Business Book Review – The E-myth

Today, we continue our series of book reviews with a look at E-Myth, an insightful book written by Michael Gerber (a marketing genius who has built a world-wide web of products and services to help small businesses grow).

Our author today is Golibe, one of our fabulous content editors and a whiz at everything media.


Why Read The Book?

The E-myth was first recommended to me by my wife, who had the book recommended to her by the teacher in a finance class she took at her school. She told me it was all about being an entrepreneur, that her teacher said it was one of his favorite books and that she thought I’d really like it.

I must admit, as soon as I picked it up and started reading, I could tell she was going to be right. On Page 1, the author Michael Gerber makes a remark that most small business owners are working far too hard for too little return. Less work for more returns? Game. On.

Quick Overview Of The E-Myth 

The E-myth basically explores and debunks the commonly held perspectives on what it means to own one’s own small business. It exposes a way of thinking that unconsciously seems to pervade so much of the way we think and offers a refreshing perspective. As I was reading this book, I could see how much of this hard-work, low-return attitude had latched on the businesses all around me, including some that were being run by friends and family.

At the risk of sounding like a rose tinted glasses wearing drama king, there were a couple of times I felt about 50lbs lighter just by reading it. And I don’t even own a business. Not even a small one.

One helpful little feature of this book is the story of Sarah that runs through its core. At the end of each chapter, Gerber explores a different aspect of running a successful business with a vignette about Sarah, her pie shop and how Gerber’s methods brought back her back to a place of joy with regard to her business.

Based on a real client of his, I doubt his interactions with real life Sarah wrapped themselves up as neatly as they do on paper, but her story is a definite high point of the book, fleshing out his ideas and bringing the principles to life. In the name of transparency, I must admit that there were a few times, during some of the longer chapters, that the only thing that kept me going was the thought of seeing how the next episode in Sarah’s story would play out.

Insights From The Book

1 –Working ON your business rather than working IN your business

This was a big one for me. Even though I know of quite a few successful small businesses, even in my city here in Northern California, I still had the overall picture of small businesses owners as stressed out workaholics who live from month to month, through lean patches, green patches and everything else in between.

When Gerber started talking about the perspective true entrepreneurs have, one that leads allows them autonomy to oversee, strategize and maximize their business, as opposed to being permanently chained to a business that cannot cope when they aren’t there, a light bulb went off.

I, like many of you, have a keen entrepreneurial streak in me and the idea of growing a business into a multinational is more than a little bit appealing to me. The thing was, without realizing it, I figured I’d be a slave to my company until things magically clicked into place one day, allowing me to be the sharply dressed, 20 hour work week, trillionaire CEO I always dreamed of being.

Looking back, working on your business, not in it, is painfully simple, but having it articulated like it was something of an epiphany. For the record, that revelation hit Sarah really hard too.

2 – Predictability is actually good

There’s a point in the book where Gerber starts waxing lyrical with praises for McDonalds and how the behemoth franchise began. At first, it was hard for me to read because, well, I can be a bit of a food snob. Add to that the fact that a fast food chain doesn’t really go with the cutting edge, GQ vibe my future company will have, I was ready to have some pretty serious problems.

But when he boiled it down to its simplest elements, it was, again, a very simple and profound truth he was unpacking. If you want your business to succeed, then there does need to be a level of predictability to your products and services. Whether it’s a Big Mac in Chicago or a McFlurry in Cairo, McDonalds have done a great job of meeting customer expectations every single time, something that cannot be said of so many of the small little businesses I’ve frequented.

Why Read this Book?

This book isn’t going to get you connected with the latest Silicon Valley lingo, or give you a crash course in programming. Nor is it going to tell you how to source organic, fair trade, Ethiopian coffee beans for that shop you’ve always dreamed of opening. It’s not overtly aimed at the person who wants to take over the world through business either. So why read it?

Read it because it’s going to position you to make a great start on that business someday. It’s going to prevent you from falling victim to so many of the pitfalls that destroy potentially profitable businesses. Read it because it works. The first edition of this book was written 25 years ago and it continues to stand the test of time.

Interested in reading the The E-myth? Pick up your copy here!

More Interesting Reads From MC

Business Book Review: The Starbucks Experience

Four Ways to Develop Practical Business Understanding


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Filed Under: Business Books