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Beyond the E-Myth

Tim Johnson

Business Strategist

In his classic book E-Myth Revisited, Michael Gerber addresses two core myths about entrepreneurialism. He explains that the noun of the entrepreneurial myth, the E-Myth \ 'e-,'mith\ has two meanings;

  • The myth that most people who start small businesses are entrepreneurs, and
  • The fatal assumption that an individual who understands the technical work of a business can successfully run a business that does that technical work.

He draws upon lessons from the franchise industry and explains that in order to create a successful business you need systems and processes.

Processes are the detailed instructions of how to carry out a particular task, and the system is the designed pathway that the assembled processes create. In this way the business runs in a predictable way by design; repeatability and consistency of service are maintained, and improvements are made through regular process reviews.

He is absolutely right of course, and I hope you've come a long way down that path because unless you are clear about what your business does and systemise it and document the processes, it is likely you’ll get mission creep and start doing things beyond your businesses core competence.

It is so easy to embark upon a new opportunity, the shiny new thing because you believe it’ll be worth it, but as you keep doing that you are in effect always doing things on the hoof. You are unlikely to become truly competent, and you will not define a consistent position in the market. The result of that is you will be less able to scale up and replicate.

Conversely, if you have not done the work to systemise your business, you will be running around spinning plates, spending far too much time working in the business as an employee, and not working on the business as a director or shareholder creating long-term value.??But if, hand on heart, you have done the E-myth work, what comes next? You have scaled, replicated and repaired all the plates.

Now you face the possibility of over-emphasizing a focus on systems and processes. One result of this is that your team will easily become the equivalent of automatons, mere human machines that are easily interchangeable, like McDonalds. The question is does heavy systemization and mind-numbing routines rob people of their creativity and promise?

Is moving beyond the E-Myth about looking at how to create fulfilling ways to work?

We spend such a huge proportion of our lives at work, would it not make sense to ensure that work is as fulfilling as possible, not just for ourselves but for our team as well?

One way to do this is to use the benefits of systematisation to free up your team. Drudgery saps enthusiasm, and working inefficiently is a major drain on resources.

Rather than using your people as automatons inspire them to bring their own passions and enthusiasm to work so they can serve your customers in a more flexible and accommodating way.

Depending on how rigid your system is, this will mean that your team may need to be good at managing customer expectations or good at being able to flex the system appropriately.

Culture is key here, and that too has to be designed by choice

Culture is simply the way we do things and the attitudes, values and behaviours that go with it. ??Think about how you can use the benefits of focus and systematisation on one hand with an enabling blame-free culture, on the other hand, to encourage innovative thinking.

It is that combination that will improve your customer experience and increase you’re the potential for profit year on year.


Tim Johnson

Business Strategist

Tim Johnson helps people get business results whilst remaining true to themselves. With a combination of business strategy and personal development Tim enables your innate brilliance to be honed and polished so it can be used for greater effect. ?Co-founder of 2 multi-million pound businesses and author of 2 books.

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