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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Danger In The Entrepreneurial Zone, June 2 2000
This review is from: The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don't Work and What to Do About It (Paperback)
This book deserves 7 stars for pointing out the fallacies of how most entrepreneurs operate. The book deserves 1 star for proposing a standard that most people cannot hope to meet and then pushing to sell you consulting services. Pay attention to the former, and go light on the latter.
Gerber is correct that most entrepreneurs are limited by a comfort zone of wanting to remain in control as either strong technicians or managers, which limits the potential of the business. As soon as they exceed what they can handle, the business either fails in a break-out attempt or shrinks back to a simpler state. The new businesses that succeed the most are the ones that have a business model that is easy to replicate with ordinary people.
Where Gerber goes wrong is in suggesting that many people can develop such business models. I regularly study the top 100 CEOs in the country for stock-price growth, and few of them think they can develop a new business model. Why should someone starting up a new company be likely to do better than that? They won't. In fact, I have a friend who attempted to start a new business following Gerber's principles and almost failed before he adjusted to normal operating approaches. He spent so much time developing his business model, that he never got around to operating it.
Gerber's three favorite examples are McDonald's, Disney, and Fed Ex. Notice that two of the three got most of their ideas from someone else for the business model (Ray Kroc from the McDonald brothers in San Bernardino, California and Fred Smith from an Indian air freight operation).
I think there is another fallacy here: You can get ordinary people to do simple things (deliver packages, cook and deliver cheap hamburgers, and smile at people on automated rides). But in many businesses the demands of the market are extraordinary such as in many technological product businesses and services. Microsoft has a business model, but it is not one that Gerber would recognize.
Finally, he condemns people who want to operate their business as a job by being technically expert. Where would we be if people never did that? What if Peter Drucker spent all of his time developing business systems to make pizzas and tacos rather than writing business books about management? What if great musicians developed business models for teaching children to play the violin and piano rather than performing? In other words, there is room and a need for extraordinarily able one-person companies run by technicians.
Skip the pitch for the consulting services at the end. You'll like the book better if you do.
But don't let my quibbles keep you as an entrepreneur from failing to appreciate the excellent case Gerber makes for having a business model as soon as possible, and working systematically to improve it. If you can do that, you may well develop a true irresistible growth enterprise.
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Donald Mitchell
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