In this book, Michael E. Gerber argues that there are 3 people inside each of us: the entrepreneur, the manager and the technician. They all have different aspirations. The entrepreneur is the free thinker, the one that comes up with ideas and solutions, while the manager is the one taking care of organising chaos. The technician meanwhile is concerned about how to do things and how to do it well.
To be successful, it is important for all personalities to be in sync.
The entrepreneur does the work of envisioning the business without her
Many technicians wake up one day having enough of their boss and decide to go on alone and launch their business. It is hard for them to step away from doing the work and focus on the business instead.
In its infancy, a business and the owner are the same thing, without the owner there is no business. Eventually, good work pays, word spreads, the amount of work increases and you keep putting on more hours. But eventually as the demand keeps growing, balls will start to drop. This is when the entrepreneur needs to kick in and identify the problems.
To keep the balls in motion, the entrepreneur needs to identify the problems and fix them systematically. If the entrepreneur hates doing the books or does not know how, then she should hire someone to do it. Suddenly, you have more time to do the things that matter.
But be careful to keep an eye on everything or balls will start dropping again.
The author then goes on to explain how IBM and McDonalds built their businesses. There is little doubt that McDonalds is one of the most successful businesses ever created. What they built at McDonalds is not so much the burgers, but the methodical system that can be replicated again and again. They know exactly how long a burger or its fries can stay outside before becoming soggy.
They know exactly how to price it and what the ROI of the new business franchise will be. It removes a lot of uncertainty from creating a business and they teach franchisees exactly what to do to run it successfully. With over 28000 restaurants all over the world, you know exactly what to expect as you walk in.
For the small business struggling to keep the balls juggling in the air, he prescribes documenting every process so that ordinary people can run it, as if you were going to franchise your business.
Quantify everything, for if you haven’t quantified it, you don’t own it and if you don’t own it you can’t depend on it. Does saying “have you been here before?” Instead of “can i help you?” Helps you talk to more customers and get more sales? Does wearing a blue suit help you get more sales? If so do it repeatedly. From now on, this is how you will dress and how you will open the conversation.
My conclusion is that this is overall a good book, but not geared towards startup, who operate in a very different reality. This book focuses on small business owners, and while there are things to be learned in this book for startup founders, I think there are some much better suited books out there for startups.