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


The E-Myth Revisited

Why Most Small Businesses Don't Work and What to Do About It


Michael E. Gerber


Harper Collins (1986)




Chris Hills


December 2004



at the price (lass than 11GBP ) you can not afford to miss this book

The E-Myth is the Entrepreneur Myth. It has nothing to do with the Internet, Email or Dot.Com. This book was recommend to me by a successful business owner. He told me that his only regret was not reading it 10 years earlier! I read it and I must say it fires you up with an [organised] enthusiasm. I showed it to a friend and he is now using this book as a start up guide for a business he is planning.

This is not a Get-Rich-Quick book, nor does it seek to sell you anything else. However, there is a web site with additional resources and courses the author runs but these are US based and not needed to use the book.

This will be a difficult review to do as explaining the content gives all the secrets away! The model used for this book is a pie shop run by one person (no, not the well known breakfast/fast food illustration) but it will work for any business. Indeed there are illustrations from other industries including the hotel business. Which is interesting as I recently read the Marriot (hotel) story.... It was in the draw next to the Gideon and Mormon Bibles in the Marriot in Heidelberg! I can see traces of the ideas in this book in the Marriot system.

The story in the E-Myth how the owner of a failing, one person, independent pie shop looks at their business, under the guidance of the author. They analyse the problems and look at the way to get it back on it's feet is in the style of the stories by Plato where the questions set up the next explanation. It is almost readable as a story. At each meeting the pie shop owner has with the narrator more things are explained and suggestions on what to do next is suggested. However this book will work for a business that you have not yet started as well as one that has been running a decade.

I found the book fascinating as it covered various things I have seen in small companies before. It explained the underlying reasons. It explains why most small companies run into the problems they do after the initial wave of enthusiasm. Why many small companies fall over or do not progress after an initial growth of personnel.

Recognising the symptoms is half the problem the other half is what to do about it. There are several novel solutions which, when you look at them are plain common sense. A couple of the ideas and illustrations come from the authors own company with mistakes they made. So the author has been there and done it himself. Interestingly there is no patented system to buy, no franchise method, just sensible ideas. Though in the US the author does do lectures and business consultancy on the subject. Much like the Team-Start /Mustard and Small business advisory groups in the UK

This is a business book, therefore it is orthogonal to all businesses from IBM to MacDonald's to small SW house to a one-man contractor be it in IT, carpentry or the fishing industry.

The important thing to note is this book is simply ideas and methods. It is not a silver bullet. You have to have a viable business; goods or services to sell that are in need. Be prepared to work hard, the money to start and the discipline to do the paperwork. What this book does is give you the map to the obstacles, and the navigation skills; itdoes not give you the transport to reach the goal. You have to provide that yourself.

As will be clear from my comments I recommend this book highly. I would use it myself were I to start a business. Further to that I recommend that any one with a small business, including "one-man" outfits to look at it even if you have been running a decade. It could do you a lot of good. I would say at the price (lass than 11GBP ) you can not afford to miss this book. However non- business owners, be careful! It could enthuse you to start one yourself. Highly recommened.

Book cover image courtesy of Open Library.

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