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The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don't Work and What to Do About It Paperback – October 14, 2004
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"Rebound" by Kwame Alexander
Don't miss best-selling author Kwame Alexander's "Rebound," a new companion novel to his Newbery Award-winner, "The Crossover,"" illustrated with striking graphic novel panels. Pre-order today
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"Gerber loves to exhort people to develop powerful visions for theircompanies." -- Fortune
"Thanks to Gerber l have freed up over three hours a day, significantly increased my sales, more than doubled my bottom line, and been able to take my first vacation in four years." -- Trish Lind, T. Lind Graphics, St. Paul, Minnesota
"Without a doubt, the most important message for our company over thenext decade." -- The John Hancock Insurance Group
About the Author
Michael E. Gerber is a true legend of entrepreneurship. INC. magazine called him "the World's #1 Small Business Guru." He is the Co-Founder and Chairman of Michael E. Gerber Companies—a group of highly unique enterprises dedicated to creating world-class start-ups and entrepreneurs in every industry and economy—a company that transforms the way small business owners grow their companies and which has evolved into an empire over its history of nearly three decades.
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What's this New Age mumbo jumbo doing in a business book? Your guess is as good as mine.
Gerber's thesis stripped of all this fluff is quite simple and unremarkable. He notes that most small business owners who see themselves as entrepreneurs are actually technicians; skilled workers in the production of whatever their business's product happens to be. Generally they lack management capability as well as true entrepreneurship - the envisioning of a primary aim and strategic objective and the development of a systems approach that will consistently produce the desired results. Gerber exhorts small business owners to see the big picture, take on the true entrepreneurial role, and in so doing, to work on, rather than in, their businesses.
While this is good common sense advice, the assertion that any business can (or should) be reduced to a McDonald's like franchise prototype oversimplifies and distorts reality. The promise of powerful results that will automatically be achieved upon donning just the right color of a suit and tie and delivering a canned sales script is alluring but also dangerous. Things in the real world of business are not nearly as simple and mechanistic as Gerber would have us believe.
I found the dialogue that runs throughout the book between the author and Sarah, the struggling proprietor of All About Pies, (a bakery), to be exceedingly annoying. In it, Gerber presents as a powerful and all knowing Svengali, weaving a hypnotic spell as he counsels his disciple in matters of the life and death of her business. Sarah is utterly compliant, totally receptive, and seems almost to be ravished by Gerber's surpassing prowess and wisdom. The smarmy tone of this is evident in quotations such as the following:
"I could see that Sarah got it.
I could see that the flush on her cheeks now had nothing to do with the work she'd been doing all day.
I could see that her dark, intelligent, creative eyes were riveted on mine, and that the questions were bubbling within her...".
Flush on her cheeks? Eyes...riveted on mine?
Come on - gimme a break!
First the good news: Gerber is exactly right. Most new businesses fail because of poor planning, a lack of organization and what I call "entrepreneurial disillusionment" -- in other words, the owner of the business discovers that running a business doing what he or she loves is not what they thought it would be. It's clear Gerber knows what he's talking about. He hits most (if not all) of the salient drawbacks to starting and running a business. It's an easy weekend read and it is an entertaining book.
Now the bad news: The way Gerber goes about conveying his message might turn people off to the book. He is overly verbose, some of his examples don't make sense and he takes too long to come to the point. In one passage, Gerber wrote for five pages describing "opportunity cost," (and never mentions that term) when a sentence or a paragraph would have sufficed. Seasoned businesspeople and grisled entrepreneurs will find this book repetitive, pedestrian and more than a little frustrating as they wait for Gerber to make his point. I think Gerber's editor failed him on this book.
Having written that, I plan to put this book on the suggested reading list for my Entrepreneurial Marketing classes. I think it might save more than a few new entrepreneurs from making big, hairy, expensive mistakes.
I laughed out loud at one point when the author described a young man who traveled Europe, fell in and out of love several times, got stoned, divorced, re-married, got stoned, fought, went broke, got stoned, and then voila!...discovered he had a talent for writing and a mystical ability of telling people how to run a small business. Yeah, you guessed it, that young man was the author. Pure corn. There has to be better stuff out there than this.