Everyone in private business has heard of Michael E. Gerber, legendary business guru and author of the mega-bestseller, The E-Myth Revisited.
You may also have heard that Michael has just released a new book, Beyond the E-Myth. It’s his first book in a while so there’s been plenty of hype around its recent launch.
A couple of months ago, I had the privilege of chatting at length with Michael as he was adding his final touches to Beyond the E-Myth. We talked about the trials and tribulations of private business ownership, the challenges of building a business and why most business owners don’t get rewarded for their blood, sweat and tears when they exit. Most importantly, we talked about the epiphany that led to Michael writing his new book.
Here’s my take on Beyond the E-Myth; its importance to the private business sector, its potential impact on society generally and why I think it’s destined to become another iconic business book.
To understand why Michael and his work have been so influential for decades you need to look first at Michael himself.
Inc. Magazine calls Michael “the World’s #1 Small Business Guru”, an entrepreneurial and small business thought leader who has impacted the lives of millions of individuals and hundreds of thousands of businesses worldwide over the last four decades.
That’s all true, but it doesn’t explain the magic of Michael E. Gerber. I think it comes down to one quality that’s all too rare these days: tough love.
Michael loves business owners and is completely committed to helping every single one of them. In fact, he cares so much he will do virtually anything to get you to succeed.
Anyone who has spoken with Michael, attended one of his events or listened to one of his many interviews knows exactly what Michael’s contagious, tough love feels like. He teaches, berates, challenges, encourages, agitates, provokes, lectures and inspires, pretty much in equal measure and in his unique, larger than life way. And that’s the real magic of Michael E. Gerber and why his work has been so influential for so long.
There are few business books that fundamentally change the way people think about business. Only a handful of business books reveal timeless, previously overlooked, businesses truths or provide revolutionary new thinking about business.
And, of those that do, an even smaller number convey those business truths and revolutionary thinking in such an engaging and captivating way that they become embedded in the hearts and minds of millions of business owners.
The E-Myth Revisited is one of those rare books. I think Beyond the E-Myth will be too.
Beyond The E-Myth completes Michael’s E-Myth trilogy – the first two being The E-Myth Revisited and Awakening the Entrepreneur Within. Together they form a powerful, inspiring body of work that will endure and shape business thinking for years to come.
What impresses me most about the E-Myth trilogy is the way each book builds on the foundations previously set and then goes to a new level.
- Michael’s mega-bestseller, The E-Myth Revisited, was born out of his coal face consulting work with hundreds of business owners.
It revealed for the first time the myth that most business owners aren’t entrepreneurs and don’t actually run a business, they simply traded a job for self-employment. It then provides the solution for building a real business – to work on your business not in your business.
These two fundamental business truths have become so much a part of conventional business thinking that it’s easy to overlook their power and importance. They are as true and important today as they ever were. Any new business owner who ignores them is highly unlikely to build a great business. It’s also easy to forget it was Michael who first revealed these fundamental business truths to the business community.
- The second book, Awakening the Entrepreneur Within, contains Michael’s unique “Dreaming Room” concept which provides business owners with a clear roadmap and process for creating a business with a clear vision, compelling purpose and meaningful mission.
- The last book, Beyond the E-Myth, is deceptively short. While characteristically provocative and engaging, it distils Michael’s insights from wrestling for decades with the challenges and aspirations of business owners in a more powerful and concentrated way. With its balance, elegance and more nuanced approach it feels more authoritative than his earlier books.
In Beyond the E-Myth, Michael reveals his latest epiphany; that entrepreneurs should see themselves as inventors, whose sole purpose is to build a “grand and growing company – a product – which will ultimately be sold to a buyer who falls madly in love with it”. And to achieve that they need to build a business that can scale quickly and resiliently, because, as he says, “no scale, no sale”.
Great business books often bring into focus issues that are still only flickering at the edge of public consciousness. In launching Beyond the E-Myth, Michael has emphasised the opportunity to apply the E-Myth principles to permanently transform the state of private business world-wide and in doing so create an economic revolution.
This is a powerful idea at an important juncture in world history:
- After World War 2, business boomed. As a result, most Western economies experienced sustained growth and prosperity and the average person’s standard of living rose rapidly.
- Over recent decades, however, this economic advantage has been progressively eroded in Western economies due to globalisation, free trade, the internet and, more recently, industry disruption and automation.
- In the second half of 2016, the world watched in shock and disbelief as the UK voted to leave the European Union and America elected maverick businessman Donald Trump as their next president.
- A driving factor in these events was the widespread disillusionment among voters in the ability of big business (with its perpetual scandals, toxic workplaces and retrenchments) and mainstream politics to deliver jobs, opportunities and economic prosperity. There is no doubt many other Western economies are experiencing similar tensions.
While the private business sector is uniquely placed to potentially provide solutions to these challenges, ironically, it’s also on the verge of facing its own biggest challenge as baby boomer business owners, who own the majority of private businesses, head towards retirement. Some commentators are predicting a virtual tsunami of private business owners seeking to exit their businesses over the next 10 years.
And this is where Michael’s call for private business owners to focus on building highly scalable businesses with the clear purpose of selling them is so important and potentially powerful. It’s a message that needs to be conveyed to a broader audience.
All business owners who have built their business with vision and purpose aspire to leave a legacy when they pass their business to a new owner. Michael has every reason to be enormously proud of the magnificent body of work he has provided to the world in the form of his E-Myth trilogy.
So do yourself a favour this Christmas; get a copy of Beyond the E-Myth and read it. If it resonates with you, think about whether you’re up for Michael’s challenge of helping to realize his vision for a world-wide economic revolution driven by private business.