Post by Brian Tane
Michael Gerber’s best-selling book, “The E-Myth: Why Most Businesses Don’t Work and What to Do About It,” is one that has stayed with me over the years.
If you’ve started a business and are now at the (once unimaginable) point where you’re unable to handle the amount of work you’re receiving, the E-Myth (“Entrepreneurial Myth”) offers a road map out before your company swallows you whole. The book starts with the notion that you’re already off the ground and running but now facing an even more difficult challenge, how to grow. A basic premise is that every individual starting a company is one of three things: a Visionary, Manager, or, in most cases, a Technician. The Visionary is the idea person. The Manager knows how to run a team, and the Technician has a tangible skill, such as a hairstylist, mechanic, or, in my case, a video producer/editor. While we all start our businesses as one of these things, and dabble in the other two out of necessity, as things start to take off the question becomes, how do you handle the work? How do you keep the business going? How do you grow vs. being overwhelmed by your initial success?
CULTURE AND SYSTEMS
Gerber’s answer essentially comes down to doing two things: Set up a company culture that can be rallied around by employees and implement systems that can lead to a franchise model, using a small bake shop owner and McDonalds as two examples from different sides of the entrepreneurial spectrum. Ultimately, by creating a great company culture with clear operational systems, you will be able to fully realize your “E” dream by being able to work on your business instead of in your business.
Another theme of the book is the happiness you’ll realize once you’re working on your business vs. inside it. After all, you didn’t start a business to be fighting against it as things start to finally take off. Common thinking goes something like this: I’ve been doing everything from day one, which is why we’re successful. My clients have come to expect my signature stamp on every project. If I don’t oversee every detail and it’s not perfect, I’m going to lose my clients and go out of business.
It’s at this critical juncture that many companies grow or die. Continuing to go at it alone is not a viable option. So when you just can’t take another phone call, and you’re peering through your fingers at your inbox like a horror movie, what exactly do you do to keep the dream alive? The simple conclusion I’ve come to realize is learn to let go.
Once you’ve scaled the initial start-up mountain, have systems in place, a defined culture, principles that are ingrained into your organization, and a core group of amazing professionals, the fun of owning your own business really begins.
Your job now is to create a vision, hire, and spend your time communicating with your team. Offer all you know to them, give them space, and allow them to build on it. They will make things better than you could have done as an individual. It becomes less about you and more about the strength of multiple people working towards the same goals, guided by shared principals and ideals. This is the culture you’re building on the one hand while you begin to build systems and protocols, that enable structure and clarity, on the other.
There’s no greater pleasure for me then to see our team enjoying their work and the culture that we’re collectively creating. It’s more rewarding than any personal accolades I could receive from producing work by myself. Fifteen years into my “E” journey, I feel like my company is just getting started, with our best work undoubtedly ahead of us.
TANE is an honoree of the 2017 “Inc. 5000” award, featuring the top 5000 fastest growing private companies in America.