Are You Working In Or On You Business? The E-Myth

It’s one of the most important questions a small business owner can ask themselves. “Are you working in or on your business?” This is the primary theme of Michael Gerber’s book, The E-Myth, that I read many years ago. It’s a powerful question and oftentimes small business owners that I ask this question to, don’t fully understand what I’m asking.

I was recently up in Vancouver doing some consulting. I had a limo pick me up from the airport to take me to my meeting and then to my hotel. Jacob, my limo driver, is the owner of the limo business. He has a pretty nice fleet of limos, but he was having to drive today because his business was busy, which is a nice problem to have. So, I asked him the question, “Are you working in or on your business?” Jacob replied, “Both.” I said it is an ‘or’ question, you have to pick.

Then he said, “I suppose it’s in, then.” Yes, you are correct. I then asked him if he had ever read The E-Myth by Michael Gerber. He said no. I then gave him a brief summarization of the book and the premise. I asked him what his goals for his limo business was. His reply was “I want to be the best limousine service in Vancouver.” Well, what exactly does that mean Jacob, I asked. How do you become the best? He really didn’t have an answer.

I told him that it was important to make that goal measurable. Being the best limousine service in Vancouver is one thing, but how do you know when you get there? When is the goal achieved? Jacob was beginning to understand the real question that I was asking. He knew that he was hustling and working a lot, but didn’t really see that it was making the difference he was wanting in his life for his family.

I got his business card and told him I was going to send him The E-Myth book to read and I wanted him to send me an email letting me know when he finished it and what his main take-aways were. I also asked for him to send me his 3 top goals that were well written and measurable for the next 90 days. Then 6, 12 and 18 month goals. I told him that if he would commit to doing this, I would follow up with him in 90 days. If he was still serious and working these goals, I would also give him a few 30 minute consultations on the phone at 6, 12 and 18 months.

I truly enjoy meeting entrepreneurs and hearing their stories. It inspires me to do more to mentor entrepreneurs and speak into their lives and businesses. I strive to do this when I am out doing consulting and traveling. It’s one way that I know I can reach out and share the knowledge that I have obtained over the years from my own mentors who have invested their time in me.

We’ll see if Jacob follows up and takes me up on my offer. I do hope he does. He has a great limo business in Vancouver, check it out at: Vancouver Washington limos. I think that it truly can be the best. But it’s up to Jacob…

5 Must Read Business Books

If you’re a business owner (or are looking to become one), you’ll need all the information you can get. Sure, much of this information will pertain to the nitty-gritty details of the daily running of a business. Some of it will provide insight into the workings of your competitors, giving you a better chance of beating them.

But perhaps the most useful information will come in the form of broad-stroke ideas that expand your mind and help you think in new and exciting terms. The knowledge from these 5 must read business books can be applied to any business, big or small and regardless of its type and end goal.

  1. Good to Great (Why Some Companies Make the Leap) by James C. Collins: If you’re thinking business, there’s no doubt you wondered plenty of times why some businesses make it while others don’t. Perhaps even more concerning for some, this book explains why some businesses are ‘doomed’ to remain average, despite their best efforts. Not satisfied with thinking in local terms? Good to Great might give you a ladder to climb onto the grand stage.
  2. The Innovator’s Dilemma by Clayton Christensen: This book is best digested by businessmen who are already making some progress in the field. Christensen’s Dilemma is all about leading instead of following and inventing instead of copying. More specifically, he urges business owners and strategists to get ahead by anticipating future market needs rather than focusing too much on present ones.
  3. The Art of the Deal by Donald Trump: Love him or hate him, Trump knows his business. With a fortune estimated between $4-9 billion, Trump clearly made some good deals, and would like to help you do the same. The business mogul’s book encourages you to go for deals that are truly lucrative instead of those that simply let you get by, while also warning you to stay away from bad ones. As the man himself puts it: „A bad deal is worse than no deal.“
  4. Start With Why by Simon Sinek: Compared to many other great business books, Sinek’s piece is fairly new. Published in 2011, it focuses on making you understand the importance of creativity and innovation, and has already gained widespread praise. Sinek examines many great thinkers and leaders, allowing you to find out your ‘why’ by understanding theirs. If you’re the type of businessman who wants to lead, you can’t afford to miss this book.
  5. The E Myth by Michael Gerber: While some of the books on this list focus more on concepts and mindsets, this book aims to deliver the answer to a very clear question: why do so many small businesses fail, or get nowhere near to where their owners would want them to be? If you haven’t yet started your small business and are reading this, consider yourself blessed – Gerber will tell you where so many before you went wrong, and will make you go from budding entrepreneur to savvy businessman in no time.