Our topic for January is Finding your Fit and Focus. The first place to start is to understand where you stand in relation to your business. Many at GBN are small businessmen, independent agents, and entrepreneurs.
In 1986, Michael Gerber wrote the E-Myth: Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work and What to Do about it, and the E-Myth Revisited.
Gerber’s basic idea was that most small businesses are built by technicians. Technicians are good at the work, but they are not businessmen in the sense that they are interested in running the business. They tend to over-focus on the work and neglect to focus on the business. He writes:
The barber opens a barber shop.
The technical writer starts a technical writing business.
The hairdresser starts a beauty salon.
The engineer goes into the semiconductor business.
The musician opens up a music store.
All of them believing that by understanding the technical work of the business they are immediately and eminently qualified to run a business that does that kind of work.
And, it’s simply not true. (p. 13).
Gerber goes identifies three distinct roles that all small businessmen must embrace if they are to be successful: 1) The entrepreneurial role 2) The managerial role, and 3) The technical role.
Often these roles are lopsided. Small businesspeople tend to spend the majority of their time as technicians, neglecting the entrepreneurial (crafting the vision for their future) or managerial (building systems that create order and efficiency) roles. This can spell disaster. Successful entrepreneurs have to have find a balance.
As small businesses grow, they pass through predictable phases: 1) Infancy, 2) Expansion, and 3) Maturity. While technical skills are most important in infancy, managerial ability becomes primary during expansion and a broader, visionary perspective is most important in maturity.
Actionable Items:
As we begin the new year, it is time to take stock of your own situation. Ask yourself the following questions:
In my current situation, how well do I balance these roles?
Entrepreneurial (providing overall vision)
Managerial (creating systems that provide stability)
Technical (doing excellent technical work)
Write down the percentages for each of the roles above. If I am out of balance, where do I need to improve?
If I do not have particular skills that I need, where can I find them?
Note: Gerber spun off more than 20 other books from his seminal idea (for realtors, managers, contractors, architects, accountants—even veterinarians), but he put his primary idea into action. He co-wrote each of these books with professionals in each of these fields.
Gerber, M. E. (1995). The E-myth revisited. New York, NY: HarperBusiness.