The E-Myth Revisited



This book has become something of a commercial Bible for our company and something we refer back too often. We've even arranged company away day's so that we all can listen to or read the book together.

In short the book tells us that most small business owners work in their business rather than on their business. People who are exceptionally good in business are so because of their need to know more and that understanding the technical work of a business does not mean you understand a business that does technical work.

The author believes that if you are unwilling to change, your business will never be capable of giving you what you want. He talks about The Entrepreneurial Seizure: the moment you decide it would be a great idea to start your own business. The technician suffering from an Entrepreneurial Seizure takes the work he loves to do and turns it into a job.

Everybody who goes into business is actually three-people-in-one: The Entrepreneur, The Manager, and The Technician.”

The three most powerful points I took from the book were;

  1. Work on your company and not in your company.

  2. Your job is to prepare yourself and your business for growth.

  3. Before you can determine anything you need to know what you will stand for.

The Entrepreneur

  • The Entrepreneur lives in the future, never in the past, rarely in the present. He’s happiest when left free to construct images of ‘what-if’ and ‘if-when.’

  • The Entrepreneur is the innovator, the grand strategist, the creator of new methods for penetrating or creating new markets.

  • The Entrepreneur is our creative personality—always at its best dealing with the unknown, prodding the future, creating probabilities out of possibilities, engineering chaos into harmony

  • The Entrepreneur has an extraordinary need for control. He needs control of people and events in the present so that he can concentrate on his dreams.

  • The Entrepreneur creates a great deal of havoc around him, which is predictably unsettling for those he enlists in his projects.

  • The Entrepreneur’s worldview is a world made up both of an overabundance of opportunities and dragging feet.

  • To The Entrepreneur, most people are problems that get in the way of the dream.

The Manager

  • The Manager is pragmatic. Without him, there would be no planning, no order, no predictability.

  • If The Entrepreneur lives in the future, The Manager lives in the past.

  • Where The Entrepreneur craves control, The Manager craves order.

  • Where The Entrepreneur thrives on change, The Manager compulsively clings to the status quo

  • Where The Entrepreneur invariably sees the opportunity in events, The Manager invariably sees the problems.

  • The Manager is the one who runs after The Entrepreneur to clean up the mess.

  • Without The Manager, there could be no business, no society.

  • It is the tension between The Entrepreneur’s vision and The Manager’s pragmatism that creates the synthesis from which all great works are born.

The Technician

  • The Technician is the doer and the Technician loves to tinker.

  • If The Entrepreneur lives in the future and The Manager lives in the past, The Technician lives in the present. He loves the feel of things and the fact that things can get done.

  • As long as The Technician is working, he is happy, but only on one thing at a time. He knows that two things can’t get done simultaneously; only a fool would try. So he works steadily and is happiest when he is in control of the workflow.

  • The Technician mistrusts those he works for because they are always trying to get more work done than is either possible or necessary.

  • To The Technician, thinking is unproductive unless it’s thinking about the work that needs to be done.

  • Thinking isn’t work; it gets in the way of work.

  • The Technician isn’t interested in ideas; he’s interested in ‘how to do it.

  • To The Technician, all ideas need to be reduced to methodology if they are to be of any value

  • The Technician knows that if it weren’t for him, the world would be in more trouble than it already is.

  • Everyone gets in The Technician’s way and to The Technician, ‘the system’ is dehumanising, cold, antiseptic, and impersonal. It violates his individuality.

The fact of the matter is that we all have an Entrepreneur, Manager, and Technician inside us. The typical small business owner is only 10 percent Entrepreneur, 20 percent Manager, and 70 percent Technician. Most businesses are operated according to what the owner wants as opposed to what the business needs.

The three phases of a business’s growth: Infancy, Adolescence, and Maturity. If your business depends on you, you don’t own a business—you have a job. And it’s the worst job in the world because you’re working for a lunatic! The purpose of going into business is to get free of a job so you can create jobs for other people. It is therefore a critical moment in every business when the owner hires his very first employee to do the work he doesn’t know how to do himself or doesn’t want to do.

Your job is to prepare yourself and your business for growth.

A Mature company is founded on a broader perspective, an entrepreneurial perspective, a more intelligent point of view. About building a business that works not because of you but without you. A Mature business knows how it got to be where it is, and what it must do to get where it wants to go.

The Entrepreneurial Model has less to do with what’s done in a business and more to do with how it’s done. The commodity isn’t what’s important—the way it’s delivered is. Your business is not your life. Once you recognise that the purpose of your life is not to serve your business, but that the primary purpose of your business is to serve your life, you can then go to work on your business, rather than in it, with a full understanding of why it is absolutely necessary for you to do so.

Pretend that the business you own—or want to own—is the prototype, or will be the prototype, for 5,000 more just like it. Documentation says, ‘This is how we do it here'. Documentation provides your people with the structure they need and with a written account of how to ‘get the job done’ in the most efficient and effective way. What you do in your model is not nearly as important as doing what you do the same way, each and every time. Without documentation, all routinised work turns into exceptions.

Go to work on your business rather than in it, and ask yourself the following questions:

  • How can I get my business to work, but without me?

  • How can I get my people to work, but without my constant interference.

  • How can I systematize my business in such a way that it could be replicated 5,000 times, so the 5,000th unit would run as smoothly as the first?

  • How can I own my business, and still be free of it?

  • How can I spend my time doing the work I love to do rather than the work I have to do?

  • Innovation is the mechanism through which your business identifies itself in the mind of your customer and establishes its individuality.

  • Quantification is the numbers related to the impact an Innovation makes.

  • Orchestration is the elimination of discretion, or choice, at the operating level of your business

  • Once you’ve innovated, quantified, and orchestrated something in your business, you must continue to innovate, quantify, and orchestrate it.

  • Your Business Development Program is the vehicle through which you can create your Franchise Prototype.

The Program for Success is composed of seven distinct steps:

  1. Your Primary Aim

  2. Your Strategic Objective

  3. Your Organisational Strategy

  4. Your Management Strategy

  5. Your People Strategy

  6. Your Marketing Strategy

  7. Your Systems Strategy

1. Your Primary Aim

Before you can determine anything you need to know what you will stand for. You must ask yourself these questions:

1) What do I value most?

2) What kind of life do I want?

3) What do I want my life to look like, to feel like? Who do I wish to be?

  • The author believes great people are those who know how they got where they are, and what they need to do to get where they’re going.

  • Great people have a vision of their lives that they practice emulating each and every day.

  • The author believes that the difference between great people and everyone else is that great. people create their lives actively, while everyone else is created by their lives, passively waiting to see where life takes them next.

  • The difference between a warrior and an ordinary man is that a warrior sees everything as a challenge, while an ordinary man sees everything as either a blessing or a curse.

Before you start your business, or before you return to it tomorrow, ask yourself the following questions:

  • What do I wish my life to look like?

  • How do I wish my life to be on a day-to-day basis?

  • What would I like to be able to say I truly know in my life, about my life?

  • How would I like to be with other people in my life—my family, my friends, my business associates, my customers, my employees, my community?

  • How would I like people to think about me?

  • What would I like to be doing two years from now? Ten years from now? Twenty years from now? When my life comes to a close?

  • What specifically would I like to learn during my life—spiritually, physically, financially, technically, intellectually? About relationships?

  • How much money will I need to do the things I wish to do? By when will I need it?

2. Your Strategic Objective

  • Your Strategic Objective is a very clear statement of what your business has to ultimately do for you to achieve your Primary Aim.

  • How big is your vision? How big will your company be when it’s finally done? Will it be a $300,000 company? A million-dollar company? A $500-million company?

  • At the beginning of your business, any standards are better than no standards.

  • Creating money standards is not just strategically necessary for your business; it is strategically necessary for your life, for the realisation of your Primary Aim.

  • The first question you must always ask when creating standards for your Strategic Objective is: What will serve my Primary Aim?

  • How much money do I need to live the way I wish? Not in income but in assets. In other words, how much money do you need in order to be independent of work, to be free?

  • The ultimate reason to create a business of your own is to sell it.

  • An Opportunity Worth Pursuing is a business that can fulfil the financial standards you’ve created for your Primary Aim and your Strategic Objective.

  • How do you know whether you have an Opportunity Worth Pursuing? Look around. Ask yourself: Does the business I have in mind alleviate a frustration experienced by a large enough group of consumers to make it worth my while?

  • When asked what kind of business they’re in, most business owners respond with the name of the commodity they sell. Always the commodity, never the product.

  • The difference is the commodity is the thing your customer actually walks out with in his hand. The product is what your customer feels as he walks out of your business. What he feels about your business, not what he feels about the commodity.

  • Understanding the difference between the commodity and the product is what creating a great business is all about.

  • What’s your product? What feeling will your customer walk away with? What is he really buying when he buys from you?

  • People buy feelings

3. Your Organisational Strategy

  • Most companies organise around people rather than around accountability or responsibilities.”

  • The result is almost always chaos.”

  • Without an Organisational Chart, everything hinges on luck and good feelings, on the personalities of the people and the goodwill they share.

4. Your Management Strategy

  • You need a management system to successfully implement a management strategy.

  • A system is a set of things, actions, ideas, and information that interact with each other, and in so doing, alter other systems

5. Your People Strategy

  • Your people want to work for a boss who’s created a clearly defined structure for acting in the world. They want a structure through which they can test themselves and be tested. This structure is called a game.

  • The degree to which people buy into your game depends on how well you communicate the game to them at the outset of your relationship. Your People Strategy is the way you communicate this idea.

A few rules…

  1. Never figure out what you want your people to do and then try to communicate a game out of it

  2. Never create a game for your people you’re unwilling to play yourself

  3. Make sure there are specific ways of winning the game without ending it

  4. Change the game from time to time—the tactic, not the strategy

  5. Never expect the game to be self-sustaining. People need to be reminded of it constantly

  6. The game has to make sense

  7. The game needs to be fun from time to time

  8. If you can’t think of a good game, steal one

6. Your Marketing Strategy

  • Forget everything but your customer

  • Demographics and psycho-graphics are the two essential pillars supporting a successful marketing program.”

  • If you know who your customer is—demographics—you can then determine why he buys—psycho-graphics

  • If your customer doesn’t perceive he needs something, he doesn’t, even if he actually does

7. Your Systems Strategy

There are three kinds of systems in your business:

  1. Hard Systems

  2. Soft Systems

  3. Information Systems.

  • Hard Systems are inanimate, un-living things

  • Soft Systems are either animate—living—or ideas

Information Systems are those that provide us with information about the interaction between the other two.

What I took from it.

The E-Myth Revisited is a book that I can recommend to anyone who is starting out with a new business venture and all companies who are struggling to break out of the 'Infancy' phase. The test is a simple one - is the running of the day to day activity dependent on the involvement of the owner. If the answer is yes; then this book is for you. I love the idea behind working on your business and not in your business. Richard Branson said many times that when he buys or starts a new company; his primary aim is to work himself out of that company. Branson must have read E-myth Revisited.

Another important point is how systems will determine your success of failure and not people. People need to run the system and the system should be so simple that you can slot people in when required. Your mindset should be to develop a system/business that can be replicated over and over again; where customers will always have the same experience no matter where in the world they are. Even if you don't intend to ever franchising your business; it needs to be set-up/systematised as if you were.

My Rating

A must read for all small businesses starting out and for those small businesses that have become all consuming and overwhelming. This book will give you the ideas needed to enable you to set up your business in the best possible way.