JULY 2012: BEYOND THE E-MYTH
By Hope Katz Gibbs
When Michael Gerber’s “E-Myth” was published in 1986, he had an inkling that entrepreneurs would take note.
After all, he was offering a solution for the millions of people struggling to understand why their small businesses don’t work and what to do about it.
Andrea Keating (pictured below) can relate. The founder of the international video-staffing firm Crews Control has turned her 1988 start-up into a multimillion-dollar business. And, she has bought other firms that have also made multimillons in the years since. But, Keating admits it wasn’t easy.
“That’s why Gerber’s book has always resonated with me,” she shares. “In talking about ‘the myth of the entrepreneur,’ his bestseller dispels the commonplace assumptions surrounding starting and running a successful small business. Gerber knows the challenges that I faced as a new business owner—and his advice helped me overcome them.”
What is the E-Myth? Gerber defines it like this: “The Entrepreneurial Myth says that technicians suffering from an entrepreneurial seizure believe that because they understand how to do the work of the business they intend to start, they are automatically gifted with an understanding about how to build and grow a business that does work.”
Sound familiar? Here’s more: “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 that I have had the opportunity to know and work with over the past two decades, few were real entrepreneurs when I met them,” he continues. “The vision was all but gone in most. The zest for the climb had turned into a terror of heights. 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.”
For entrepreneurs like Keating, Gerber’s guidance helped them navigate from entrepreneurial infancy, through adolescent growing pains, to the mature business perspective that enables growth. Click here for details on Keating’s journey.
By the time he was 68, Gerber knew there was more to the story. The more he thought about the process and reality of building a business, the more he realized the entrepreneur within him had died years before.
“After teaching, coaching, training, and mentoring more than 60,000 business owners, I discovered that everything we taught our clients isn’t nearly essential enough,” he explains today, at 75. “It’s about stimulating a clear understanding about what truly artful, effective, dedicated entrepreneurs do that moves them and the business products they invent beyond all the rest of us.”
That realization prompted Gerber to birth his 2008 book, “Awakening the Entrepreneur Within.” Here, he introduces us to The Dreaming Room, a place where he says, “ordinary people go to create extraordinary companies.”
Step 1: Entrepreneurs flesh out the Dream, Vision, Purpose, and Mission of a meaningful venture using the following three components:
• Intentional Dreaming®. This step is completed with the creation of a white paper that clearly articulates the Great Result® that the new venture is intended to produce (aka: the Dream, Vision, and Purpose), and the process by which it is built and realized (aka: the Mission).
• Intentional Organization®. This includes the architecture of the business model—what it looks like, how it works, and the fluency of performance.
• Intentional Growth®. Gerber says this is the product of direct-response marketing. Find more details here.
Step 2: Gerber posits:
1. An entrepreneur is an inventor. An inventor sees the world through alert, wide-open eyes and asks, “What’s missing in this picture?” He answers it by inventing the missing piece. This is not a guarantee of success, but failing to be an entrepreneurial business is a guarantee of failure.
2. Entrepreneurs do not buy business opportunities, they create them. While business opportunities such as franchises are more likely to guarantee success, they are only successful to the degree the buyer suppresses his or her inclination to invent. In the end, they are doomed to disappoint.
3. Invention is contagious. The entrepreneur’s passion comes not only from inventing a new business, but also from basking in the delight of other people as they gladly experience his or her invention. Sustaining it then becomes the primary focus. The more significant the invention, the easier it is to sustain its success.
4. To most entrepreneurs, the success of the business is measured by growth. The faster the business grows, the more successful the invention. Slow growth, or no growth, is death. Unfortunately, most businesses don’t close soon enough.
5. Everyone possesses the ability to be an entrepreneur. Entrepreneurs are made, not born. There is no corner on creativity. There is simply the desire to express it. Developing an entrepreneurial skill simply requires practice.
Ready for Step 3? To discover the job of the Dreamer, Thinker, Storyteller, and Leader in every good business, click here.