The “E” Myth

Succumbing to the E myth mentality: The Most Common Fatal Flaw for Small Businesses “When you wear too many hats, you are a liability to yourself and your business!”

Building a business takes three unique skill sets:

  1. The entrepreneur supplies the vision
    • The entrepreneur asks the question: “How must the business work?”
    • The entrepreneurial perspective sees the business as a system for producing outside results for the customer, resulting in profits.
  2. The manager supplies order and systems
    • The manager asks the question: “What needs to be done to accomplish the work?”
  3. The technician supplies the output
    • The technician asks the question: “What work has to be done?”
    • The technician’s perspective sees the business as a place in which he/she works to produce inside results for the purposes of producing income.

Entrepreneur vs Technician: A mindset that opens the door to liability

  • According to Michael E. Gerber, “The challenge of every Entrepreneur and Technician is to maintain the right balance of views to get things done, win in the marketplace, and keep everyone happy.
  • As startups grow, they quickly realize that they need a third personality, called the Manager, to build systems and processes.
  • According to Small Business Voices in the Boston BBB, the Difference between entrepreneurs and the self-employed [aka Technicians]:
    • “Often seen as one in the same, an entrepreneur and a person who is self-employed may share the similarity of owning a business, but beyond that they begin to stray down vastly different paths…
    • …these two roles intertwine as business owners. But when taking a deeper look we see the major difference being that the self-employed are the business, where as an entrepreneur operates a business.”

The Self-employed

  • Works for oneself as a freelancer or the owner of a business rather than for an employer.
  • Starts the company based on a skill or particular set of skills and finds that the opportunity to make money arises.
  • This is where the crash course in business begins. From insurance and licenses to accounting and marketing soon many owners are smothered in the infinite amount of hours required to keep the business alive.
  • While many individuals are still the “owners” of the business, they typically carry all the responsibilities of an employee.
  • This combination of duties can create many limitations on the success of the business.
  • Essentially working anywhere from 2-10 jobs [the ‘many hats], often the self-employed are overworked, underpaid and lucky to get a few days off a year.

What’s Your Perspective?

Self-Employed Technician

  • Good at what you do
  • ‘Doing’ the business rather than ‘running’ the business

Entrepreneurial Business Owner

  • Good at what you do
  • Starts out by ‘Doing’ the business with the goal of ‘Running’ the business
  • Seeks the ‘light at the end of the tunnel’

The 3rd Perspective: The Manager

  • According to Gerber,  “The Manager craves order, and often ends up cleaning up after the other two.”

The 3 phases of a business

  1. Infancy — when the technician wears all the hats.
  2. Expansion — when better management skills are required.
  3. Maturity — where an entrepreneurial perspective is needed.

Options for shoring up your business

  • Get a business advisor outside of your industry & mentor in your industry
    • SBA has Small Business Development Centers at Universities and Jr. Colleges [FREE]
  • Consider franchising or joining a cooperative
  • Develop a strong network with other like-minded, successful business owners
  • Join organizations outside your direct industry that expand your business knowledge.