The E-Myth Revisited

Why Most Small Businesses Don't Work and What to Do About It

by Michael E. Gerber

292 pages, ★★☆☆☆
Finished on 14th of December, 2020, buy here.

This author is clearly insane. Most successful business books offer a few good points to remember and then fluff it up with certain amounts of side stories to drive these points home. But Gerber is turning this method up to 11. He’s using the literary device of making up a struggling small business owner, “Sarah”, in order to explain his wisdom to her, not unlike many other business book authors do. But the way he does this is cringy at best. “Sarah touched my hand and said, ‘you’re amazing, I can’t wait to get to implement these new ways of thinking about my business you just told me!’” – and then he tells a long story about a Jesus-like figure’s life, only to reveal at the end that it was himself he was talking about. 

On the plus side, it’s comfortable and quick to read. Here’s the main take-away: Most small businesses are started by a “Technician” as he calls them, who does the work and thinks it would work in his own business, too, instead of for another company. They forget that running a business requires the roles of the “Entrepreneur” (a visionary who has a clear agenda, goal for some time in the future, and a plan to get there in mind) and the “Manager” (who organizes everything and everyone into a self-sufficient system), too. We can have all these roles within us, but need to set clear boundaries between them. Another important quote would be: “Work on the business instead of in the business.” – and the suggestion to frame your company as if you would be working on setting it up for franchising it, even if that’s not the plan. That way you will look at it as a closed off and functional system. I found that helpful. 

Those key points would have been worth a short blog post (which would be a good one, I think), but not at all a whole book. Hard to believe it has sold millions of copies and is recommended so often.