I can’t wait to start my new company. I’ll have a beautiful office, and nobody to report to. I’ll be able to set my own schedule and do what I want to do. I can’t wait! That’ll happen – right?
When I started Idomeneo, way back in 2001, I have to admit – some of those high ideas were rolling around in my head. Setting my own schedule. No one to tell me what to do. Beautiful office.
Well, when I found myself in my 2nd bedroom, working like a crazy person day and night, and jumping to cater to my client’s every whim … well, then I had questions. What happened to the carefree life I had envisioned in running my own business?
I mean, sure – I was realistic (and experienced) enough to know that it wouldn’t be a cake walk – and that there would be some hard work involved. But this…..I was working 24/7, with no end in sight. And aside from that – there was no guaranteed money coming in. In fact, when I first started, there were quite a few months there was VERY little money coming in. So – where was the up side. Was I doing something wrong.
Then I found the book – the E-Myth Revisited by Michael Gerber. I started reading it, and couldn’t believe how clearly it spoke to me. You may have heard about E-Myth; it’s a really famous entrepreneur guide – and with good reason.
Now, I’m not going to do a review, or rehash every page of the book (and yes, I do advise that you grab a copy and dive in). But I am going to tell you how the concepts really helped me get Idomeneo up and on her feet.
One of the main concepts behind the book is that the E-myth is most companies are started by people with solid business skills. When in fact most companies are started by, what Michael refers to as, technicians.
And that’s what I was – a technician. Technicians are people who are highly skilled in their particular discipline – accounting, or law, or marketing, or human resources – but they don’t know squat about running a business. And, more importantly, their approach to business is from a Technician’s Perspective instead of an Entrepreneur’s Perspective.
Where an Entrepreneur would ask “How should the business work”; the Technician would ask “What work needs to be done”. Where an Entrepreneur looks at the future vision and then figures out a way to change the present to match that vision; the Technician starts with today and tries to figure out how to keep things as close to the same as possible.
Where an Entrepreneur is concerned with systemizing the business and putting in processes so it has a solid foundation to build on. The Technician is concerned with the task list, and getting today’s work done.
It’s nothing to be ashamed of. Countless, very successful, companies have been started by technicians. But the secret is that they grew into Entrepreneurs. The stopped focusing on the doing, and started focusing on the business as a whole. But don’t get me wrong – you can’t just go off and stop focusing on the doing because -well because the work still has to get done.
“…Technicians are people who are highly skilled in their particular discipline – accounting, or law, or marketing, or human resources – but they don’t know squat about running a business.“
That’s where another of the book’s concepts comes into play. Sooner or later you realize that you’ll need to get some help. Michael calls this the Adolescence phase. For me, it meant I hired my first assistant. And for a while it was amazing. He could answer the phones, and take care of those little eMail inquiries. But I was reluctant to let him work on bigger projects. After all – no one would know how to do it the way I knew how to do it. And I was right – he was confused, and occasionally frustrated.
That’s because I didn’t have strong systems in place, and virtually no procedures. It was more of a “here, let me show you what I do” kind of training – with no written procedures or guides at all. And worse yet, if or when I did it differently, I didn’t have a clear explanation for why I was doing it differently this time as opposed to last time.
Frankly, it was a mess. How in the world could I expect him to be successful.
Enter the next concept – systemizing the business. Michael talks about it this way – set your business up as though you’re going to franchise it. Have a process for everything, and a system for every process. Really, it’s a brilliant idea – if you set your business up as though you’re going to franchise it, it really drives you to organize it in a way that someone else could take over and run it.
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And again, that’s want I needed – a business that wasn’t relying on me to be the operator of the business.
Because being 1 of 1 was not only exhausting – it capped the business’ growth. And it capped it at my ability to produce. And believe me – that cap was WAY too low.
“Once you recognize that the purpose of your life is not to serve your business, but that the primary purpose of your business is to serve your life, you can then go to work on your business, rather than in it…”
Yep, Michael was the one that coined the phrase, work on your business instead of in your business. And when I read that – boy did it ring true for me.
I was pouring every minute of every day, every brain cell, every waking hour, going through my to do list, my task list. What do I need to take care of today. Time off, mentally or physically, wasn’t even a thought in my head. I was head down, barreling through the work.
Well, as I mentioned earlier – that’s not Entrepreneurial. And it caps the businesses’ growth.
You have to have some clear mind space to be (or become) a good Entrepreneur. The business becomes a prototype that can be perfectly replicated – because it’s that systemized. That’s when you get consistent quality, that’s when you can make sure nothing is falling through the cracks, that’s when you can bring on new people without missing a beat.
And you do need a team. That is – if you want to blow open the company’s potential. You can’t do it alone – none of us can. But you can have the dream you dreamed. And that happens when you become an Entrepreneur – one with a systemized business that can run without you.
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