Ted's Tidbits

The E-Myth Enterprise

I went to Half Price Books the other day looking for a copy of The E-Myth Revisited, a book that’s been on my “to read” list for a long time. I arrived at the store, headed for the business books, found the Entrepreneurship bookshelf and started skimming. Sure enough, they had it! And then it caught my eye. Sitting on the shelf next to the book that warranted the excursion was another similarly titled book by the same author:

The E-Myth Enterprise: How to Turn a Great Idea into a Thriving Business.

How do you like that? Here I am, at the bookstore, with an idea that I’d like to turn into a thriving business. It must be destiny. So I purchased it and we left the store before Megan had a chance to grab her usual armful of books. (Just because they’re half price doesn’t mean we should buy twice as much!)

Over the past week, I devoured the contents of the book. I didn’t just read it; I underlined it and made margin notes. Then I turned those into notes on a separate notepad. Then I typed the notes. Then I reformatted my notes into a blog post. Yes, the very post you are reading right now.

Epiphany #1: A Business Must Be Designed, Invented

It’s right there in the introduction, as if it’s something I should have already known. And once I realized it, that fact does seem pretty obvious.

When you design a company, you design it visually, emotionally, functionally, and financially.

Epiphany #2: Business is Hard

Again, this should come as no surprise. Everybody knows that most businesses fail. I’ve even witnessed a few do so, and they failed for very different reasons. In fact there are many ways a business can fail, and very few ways a business can succeed. To help out would-be entrepreneurs like myself, he gives some great encouragement with statements like

...how do you provide an answer to a question that you know has no answer? ...that's the game called business.

and

...a free market system provides all of us with significantly more opportunity to fail than to succeed.

Yeah, he just barely comes short of directly telling me I will fail. Ok, well how about something constructive?

Epiphany #3: It’s About More than Customers

Sure customers are important, but if you build your business on the principle that the customer is always right, you’re going to upset a lot of people that you don’t want to upset. Those people are your employees, your vendors, and your financial backers. A business must be designed with customers and these other three groups in mind. If a business is serving all four groups, it has a chance at success.

There is so much in this book including the five essential skills of an E-Myth Entrepreneur (concentration, discrimination, organization, innovation, communication) and the four categories of preference that an E-Myth Enterprise must be aware of (visual, emotional, functional, financial). There’s a lot to be said about all of these, and maybe some will be the subject of future posts, but I don’t want to end up reprinting the whole book here. If you want to know more, go buy it. It’s a quick read, but it’s packed full of goodies.

In the meantime, I’ve got a lot of design work ahead of me.

Time for Bed

I can’t stay up too late tonight, I need to wake up by 7:00, so I can be at work by 8:00.  That probably doesn’t seem like a very significant statement.  Most of the world will have to be at work by 8:00, but starting a year and a few weeks ago I transitioned to the startup life.

For me this meant a workday that started around 10 and usually went until 11 or so at night.  Of course a lot has changed in a year.  Where there were originally two, there are now four.  More people requires better organization and a little process.  Without it, coordination becomes difficult.  Where previously working odd hours around the clock was good for productivity, it is now a hindrance to the team building.  Especially when all the members are either married or seriously involved.

Megan has of course been on board with me on this venture from the very beginning.  I would could not have done this without her support.  It isn’t fair to her for me to sleep when she is at work, and then for me to work when she is at home.  While that sort of schedule can work for the short term, it increasingly becomes a problem as time passes.

Tomorrow begins a new era for our company.  It is day one of having standard office hours.  They are longer hours than most companies; but hey, we are a four person internet startup company.  It is a shame in some respects.  Sleeping in was one of the greatest perks of being self employed, but if this company is going to grow up into something great, then I will have to grow up as well.

Well, that’s all I have time for now.  I’m off to bed.  I have to get up early tomorrow.