This is a strangely very familiar book. Since I made the active decision to improve myself as a businessman, this book has probably been referenced and recommended more than any other. Having never read it, just before Christmas I decided that over the break I would take this from my bookshelf and give it the attention it deserves. Imagine my surprise when I realised that I don’t even possess a copy of this book. Our marketing guru, David Shaw, stepped in and donated his copy to the BCS business book library.
The E-Myth describes the mythical existence of the entrepreneur. Michael talks about the three roles that exist within any business owner of the ‘technician’, ‘manager’ and ‘entrepreneur’, with a clear understanding that for any business to succeed all three functions must be adequately resourced, even after the business has started trading.
Most businesses are started with passion and some from necessity. At the point of inception, the business is alive with the blood of the entrepreneur. Mostly technician led start-ups are created to cut ‘the boss’ out of the loop, with limited understanding of the perspective of that role.
At some point the founder and business owner ends up spending all their working time back in the comfortable and safe ‘technician’ role. When the business gets busy, the next recruits are most likely to be more technicians to help and share the work of the technician role. This is where things get tricky for many businesses as the busier the owner is training technicians to ‘do’, the less chance of ever revisiting the important function of being an entrepreneur and thinking about tomorrow’s opportunities. There is rarely budget to hire a ‘manager’ to stop this mess. Michael offers a few suggestions to get out of this situation, but as you may quickly realise, it’s better to not even get to this juncture.
Michael goes on to talk about the franchise prototype and how a business is best run if you could at a moment’s notice replicate the whole thing, like you would need to if you sold it as a franchise. Essentially documenting processes into an ‘operations manual’ to create standardisation of quality service delivery, at a controlled unit cost. Ten years ago, BCS was managed without very much structure from a delivery point of view, but it’s interesting to see how much work our leadership team has now put into exactly this type of standardisation of delivery. This book has proven there is more work to do at BCS and I will be recommending the team give this book their attention too.
There is a large section in the book around organisational charts. I am a massive fan of scalable business charts and for many years I was a name all over our company chart, gently replacing myself over time and as our maturity allowed. Michael makes the critical point that the chart needs to separate out the owners of the business from the reporting and accountability roles.
I can’t believe it took me so long to pick this book up, but once I did I couldn’t put it down. Most of what I took from this book was the realisation that the ideas discussed have been taken and reused in other books over the last twenty years (that I have read already) and that I have put most of these suggestions into good use within my business, kindly thanking other authors for what may have been Michael’s ideas. Oops!