I have worked in numerous job functions ranging from front-end programming to high-level business planning and execution, and lead two businesses so far. After recently reading The E-Myth Revisited I wish someone would have suggested it to me some time ago because it provides a great perspective, especially for folks like myself who are coming from a very technical background.
The author, Michael Gerber, starts by providing a nice framework with three high-level roles needed to make a business successful: technician, entrepreneur, and manager. It’s not that you need three different people to serve in these roles, but more that the individual roles need sufficient attention.
Depending on the scale of the business you can start with one person doing all three roles. The important part is that each of these roles needs conscious attention; including structure, processes, and metrics. Over time as your business grows you can use these roles as guides to hire your first employees.
I personally don’t like the “technician” terminology that’s used in the book because it has a negative connotation; especially when you compare it to the other roles. This downplays the importance of the folks with the subject matter expertise, without whom a business cannot perform. The book is fairly old as it was first written in 1986 so it could be that over time our perception of the word “technician” has become negative.
One of the recommendations that the book has is that you want to work on your business and not in it. Let that sink in…
Many skilled “technicians” start businesses thinking that having their own business will give them more control and time to work on the things that they really like. In reality, they end up with less time doing the work that they enjoyed. It’s not to say that you can’t create a business that allows the owner to work on the front line, but doing so will require deliberate planning and execution. Also, eventually you will end up becoming the bottleneck.
The author continues with the idea of creating a “franchise prototype.” Doing this forces you to clearly define the roles and responsibilities. From the modern startup perspective, this ensures that your business becomes scalable. The book goes on and discusses the needs for other “must” for successful businesses: value prop, quantification, objectives, opportunities, marketing, etc.
My intention with this post was not to summarize the book, but more to give you a flavor of what it covers. You can buy the book in pretty much any flavor (ebook, paperback, audiobook) you like, and if you don’t have enough time to read the book then I would still suggest at least checking out this summary.
2017-02-20 Update: I finally found a new title for the technician role. Check it out in the new post.