When I ran a small photography business, I heard colleagues recommend “The E-Myth Revisited” time and time again. Yet, years went by, I closed my business due to low revenue, and still, I had not read the book.
Until this past week, when I remembered that the book was collecting dust under my bed. I got down on my hands and knees to fish it out and give it a read. I could not put it down. This book has forever changed how I view business, whether it’s a small one-person shop or a large Fortune 500 corporation.
My favorite concept in the book is the idea of building a prototype. Imagine you are looking to franchise your business. You need to create the structure and systems so that anyone could buy the franchise and successfully run the business.
Create an organization chart with the various positions that are necessary for your business to run (e.g. CEO, CFO, VP Marketing, VP Operations, etc.). Each of those positions needs defined responsibilities and expectations as well as an Operating Manual so that anyone could jump into that position and be successful.
“But wait,” you say. “I’m the only person who works in my business. This won’t help me.” Yes, it will. Instead of arriving at work and just “getting to work,” having distinct positions can help you be intentional about your time. Instead of running around haggard only to feel like you got nothing done at the end of the day, you will intentionally put on the appropriate “hat” and work on a specific goal before moving on.
Why did my photography business close up shop? Because I never wore my marketing hat and would only wear my CFO hat when I scrambled to find documents for taxes. I never wore my CEO hat and took the time to strategically plan the trajectory of my business.
The only hat I wore was that of a photographer, assuming that if my pictures were good enough, they would sell themselves. So I spent all of my time and money focused on that vague goal. I worked 50-60 hours every week, often with nothing to show by the end of the week.
As Zig Ziglar said, “If you aim at nothing, you will hit it every time.”
Having defined roles in a one-person business aids with focus. As you hire people, they can step into these defined roles to lighten your load. With clearly stated goals, responsibilities and expectations, you are giving a new employee the tools to succeed.
This concept applies to any type of organization, even at a volunteer level. I’ve been thinking about setting up a playgroup for my son to get some play time and for me to network with other parents and make friends. My first thought was to run head first and immediately schedule events. But after reading “The E-Myth,” I’ve realized I should first create defined positions, even if I serve in every position at the beginning. It gives other parents the opportunity to step up and host activities that suit their interests. By having set positions and defined expectations for each position, the group can grow to a point of having several events per week without me feeling frazzled and overbooked.
I would recommend this book to anyone who leads a business or organization. Seriously. No need for years to pass and you to go out of business before reading it. 🙂 It could completely shatter and rebuild how you define and operate a business.
Book review of “The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work and What to Do About It” by Michael E. Gerber.