kroc blended his entrepreneurial spirit with practicality and sound business logic.

The Manager:

A manager gets all a company’s ducks in a row, ensuring everything is where it belongs, from tools and software to processes and people. 

This element of your personality is required to create systems and stay on top of moving parts. However, if you’re too much of a manager, you’ll remain too rigid and never move forward.

The McDonald brothers were fantastic restaurant managers on top of being excellent cooks (or “technicians”). Before Kroc was around, McDonald’s ran with peak efficiency, which attracted the eventual founder in the first place. 

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