I recently read the book, The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work and What To Do About It by Michael E. Gerber. He points out how some of our assumptions, expectations, and common advice can get in the way of making your business successful.
I believe that much of what makes a small business successful is how we need to treat our careers in order to make them everything they can be and we want them to become. One of the biggest things that we overlook when we start either a business or a career is to have a plan to get to our goal. We think that by learning the skills that the job requires, we will be successful. This just gets us a job. For some of us, that will be enough because we are only looking for a paycheck, but many of us are hoping to move up and expand. We need to take ownership of what it will take, and plan accordingly, to get to the level that we hope to achieve.
One of his earlier passages states:
Every year, over a million people in this country (United States) start a business of some sort. Statistics tell us that by the end of the first year at least 40 percent of them will be out of business.
Within 5 years, more than 80 percent of them—800,000—will have failed.
And the rest of the bad news is…
I don’t believe that the closure of a business is always failure. Sometimes it evolves into something else: a new business, a job offer, selling the company. There are many reasons a person may start a business and just because it ceases to continue does not mean that it didn’t accomplish its purpose.
One of the main points of The E-Myth Revisited is that our purpose as the owner of the business is to be devoted to working on the business, not just the work. I believe an artist or tradesman can focus on the work, but they will never be able to grow or become sustainable as a company. Gerber uses a case model to illustrate how an owner should take care in identifying what he or she wants and determine how to do it.
He describes getting your first employees and how the dynamics change. This is a good book for anyone who is thinking about starting their own business, no matter what size of company you envision.