I have now finished the book and continued with my entrepreneur self help guide binge with The E-Myth Revisited by Michael E. Gerber. The book has a tag line of: Why most small businesses don’t work and what to do about it.
So what have I learnt from these micro-celebrities from the small business self help genre? Is there anything here that can improve my design and marketing business in these trying times?
Both books concentrate quite heavily on removing yourself from your business. The logic behind this is that if you can get others to do your work you are free to do something else or take on more work and therefore expand the business. I have tried to get other people to do what I do with mixed results.
Automation and the 4-Hour Workweek
Tim Ferriss promotes the use of virtual assistants from the third world to do administrative or clerical tasks. And even marketing, website development, technical services or buying your wife an anniversary gift. To be honest the prospect of this strikes fear into my heart. And I don’t think my wife would be too happy either!
I have heard horror stories of the language barrier causing tasks to take 2, 3, 4, 5 times longer than they would normally with Indian web development companies. I’ve made connections with many of these companies but I’ve yet to take the plunge.
And is it really as easy for a designer or a marketer to instruct a virtual assistant on how to deal with their clients as a lot of the work is based on relationships and built on inspiration?
Practice makes perfect. So I shall try to outsource more and more this year.
The E-Myth and small business development
Michael E Gerber, on the other hand, paints a great picture of why this automation is so necessary. He describes the personality of a small business owner as being split three ways – into the Entrepreneur, the Technician and the Manager. This was so familiar to me it was kind of scary.
- The Entrepreneur is the visionary in us. The dreamer. He thinks up the idea that got us here in the first place and his imagination needs to be nurtured in order to come up with more fantastic opportunities to move us along.
- The Manager is, of course, the pragmatist who is there to plan, to order and to predict.
- And last but not least there’s the Technician. The Technician is how we all started out. The Doer. The “if-you-want-something-doing-properly-you-have-to-do-it-yourself” guy. He’s the one with his head down doing the work. At least that’s what he thinks.
All businesses need a mixture of these three personalities. But in reality we are more like Technicians trying to get on with it whilst being bugged by another “great new idea” from the Entrepreneur and compartmentalized by the Manager who’s trying to establish order.
With these three inside my head all the time it’s a wonder I get any sleep!
But this is the reason, according to Michael E. Gerber, most business fail – because the Technician’s in charge. So automation and outsourcing is vitally important to your business as it frees up the dreamer in you to work on your business rather than in it.
So where do we go from here?
Well, my business has changed beyond all recognition from a few years ago when I started out. Back then I promoted myself as a freelance print designer whereas demand from this site pushed me to offer complete design and web marketing packages.
If I cut down on the time spent on the individual jobs by outsourcing and automation I can view my business more as a product and start tweaking it to make it better and better.
Maybe these books are teaching me to spend less time reading tweets and blog posts about the minutiae of the design business (as rewarding as they are) and more time on the larger picture and the future.
I shall be returning to these points later.
So what about you?
Have you read either of these small business Bibles? Have they or any of the issues discussed here caused you to act differently in your business? Let me know in the comments section of this post. And don’t forget to tweet or link to this post if you enjoyed it.