The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don't Work and What to Do About It

The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don't Work and What to Do About It

by Michael E. Gerber


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780887307287
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 10/14/2004
Edition description: Updated
Pages: 288
Sales rank: 15,819
Product dimensions: 5.34(w) x 8.02(h) x 0.71(d)

About the Author

Michael E. Gerber is a true legend of entrepreneurship. INC. magazine called him "the World's #1 Small Business Guru." He is the Co-Founder and Chairman of Michael E. Gerber Companies—a group of highly unique enterprises dedicated to creating world-class start-ups and entrepreneurs in every industry and economy—a company that transforms the way small business owners grow their companies and which has evolved into an empire over its history of nearly three decades.

Read an Excerpt

The Entrepreneurial Myth

They intoxicate themselves with work so they won't see how they really are.
—Aldous Huxley

The E-Myth is the myth of the entrepreneur. It runs deep in this country and rings of the heroic.

Picture the typical entrepreneur and Herculean pictures come to mind: a man or woman standing alone, wind-blown against the elements, bravely defying insurmountable odds, climbing sheer faces of treacherous rock—all to realize the dream of creating a business of one's own.

The legend reeks of nobility, of lofty, extra-human efforts, of a prodigious commitment to larger-than-life ideals.

Well, while there are such people, my experience tells me they are rare.

Of the thousands of businesspeople I have had the opportunity to know and work with over the past two decades, few were real entrepreneurs when I met them.

The vision was all but gone in most.

The zest for the climb had turned into a terror of heights.

The face of the rock had become something to cling to rather than to scale.

Exhaustion was common, exhilaration rare.

But hadn't all of them once been entrepreneurs? After all, they had started their own business. There must have been some dream that drove them to take such a risk.

But, if so, where was the dream now? Why had it faded?

Where was the entrepreneur who had started the business?

The answer is simple: the entrepreneur had only existed for a moment.

A fleeting second in time.

And then it was gone. In most cases, forever.

If the entrepreneur survived at all, it was only as a myth that grew out of a misunderstanding about who goes into business andwhy.

A misunderstanding that has cost us dearly in this country—more than we can possibly imagine—in lost resources, lost opportunities, and wasted lives.

That myth, that misunderstanding, I call the E-Myth, the myth of the entrepreneur.

And it finds its roots in this country in a romantic belief that small businesses are started by entrepreneurs, when, in fact, most are not.

Then who does start small businesses in America?

And why?

The Entrepreneurial Seizure

To understand the E-Myth and the misunderstanding at its core, let's take a closer look at the person who goes into business. Not after he goes into business, but before.

For that matter, where were you before you started your business? And, if you're thinking about going into business, where are you now?

Well, if you're like most of the people I've known, you were working for somebody else.

What were you doing?

Probably technical work, like almost everybody who goes into business.

You were a carpenter, a mechanic, or a machinist.

You were a bookkeeper or a poodle clipper; a drafts-person or a hairdresser; a barber or a computer programmer; a doctor or a technical writer; a graphic artist or an accountant; an interior designer or a plumber or a salesperson.

But whatever you were, you were doing technical work.

And you were probably damn good at it.

But you were doing it for somebody else.

Then, one day, for no apparent reason, something happened. It might have been the weather, a birthday, or your child's graduation from high school. It might have been the paycheck you received on a Friday afternoon, or a sideways glance from the boss that just didn't sit right. It might have been a feeling that your boss didn't really appreciate your contribution to the success of his business.

It could have been anything; it doesn't matter what. But one day, for apparently no reason, you were suddenly stricken with an Entrepreneurial Seizure. And from that day on your life was never to be the same.

Inside your mind it sounded something like this: "What am I doing this for? Why am I working for this guy? Hell, I know as much about this business as he does. If it weren't for me, he wouldn't have a business. Any dummy can run a business. I'm working for one."

And the moment you paid attention to what you were saying and really took it to heart, your fate was sealed.

The excitement of cutting the cord became your constant companion.

The thought of independence followed you everywhere.

The idea of being your own boss, doing your own thing, singing your own song, became obsessively irresistible.

Once you were stricken with an Entrepreneurial Seizure, there was no relief.

You couldn't get rid of it.

You had to start your own business.

Table of Contents

Part. I. The E-Myth and American Small Business
Chapter 1: The Entrepreneurial Myth
Chapter 2: The Entrepreneur, the Manager, and the Technician
Chapter 3: Infancy: The Technician's Phase
Chapter 4: Adolescence: Getting Some Help
Chapter 5: Beyond the Comfort Zone
Chapter 6: Maturity and the Entrepreneurial Perspective
Part. II. The Turn-Key Revolution: A New View of Business
Chapter 7: The Turn-Key Revolution
Chapter 8: The Franchise Prototype
Chapter 9: Working On Your Business, Not In It
Part. III. Building a Small Business That Works!
Chapter 10: The Business Development Process
Chapter 11: Your Business Development Program
Chapter 12:. Your Primary Aim
Chapter 13: Your Strategic Objective
Chapter 14: Your Organizational Strategy
Chapter 15: Your Management Strategy
Chapter 16: Your People Strategy
Chapter 17: Your Marketing Strategy
Chapter 18: Your Systems Strategy
Chapter 19: A Letter to Sarah
Epilogue: Bringing the Dream Back to American Small Business
Afterword: Taking the First Step

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The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don't Work and What to Do about It 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 55 reviews.
HyperionDn More than 1 year ago
You need to buy this book if you're a small business person or a sole practitioner or artist of any sort thinking of starting a small business. Gerber has a very important concept that is so often overlooked: to turn yourself from an artisan to a business person, you need to stop working IN your business and start working ON your business. The best way, he says, to think of this is to imagine if you had to "franchise" your business. Is the way you're doing things systematic enough that it can be replicated all over the country? In reality, of course, the odds that you WILL franchise your business are negligible, but the same method of thinking will allow you to: ...expand your business to include more employees ...allow you to go on VACATION with a free and easy conscience ....allow someone else to pick up the slack if you fall ill. There are some other good points in here (the value of consistency, etc.) A definite must read for the small business owner. Having said all this, I am not really sure why Gerber "revisited" his original E-myth. If you can find a copy of the original, it was even better, lacking the superfluous "sarah" character who mars and confuses this revised edition slightly.
Demetrius_Minos More than 1 year ago
This book is striking from the beginning because it was like a refreshing breeze on a hot and humid summer day. In an age where many businesses are chaotic, without vision, and without direction this book reminds us of the power, and wealth-building potential, of engineering, uniformity, and simplicity. While the book is targeted to small business many of the biggest corporations can definitely benefit from its wisdom. Some of the worlds' most famous franchises are evidence the utility of an engineered approach to business. In my opinion this should be required reading, and mastery of concept, for any executive.
coolreem More than 1 year ago
If you are ever asking the questions, "Why dont I start my own business," or " Why do I continue to work for this crazy company," then you need to pick this book up and you are thinking about starting your own business, then this book is for you. This book is also for people who have a small business and are trying to make it grow. This book does what other books do not do. It describes people who are real good at a skill and say, it is time to start my own business. And after 4 months or so in, they are burnt out mad, unsuccessful and wonder why. This book is not a technical boring book. It is a real easy read and it is very pratical. I recommend this book before you quit your job.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Book is an easy read and gives you tools for digesting problems with your company. It gives an interesting perspective to the makings and success of a small business, could even be applied to a medium size business.

The prototype is a lot of work and the detail envolved and why the prototype is needed is clear cut. Most of what is said is common sense, but we all need direction to get our minds thinking - it is a great guide for bigger things.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This might be the best book ever in terms of learning how a successful business runs around a 'system'. He uses great examples throughout the book. Using Sara as a backbone example, I like the way she tries to explain what she just learned in her own words (sometimes helps the point he just made 'click'). Make sure you have a highlighter for this one so you can keep track of all the useful information when coming up with your own system for your business! This book is priceless!!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Bought this book on the recommendation of a friend who is also starting his own company. Don't get me wrong--it's full of lots of helpful information. It's also full of lots of superflulous crap. The book does a really good job of building up to the point of making the reader realize s/he has to make changes in her/his company, then when it starts to give advice on how to make and impliment those changes, it backs down. Unfortunately, this happens 2/3 of the way through and you're left reading the last 1/3 of the book, hoping to come across something useful and don't. It's like in high school where you write 'he was a very very very very very big man' to try and get the paper's word count in. You get the feeling that somebody's just trying to get the word count in. So, worth a skim, but not a read. Check it out from the library don't buy it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I am young and have not graduated college yet, but can't keep from thinking about owning my own business someday. I found this to be a great read simply b/c it was informative on an issue that I have no experience with. Overall it's a good starter book for those interested in running a business.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The e-myth deals with the concept of working 'in' your business and working 'on' your business. Most entrepreneurs do not realize the difference and end up spending their time trying to do it all only to wind up exhausted and wondering why they got into their business in the first place. I think this book does a good job of explaining what business owners need to understand in order to ensure the success of their business.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book addresses many good ideas but offers no answers. There is a good reason for this. At the end of the book, there is contact information for the author's consulting company. They want at least $800.00 per month for phone consulting only by people with unknown qualifications.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a worthwhile read for any small business owner. The author makes the point that (if I may paraphrase Shakespeare) he comes not to answer questions but to raise them. And this he does, forcefully and persuasively. He has the 'Technician' small business owner pegged perfectly, and anyone who does not recognize this person in himself is probably self-deluded. Gerber uses the Business Format Franchise idea as the framework with which to describe what is otherwise known as Business Process Re-engineering, and it is very effective. It succeded in making me look at my own enterprise from a different perspective. Where the book lets the reader down is that it takes him along a path to the door of the author's consulting firm, leaving him with the aftertaste of an infomercial. On the whole, however, I consider this a 'must read'.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I think that this book over-simplifies some businesses. If you are the owner of a "service" based type of business, (a few examples would be, a decorator, investigator, massage therapist etc.....), it is not as easy as to say that one can hire unskilled labor to run such a business. There are many businesses owned by people, which "their" creativity/skill cannot be duplicated, like "putting pickles on a bun". There are a few ideas that may be of value for some people from this book, but unless you are actually "making" something in your business, this book doesn't have as much value. If you want to "franchise" your business or buy a franchise - read it. If you are the "person" that your business is about (again, examples that were given previously), you cannot expect to pay unskilled labor to duplicate your work, you will have to pay dearly for skilled-degreed/certified people, not to mention if your business involves going into other peoples homes, the environment cannot be duplicated either. I would suggest if you have a "creative" "service" business and need help to try to find a mentor in your field, or call a local trade school/college for help because this book won't.
NZJEWELRY More than 1 year ago
it is amazing how this book was published literally decades ago and every single thing it talks about still stands true today. It really talks about what's going on within you and your thoughts & struggles when it comes to starting a business. such an easy read and great takeaway points all over.
RuthVermouth More than 1 year ago
My husband and I have both read this book and it has absolutely changed our lives. This is an absolute MUST READ for any business owner or aspiring entrepreneur. Easy to read and understand, this book provides simple, yet profound, solutions to implement into your own business (and life). If you follow Michael Gerber's guidelines, he will help you lay down a solid foundation for your business, assist you in defining your future (outside of the business), give you the ability to streamline your business' processes so that your business can operate regardless of whether or not you are there, and much, much more. SIMPLY AMAZING.
Schik13797razor More than 1 year ago
This book explains the way business SHOULD be done. It tells how every business and every employer need to set-up and run their business. People need to quit thinking about their business or job how they would do it, and instead think of how to make it simple for someone else to do it. With a simple change in the way you look at your business or job, you can make huge, drastic changes in your happiness and productivity.
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caroll More than 1 year ago
The E Myth Revisited by Michael E. Gerber stresses the importance of planning, organizing and running a small business with ethics, excellence, and a sense of responsibility to the owner, employees and the public. It makes the case for living, working and running a business from the best in us, doing what we love and giving back! I highly recommend it!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Had started the original version from a friend and decided to get my own. Fantastic resource with modern day examples.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This Is Review body Test; Edited text searchWord = e Thu Oct 22 2009 20:52:00 GMT-0400 (Eastern Daylight Time) 0
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great book for small business owners. Michael Gerber writes with statistics, coaching/consulting style along with a storyline. It's a great read for young entrepreneurs.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
jwcooper3 on LibraryThing 7 months ago
Thinking of starting your own business??? READ THIS BOOK. It will save you a lot of grief. Written in plain English with real-life examples.
markdeo on LibraryThing 7 months ago
A sound book on small business.
jjlangel on LibraryThing 7 months ago
The first half was really interesting and insightful. The second half...well, I think I've found the person responsible for all the things I hated most about my last job, which appear to have been implemented almost verbatim from this book.