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The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don't Work and What to Do About It

Michael E. Gerber · 35 HN comments
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Amazon Summary
E-Myth \ 'e-,'mith\ n 1: the entrepreneurial myth: the myth that most people who start small businesses are entrepreneurs 2: the fatal assumption that an individual who understands the technical work of a business can successfully run a business that does that technical work Voted #1 business book by Inc. 500 CEOs. An instant classic, this revised and updated edition of the phenomenal bestseller dispels the myths about starting your own business. Small business consultant and author Michael E. Gerber, with sharp insight gained from years of experience, points out how common assumptions, expectations, and even technical expertise can get in the way of running a successful business. Gerber walks you through the steps in the life of a business—from entrepreneurial infancy through adolescent growing pains to the mature entrepreneurial perspective: the guiding light of all businesses that succeed—and shows how to apply the lessons of franchising to any business, whether or not it is a franchise. Most importantly, Gerber draws the vital, often overlooked distinction between working on your business and working in your business. The E-Myth Revisited will help you grow your business in a productive, assured way.
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Sep 26, 2020 · unoti on Ask HN: How to learn sales?
A great resource to get you thinking along the right lines: the book Spin Selling[1]. This book is about doing selling involving long sales cycles, where it could take you a good amount of time to close the deal. This is often the case with enterprise software.

An example of a great concept from this book that has shaped the way I approach things: You've heard of the concept of closing, where you ask the customer to buy the product. Spin selling extends that concept in the realm of a longer sales cycle that involves many steps such as demos, consulting sessions and so on. Every interaction you have with the customer has some desired outcome that eventually leads to the final sale. For example, your initial contacts with the prospect, the goal of those initial interactions is to get the demo scheduled. Or perhaps it's to introduce you to someone closer to the decision maker. In each interaction, you keep a goal in mind and close towards that goal.

Three other books that were amazing and formative for me are below. These aren't about sales in particular but about making your own business in general, which includes sales in various degrees: 2. Good to Great 3. Crossing the Chasm 4. The E Myth

Also an honorable mention goes to this book, which is more about marketing than sales: Winning Through Intimidation. The book isn't actually about intimidating people, but it's about branding, image, and approach. Despite the evil sounding title, it's an amazing resource.

[1] https://www.amazon.com/Spin-Selling-Neil-Rackham/dp/05660768... [2] https://www.amazon.com/Good-Great-Some-Companies-Others/dp/0... [3] https://www.amazon.com/Crossing-Chasm-3rd-Disruptive-Mainstr... [4] https://www.amazon.com/Myth-Revisited-Small-Businesses-About... [5] https://www.amazon.com/Winning-through-Intimidation-Victor-B...

I got a business coach, and took a small business course which connected me with other small businesses in my area. It was an invaluable lesson.

I was forced to read the book "E-Myth Revisited"[0] as my course material. It gave me incredible insight into delegating and many of the fundamental issues with running a small business.

Without my accountant and a few key, incredibly supportive clients, my business would have gone under a long time ago.

My business coach had started and sold a number of businesses, and was able to advise me on things that I would never have done on my own. Look for someone like this in your life, even if only temporarily.

My wife started helping with some aspects of the business as well, and I couldn't do it without her. You need help, period. I've trained 2 of my kids to build websites, one has moved on to college in some other industry and the other is interning at a bigger company (building websites). And I plan to teach my other kids as well, and have them help where possible.

What this taught me was that I can't do everything myself, and I don't want to anymore, it just sucks to do it on your own.

The best thing that happened recently is making friends with another local business owner, who also builds websites, but our business interests don't conflict, and we respect the others perspective a lot, so we get to hang out from time to time just to talk and have coffee. We understand the world in a way most others cannot. The struggle, the freedom and preasure, etc..

Keep looking for answers to your specific problems before giving up on your business.

[0] https://www.amazon.com/-Myth-Revisited-Small-Businesses-Abou...

Read the E-Myth. Great book about management.

I read the original, here's the newer one:

https://www.amazon.com/Myth-Revisited-Small-Businesses-About...

thisismyusernam
I'm working through it now actually thanks. Also similar but (IMHO) better-written is a new book I just started reading, called Finish Big by Bo Burlingham, which covers a lot of the same ground, with more case studies.
This is the "E-Myth Revisited" route, which to summarize is about decoupling the business from yourself and enabling other people to take "critical" work off your plate (because it really isn't that critical).[0]

[0] https://www.amazon.com/E-Myth-Revisited-Small-Businesses-Abo...

For anyone who's interested in more advice like this, your friend's trick almost certainly originates from Michael Gerber's book The E-Myth [Re-visited]. Highly recommended reading for anyone starting a small business.

On GoodReads: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/81948.The_E_Myth_Revisite...

On Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0887307280

g105b
Yes! I didn't make the connection having not read the book, but The E-Myth is another bit of advice that the same friend is always touting.

Thanks for the links, I may actually get around to reading this one soon.

Oct 31, 2016 · hga on The Checklist (2007)
I can't imagine why I haven't made the connection, but this is inherently a part of the primary thesis of the best book on starting a company I've come across, The E-Myth (https://www.amazon.com/E-Myth-Most-Small-Businesses-About/dp... and perhaps also see it's followup, which I can't vouch for: https://www.amazon.com/E-Myth-Revisited-Small-Businesses-Abo...), which says you should write down your processes as if you were going to franchise your company.
This is the 2nd (or later, somewhat re-written) edition of the book referenced: - https://www.amazon.com/E-Myth-Revisited-Small-Businesses-Abo...
Denzel
Yes, this is the book I read and was referencing. My apologies, I did not realize he released so many similar versions.
ci5er
Yeah - no worries. Except for E-myth Manganager - I didn't either until a couple of years ago my younger brother was going to open up a clinic and was talking about "E-myth for Doctors" or some such. Now I think he has one for all walks of life (like the "One minute Manager" or something). To me, it dilutes the message. My opinion is not the one that counts! :-)

I still think it (the original) is a great book.

I suspect it is this one based on the summary at Amazon "Michael Gerber's The E-Myth Revisited should be required listening for anyone thinking about starting a business or for those who have already taken that fateful step. The title refers to the author's belief that entrepreneurs--typically brimming with good but distracting ideas--make poor businesspeople."

https://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/0887307280

I strongly suggest reading The E Myth: Why Most Businesses Don't Work and What to Do About It, (https://www.amazon.com/Myth-Most-Businesses-Dont-About/dp/08...) or perhaps it's updated The E-Myth Revisited... (https://www.amazon.com/E-Myth-Revisited-Small-Businesses-Abo...).

Besides being fairly short, and having a lot of general good advice, such as, to use my own wording, making sure every essential hat is worn by someone, e.g. you probably won't start out with a CFO, but make sure one of the founders or earliest employees wears it, it goes into a thesis that you should write up a manual of how your business runs as if you were going to franchise it.

Plenty of good justification for writing this up at some level of detail can be found in the other comments in this topic, although I'll admit the book is not oriented toward high tech businesses.

But they're still businesses, and for that focus I highly recommend, probably after one or more books on customer development, which refine many of the ideas in it, Walking the High-Tech High Wire: The Technical Entrepreneur's Guide to Running a Successful Enterprise (https://www.amazon.com/Walking-High-Tech-High-Wire-Entrepren...). It's a story about a company that made and sold novel at the time discrete semiconductor devices, how they did their customer development, how they realized doing custom work for various customers was a loser, etc. It'll help reify what you'll read in good customer development books.

Every one-man software business is different.

The canonical example is Bingo Card Creator:

https://www.bingocardcreator.com/

A book you must read for perspective is

https://www.amazon.com/Myth-Revisited-Small-Businesses-About...

gwbas1c
Oh, the story of Bingo Card Creator is my inspiration!
gwbas1c
Tried reading that book, but about 95% of it is hot air. I think the author's system might be credible, but I got so tired of pages full of pointless pontificating that I had to stop reading it. The author needs to get to the point.

The book certainly is relevant for someone starting any business that will have employees; but less so for a one man business. I really like the model in "The Incredible Secret Money Machine," but it's about 25 years out of date. In essence, the author basically creates businesses like the Bingo Card Creator every 3-6 months.

I hoped other people could share their experiences with me.

The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don't Work and What to Do About It

http://www.amazon.com/The-E-Myth-Revisited-Small-Businesses/...

romanhn
Another vote for E-Myth Revisited. I went in with fairly low expectations (since most business books tend to disappoint, in my experience) and came out with some fresh perspectives on building businesses.
i have recently read 'the e myth' which i would definitely recommend especially for the business/finance/planning side of things

http://www.amazon.com/The-E-Myth-Revisited-Small-Businesses/...

Very astute observation that echoes the core message in Michael E. Gerber's brilliant The E-Myth Revisited [1]. I would add that if you're about to grow your business, you will have to find passion and inspiration in other areas in your professional life as you won't be doing the technical work you used to. Luckily, running a business means having the opportunity to explore many areas of expertise that are super interesting and rewarding, like human psychology, operations management, logistics, human resources, etc.

[1] http://www.amazon.com/E-Myth-Revisited-Small-Businesses-Abou...

It's this: http://www.amazon.co.uk/E-Myth-Revisited-Small-Businesses-Ab...

One of the best books out there on how to build and grow a business.

I recommend The E-Myth, a book that taught me to not only love process, but enjoy developing processes, evolving them, and training people up to work with them:

http://www.amazon.com/The-E-Myth-Revisited-Small-Businesses/...

It's accessible and realistic, and a good starting point for getting your mind in the right place.

Aug 26, 2013 · davidw on A Startup Reading List
That's a pretty good book, although in some ways it recapitulates a lot of this one:

https://www.amazon.com/dp/0887307280/ref=as_li_ss_til?tag=de...

Here's my summary of Built to Sell, fwiw:

http://journal.dedasys.com/2011/05/23/summary-built-to-sell-...

I like your observations, especially #1. May I recommend this book before you give it another shot? http://www.amazon.com/E-Myth-Revisited-Small-Businesses-Abou...

Related to the pivot idea, I can's seem to find an asset manager that will work for my organization. They are either tied to business processes (e.g. selling products), don't allow custom attributes, etc. I work for a non-profit tied to govt/education and we have incredibly strict rules for managing inventory. Sadly, it is all being done by Excel and is a brutal mistake prone system.

bmle
Thanks for the recommendation. I'll check it out!
Feb 21, 2013 · richeyrw on Follow Your Passion?
I'm glad more people are recognizing this truth. Though it's not like no one ever pointed it out. I would say that this was one of the central points of the E-Myth books (E for entrepreneur) http://www.amazon.com/The-E-Myth-Revisited-Small-Businesses/...

That said, it's possible "Follow your Passion!" is still a useful lie... I'm not sure, it's certainly a prevalent lie.

I've just wishlisted this on Amazon. Thanks for posting it. It follows along very well with what I'm reading from Michael Gerber's E-Myth (also a bestseller on processes)

http://www.amazon.com/E-Myth-Revisited-Small-Businesses-Abou...

Yes, a very important point. This is the central idea of The E-Myth (i.e. doing a thing and running a business that does that thing require very different skill sets).

ref: http://www.amazon.com/Myth-Revisited-Small-Businesses-About/...

The E-Myth Revisited. It's not specifically web related, but it's a great book (with a cheesy pie shop metaphor) on how to start a business that is a system you own rather than a business that owns you.

Check out the Amazon reviews, they're telling: http://www.amazon.com/E-Myth-Revisited-Small-Businesses-Abou...

MerkavaVentures
I read this book years ago and it still has a lasting impression. I agree that this is a fantastic and almost essential choice.
We had similarly high aspirations when launching our wedding business, http://trulyweddingfavors.com. Your post brings me back to the enthusiasm we had for disrupting the wedding industry. As a web application developer myself, I was looking for an industry that I felt we'd have an edge in, and wedding products/services seemed to be dominated by the technical and design challenged.

We have been successful in a general sense, generating about $350k in revenue at the end of our first year. After reaching this point, we realized the marketing game was where the real successes and failures were determined. In the wedding business, your customers won't look for you until that very moment they need your product, during the planning stages of a wedding. If your ad or search listing isn't in the top X, all the creativity in the world won't matter.

We continue operating http://trulyweddingfavors.com at a healthy margin, but are focused on innovating in other markets with more viral potential.

If there's one tip I could offer: read "the e-myth" ;)

http://www.amazon.com/E-Myth-Revisited-Small-Businesses-Abou...

So you are billing out 110k a year which is 733 or less hours per work a year.

Somewhere between 110k and 733 hours of labor is an asset you are just looking to throw away.

If you look at subbing it out to someone else(though they get full source, i mean they have to) and if you pay this/these guys 60/hr, you are looking at paying out around 44k-ish a year plus lazy bloat so probably 60k a year.

You should hopefully realize you have built something pretty awesome, you are just missing the steps covered by: http://www.amazon.com/E-Myth-Revisited-Small-Businesses-Abou...

which basically means that you need to put processes into your system where you can sub yourself out as needed and someone else can handle this. Support requests and RFQs going to your personal email aren't conducive to this. Using things like zendesk, some other support app etc would be really beneficial.

So really you have 25k a year + a hose of consulting money you can divvy up/spray around as you see fit.

You really have something cool here, you should value it correctly. People buy jobs all the time, isn't that what college is all about?

barmstrong
e-myth is a great book to check out

another one I liked is: http://www.amazon.com/Built-Sell-Turn-Your-Business/dp/09864...

hartror
Excellent point and I hope webdev2010 pursues it. I'd just like to add a cautionary note that shifting a business to this footing takes time and that in all likelihood there will be bumps in the road. But having a relatively large relatively passive income while at grad school would be totally worth it.
I've started reading The E-Myth Revisited (http://www.amazon.com/E-Myth-Revisited-Small-Businesses-Abou...). Someone recommended it pretty highly on one of the previous HN book threads.

I wish I'd read it two start-ups ago. It's downright scary how well he describes the exact path my companies took.

hga
I believe that was me, although I wasn't sure how generally useful it would be for technology startups (the biggest lesson in the first edition was to build your business like you were going to franchise it; you can't really reduce software development into a franchise plan).

What sort of companies were/are your startups?

mahipal
They were mobile software start-ups, and certainly there were plenty of other reasons that I left them behind.

But the pattern he describes maps pretty well to my companies. As a Technician, I started a company focused around building what I loved to build (good software). To a certain point, it's easy for N co-founders to keep juggling all the balls that comprise running a business (rather than just writing code). This is the "Infancy Phase," and all was well, just as he describes.

It was the "Adolescent Phase" of the business where everything fell apart. All the various things we were juggling became too much, and they started to fall by the wayside. In my specific companies, I think a big cause of this was trying to do too much in terms of product.

And so I followed one of the paths he predicts--I threw my hands up, and started small again with a new company. The revelation that did it was pretty much exactly what he writes:

    You realize something you've avoided all these years...
    You don't own a business--you own a job... the worst job in the world!
    You can't close it when you want to... You can't leave it when you want to...
    You can't sell it when you want to, because who wants to buy a job?
If you're talented and get frustrated with stupid people, you have to read "Musashi" by Eiji Yoshikawa. I mean, you have to.

Musashi was one of the greatest (maybe the greatest) swordsman of all time. He invented a Japanese longblade/shortblade mixed style of swordsmanship, at one point fighting himself out of an ambush when he was attacked by over 30 men. He was undefeated in over 60 duels, including defeating arguably the second best swordsman in Japan at the time while fighting with a wooden oar he carved into a rough swordlike shape.

Here's Musashi's Wikipedia page:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Miyamoto_Musashi

The book by Eiji Yoshikawa is historical fiction - it's period accurate and follows all of Musashi's most well known story. It fills in some other details we don't know of Musashi's life - how he might have trained, some minor scuffles with bandits of the day, and it added a love story.

The book is exceptional. Musashi has immense amounts of raw talent, but is in conflict with himself in the world, arrogant, keeps getting into problems and trouble until he comes to more mastery and wisdom. Seriously, I read a lot, and this is hands-down my favorite book of all time. It's a hell of an enjoyable read, really pleasant and beautiful, fun and adventurous, but also filled with deep wisdom. It's a great swashbuckling story, but also teaches you about thinking critically, tactics, strategy, training, tradeoffs, and so on. Just a masterpiece. Easily the most influential book of my life.

No affiliate link:

http://www.amazon.com/Musashi-Eiji-Yoshikawa/dp/4770019572

Whilst on subject, I'll also recommend Husain Haddawy's translation of Arabian Nights, which is uproariously funny and also contains a lot of wisdom, and "The E-Myth Revisited" by Michael Gerber, which I consider the Bible of small business. I buy a copy of E-Myth and make anyone I'm going to partner with read it before I'll do business with them.

Arabian Nights:

http://www.amazon.com/Arabian-Nights-Norton-Critical-Edition...

E-Myth:

http://www.amazon.com/E-Myth-Revisited-Small-Businesses-Abou...

Edit: Wow, that's quite a few upvotes pretty quickly. If you pick a copy of one of these and enjoy it, feel free to shoot me an email if you want to chat about it. These books have been huge for my life, and not enough people read, so I don't get to talk books as much as I'd like. Also, people with similar tastes feel free to make recommendations either commenting here or by email. Lurkers too! I'm always looking for great books.

grinich
Will you post an affiliate link?

If you recommend a good book to me, I'd like you to get a kickback.

How do others feel about affiliate links? I've created an Ask HN on the topic: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=1227196

allantyoung
I don't mind this suggestion at all. If the recommendation is germane to the topic and helps increase my choices and understanding, better to let someone make some money of Amazon.

On another note. Could the author of the parent (froo) put together a shared Google Doc of all recommended books that didn't get negative total points?

lionhearted
Interesting thought. I just posted "Suggest to HN: A Hacker News Amazon Affiliate Link" -

http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=1227254

Basically, I don't recommend enough books to bother with an affiliate link, but if someone on the HN/YCombinator team would register a link, I'd voluntarily add it to my recommendations. It is a bit wasteful to leave the potential affiliate commission on the table when it could go to something valuable. People can discuss in that thread.

And Paul, if you're reading this, what's your take? I figure a bit of extra resources in the way of free books couldn't hurt, and it might add up. I reckon a lot of the community would be happy to give back that way.

ulo
Opening lines of Musashi:

Takezo lay among the corpses. There were thousands of them. "The whole world's gone crazy," he thought dimly. "A man might as well be a dead leaf, floating in the autumn breeze."

nekopa
I have to add that people should also read The Book of Five Rings that was written by Musashi. I can't count the number of times I have bought and given away this book. Especially the translation done by Thomas Cleary. Cleary adds another text into the mix "The Book of Family Traditions on the Art of War" by Yagyu Munenori, a contemporary of Musashi, but from a very different circle, so you get a nice contrast, and I believe it shows you how simplicity wins(5 rings). But both are excellent reads.
Emore
I must say you really sold the Musashi book to me. Definitely going to buy it next time I buy books. Thanks.
lionhearted
> I must say you really sold the Musashi book to me. Definitely going to buy it next time I buy books. Thanks.

You're going to love it :) I damn near never guarantee someone is going to love a book, but I figure almost anyone here would. Everyone, literally everyone I'd recommended or gifted a copy of Musashi too is crazy about the book.

At the risk of getting way ahead of myself, Taiko by the same author is quite good too, but larger in scope - more characters, more history, a bit more work but still a good story. If you really like Japan or Yoshikawa's writing style, check that out afterwards. But for now, you're in good hands with Musashi. Feel free to drop me an email if you've got thoughts as you're reading, my email is in my profile.

alanthonyc
On a related note, there was recently a documentary-ish show on (History Channel|Discovery|other similar channel) about Musashi Miyamoto, titled "Samurai."

I'm definitely picking up the Yoshikawa book though. Thanks for the recommendation.

signa11
> If you're talented and get frustrated with stupid people, you have to read "Musashi" by Eiji Yoshikawa. I mean, you have to.

you might also find the 3 mushashi set of movies by Hiroshi-Inagaki pretty nice. i certainly enjoy them a lot...

Toshirô-Mifune plays samurai roles with elan

rsheridan6
Musashi has been adapted into a manga ("Vagabond") and a movie trilogy (the "Samurai" trilogy) for the time-challenged.
realitygrill
I've enjoyed all the fictionalized accounts, but I think that if you want to learn from Musashi, you should read him directly. That's the Go Rin no Sho aka The Book of Five Rings. Nekopa has recommended the Cleary translation. I will recommend Hidy Ochiai's version, A Way to Victory: The Annotated Book of Five Rings. The annotations and analysis (after each book) really help get a sense of Musashi. Some points that stood out to me, considering that I'd read several other translations before:

His absolute priority on winning. It's not that his style is the best way to win, it's that his style is based around winning. The whole point of the book is winning! You always have to win, by any means necessary. It's very bald; the text is peppered with bits like

A tenet of my teaching is that one must win regardless of the length of the sword one uses, so I do not dictate the length of the sword. The ultimate objective of my style is to be prepared to win, no matter what weapons are involved.

and somewhat disconcertingly,

When applying martial strategy to the world of leadership, it is important that you make the acquaintance of people of good character; that you become a good leader to others; that you conduct yourself in a correct manner; that you govern people well; that you take good care of others; that you follow and maintain the laws and customs of the land for the sake of order; and that you never take second place to anyone in whatever you engage.

It's also noted that while Musashi did take on well-known opponents, especially Sasaki Kojiro, he also never dueled with several other extremely famous samurai in the same period. Ochiai notes that it is entirely consistent with his strategy to not fight if you think you will not win.

Directness and simplicity: As I sit down here to begin writing this book, I do not intend to use any archaic words from the scriptures of Buddhism or Confucianism, nor will I depend on the examples of various writings of old war chronicles and battle tactics. Musashi also considers the idea of dividing techniques into basic and advanced stupid, although he concedes that you should teach what's easiest for a beginner first, depending on the person.

Humility: However, after the age of thirty, I started to reflect on my experiences and began to wonder whether or not my victories were attributable to my natural ability, sheer luck, or the inferior techniques of those whom I had defeated, rather than my true understanding of the principle of martial strategy.

Once I became enlightened by the true meaning of martial strategy, I ceased to have any real interest or desire in the worldly affairs.

Strangely individualistic: Ochiai writes, "It’s true that Musashi intended to teach his readers to be victorious in one-to-one combat as well as in war involving armies. But if you read the book carefully, with an open mind and sincere attitude, it becomes clear that Musashi’s teaching goes far beyond that. His philosophy can be summarized as ji-riki; the power of each individual that emanates from within oneself. Musashi believed that ji-riki must be cultivated and empowered through constant effort and training. With correct understanding, his messages become concrete and personal, directly relating to the problems of living – to the human being who struggles and strives for individual achievement."

Spirit of discovery: It is not enough that you read what is written here, you must train as hard as if you were the one who developed the doctrine, instead of being the one who had it given to you. Train constantly as if you were the source of the discovery of the Way. Avoid mere imitation or learning without sincerity.

lionhearted
Yes, the Go Rin no Sho is excellent. This is my favorite quote from it:

"The primary thing when you take a sword in your hands is your intention to cut the enemy, whatever the means. Whenever you parry, hit, spring, strike or touch the enemy's cutting sword, you must cut the enemy in the same movement. It is essential to attain this. If you think only of hitting, springing, striking or touching the enemy, you will not be able actually to cut him."

In the last few months, my focus has been 90% on the software.

What I did with the dealership is Im more or less, followed the advice in E-Myth (http://www.amazon.com/E-Myth-Revisited-Small-Businesses-Abou...) and created position contracts for all our employees (7 of them now.) This has cut my involvement in the dealership tremendously. Now, I only put out fires, make sure management is going smoothly and handle some of the accounting.

At the head of the dealership is my brother, whom I trust. He makes sure that all manuals are updated and are followed. I make sure his position contract is followed.

This way of doing things will be much harder if you don't have a partner that you can trust to handle his part. Specially when things start growing.

Walking the High-Tech High Wire: The Technical Entrepreneur's Guide to Running a Successful Enterprise by David Adamson, http://www.amazon.com/Walking-High-Tech-High-Wire-Entreprene...

The best tech startup book I've read, by a founder of a company that came up with a unique semiconductor device. They had to create their market (it had great advantages but they had to convince EEs to do something unconventional), they had to discover what made them money (selling parts or services (consulting)), etc.

If your company is going to have a lot of people and has repeatable processes (i.e. you're not developing software) The E-Myth by Michael Gerber or I suppose its revision (which I haven't read): http://www.amazon.com/E-Myth-Revisited-Small-Businesses-Abou...

He suggests that you build up any company of this nature as if you're going to franchise it.

He also has a lot of other good advice; one that comes to mind is to make sure that there's a head for every "hat", i.e. make sure every critical function is the responsibility of someone, don't let anything fall through the cracks simply because of oversight.

At the other end of the spectrum, it's no accident that Robert X. Cringely's Accidental Empires: How the Boys of Silicon Valley Make Their Millions, Battle Foreign Competition, and Still Can't Get a Date is still in print: http://www.amazon.com/Accidental-Empires-Silicon-Millions-Co...

Read/skim it if for nothing else but the lesson of how Intel, after it had gotten quite big almost died due to the innocent well intentioned actions of one man. He makes the point that high tech companies, even if they enter the Fortune 500, aren't like "normal" ones.

There's the conceit that when a company gets big enough, no one person can kill it. His example is only one of many you can find where screwing up at the technical level can with frightening speed put a high tech company on a terminal path (see the recent "When the elves leave Middle Earth" HN item for another example of this: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=1007750).

The E-Myth (the E stands for Entrepreneur): http://www.amazon.com/E-Myth-Revisited-Small-Businesses-Abou...

Derek Sivers has a good collection of his notes (and many other biz-centric books) here: http://sivers.org/book/EMythRevisited

His opening line nails it: "Everything needs to be a system. Think of your business as a franchise prototype. You should be able to hand the "how-to" manual to just anyone, to do it as good as you."

lionhearted
> The E-Myth (the E stands for Entrepreneur): http://www.amazon.com/E-Myth-Revisited-Small-Businesses-Abou....

A thousand times yes. I make everyone I'm going to work with read it before working with them. It really gets to the heart of what businesses do right and wrong, and how to build an organization correctly based on systems instead of based on personality. Very important.

jason_tko
Absolutely yes. Really makes a huge difference to think about things in the Entrepreneur/Technician/Manager frame, and things make a lot more sense.
Seconded - great piece. It speaks of the dangers of loving the product or service while neglecting the business side of things.

"The dream of running a small cafe has nothing to do with the excitement of entrepreneurship or the joys of being one's own boss—none of us would ever consider opening a Laundromat or a stationery store, and even the most delusional can see that an independent bookshop is a bad idea these days. The small cafe connects to the fantasy of throwing a perpetual dinner party, and it cuts deeper—all the way to Barbie tea sets—than any other capitalist urge. To a couple in the throes of the cafe dream, money is almost an afterthought. Which is good, because they're going to lose a lot of it."

That happens to a lot of good people, sadly. Michael Gerber covers it pretty well in "The E-Myth Revisited", which I consider the Bible for small business owners. I make anyone I work with read it before we work together. Any entrepreneurial-minded person who hasn't read it would do well to check it out. Amazon, no affiliate link:

http://www.amazon.com/E-Myth-Revisited-Small-Businesses-Abou...

My favorite is Michael Gerber's "E-Myth Revisited". It lays down the foundation of a good business in a way most entrepreneurs connect with. Very well-written, simple, gets points across concisely, very valuable.

http://www.amazon.com/E-Myth-Revisited-Small-Businesses-Abou...

(no affiliate link there)

Great book - my most highly recommended and most frequently gifted business book.

There are a couple of issues here.

1) to get better at selling, one of the first things to do is more practice [1] at selling.

2) there are some skills to learn, and these skills are "soft" ones - which typically receive disdain in techie culture [2].

Last year, I ran for public office. I discovered to my surprise that I interviewed [3] poorly. This explains why I've had difficulty getting hired in the past. I plan to join Toastmasters later this year (when my schedule opens up) to help correct this.

Some books:

Outfoxing the small business owner. Cynical, salesman oriented book. Decent insight into the psychology of many small business owners. http://www.amazon.com/Outfoxing-Small-Business-Owner-Relatio...

E-Myth revisited. We all have cultural baggage about what a business is, and isn't. And for many businesses, that baggage gets in the way of actually getting work done, or getting ahead as a business. http://www.amazon.com/E-Myth-Revisited-Small-Businesses-Abou...

Notes:

1 - If you've got a good feedback loop for yourself, then any practice, good or bad, will help (aka: practice makes perfect). If your feedback loop tends to the same sort of self deception that most people have, then I recommend finding a coach (aka: repetition will cement bad practices, only perfect practice makes perfect).

2 - translation: "dude, you're turning into a SUIT!" (with audible disdaining tone used for last word).

3 - While interviewing for a job, and interviewing in the media share the same name, they're different enough that books aimed at helping one tangentially help the other. But at least I now have a brilliant retort to "what is your greatest weakness?" A: I found that I interview poorly.

I'll highly recommend this book:

http://www.amazon.com/E-Myth-Revisited-Small-Businesses-Abou...

It talks about setting up clear roles and expectations from the beginning. Contracts typically aren't worth the paper they're printed on - where you're at in life right now, you're not going to go to court if you fall out with someone. Contracts protect you a bit if you're further along, but a contract isn't worth a damn thing without a good relationship and clear expectations. The most important thing a contract can do is to lay out clearly, in writing, what you both expect to do and have roles set up. But so many of your assumptions will likely be wrong that you might have to redraw some elements of it over time. It happens - but getting down who does what, when, where, and how they're measured is huge. A basic operating agreement goes a long way. Check out E-Myth, it reads fast. Probably my favorite book on small business ever.

My favorite book on conflict management, and dealing with bad situations as they're happening rapidly and getting to their root causes:

http://www.amazon.com/Difficult-Conversations-Discuss-what-M...

My favorite book on small business and why things usually go wrong:

http://www.amazon.com/E-Myth-Revisited-Small-Businesses-Abou...

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