Book Review: The E-Myth

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

Author: Michael E. Gerber

Publication Date: 1995

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Yes, this is an older book, but someone recently recommended it to me. I am glad I read it.

The “E” in E-Myth stands for Entrepreneur. When we start a business, we likely all believe certain myths of what owning a business will be like. We learn quickly that reality is quite different than dreams. If you (the entrepreneur) and your business are living lives that are chaotic, this book provides some practical steps to help you re-focus. Basically, it helps you look at all your positions of responsibility: innovator, maintainer, and doer. Then, taking a step back, the book suggests method(s) of how to change you and your business to make prior dreams become a reality.

The greatest negativity about this book, in my opinion, would be its application to service businesses. I would have been pleased if someone had handed me a manual with step-by-step instructions for every client situation I would ever encounter during my career. That’s just not possible. A manual can’t teach knowledge gained through experience. If you own a service business, you will need to adjust, in my opinion, the Franchise Prototype Model as outlined in the book. Regardless though, I have taken some key points from the Model and am attempting to implement them in my service business.

Who should read this book?

  1. The new entrepreneur should read it to understand the many “hats” he or she will be required to wear when owning and running a small business.
  2. The discouraged entrepreneur should read it to provide perspective that “your business is to serve your life,” and not the other way around (see Chapter 9).
  3. The ever-learning and -growing entrepreneur should read it to be reminded of what is important to a business: “How it looks, how it acts, how it does what it is intended to do” (see Chapter 6).

My key take-away from the book is this: “Your business is not your life” (see Chapter 9). Why was this statement profound to me? Because this statement sounded vaguely familiar to another principle: My career is not my life. A friend reminded me of this concept a few years ago when I was still an employee of another accounting firm. It was hard to start applying this principle, but every step I made toward application has been well worth it. (Maybe a topic for a future blog post!) More recently though, I’ve been applying the concept as a business owner. I was pleased to read the confirmation in this book!