The Real E-Myth

owner of a small business store showing her tasty cakes

You might have heard of a book called The E-Myth by Michael Gerber which describes and dispels the myths about how small businesses really succeed. It’s pretty much required reading for anyone starting or running their own business. The E in E-Myth stands for what it means to be an “Entrepreneur.”

But there’s an even bigger entrepreneurial myth I want to completely destroy for you today, and it might just change your life. Or at least give you some breathing room.

You see, the world has shifted in the past 10 years. You know it, you feel it. It’s hard to ignore. The world has become more connected, more global, more technological. The workplace has gotten older and younger at the same time as the Boomers have become full-force at the same time the kids they have spawned are entering the workforce.

Industrialism is gone. Even the information age is slipping away. The new age seems to be the Age of the Entrepreneur. If you are connected to the internet in any form or fashion, or watch five minutes of television, or pass a newsstand, the message is loud and clear:

BECOME AN ENTREPRENEUR AND YOU WILL FINALLY BE HAPPY.

Variations of this theme are:

Follow your bliss.
Make your dream a reality.
Quit the 9 to 5.
Be your own boss.

Personally, I think Apple started it all in 1997 with their legendary Here’s To The Crazy Ones commercial (which I still love with all my heart in spite of what I’m about to say).

“Look how much fun it is to work for yourself!” they say.

“You will experience freedom like you’ve never felt before!” they say.

“Become an entrepreneur and you will be happy (or at least happier than you are now)!” they say.

This has become the most marketed message on the planet over the past decade. We see those happy entrepreneurs in American Express commercials or we read the hundreds of success stories in Inc. Magazine, or your mom tells you how the girl next door (you know, the one you could have married) is now running her own multi-million dollar cupcake conglomerate.

And all of the sudden your life sucks by comparison. After all, you work for somebody else. You’re not an entrepreneur. You can’t possibly be happy.

THIS IS THE BIGGEST LOAD OF CRAP YOU’VE EVER BEEN FED.

For three reasons:

1. You can be happy anywhere. Happiness is not a circumstance, it is a state of mind. I guess I should say almost anywhere. There are poorly run companies and micromanaging bosses and those should absolutely be avoided. However, the majority of organizations that I interact with are decent, hardworking companies with good values and a noble mission. Make no mistake, all companies have problems, even those happy ones on the Amex commercials. If you ran your own company, you would have problems, too. Lots and lots of them, I promise.

2. You’re more in control than you think you are. One of the benefits of a more entrepreneurial society is that it has also become a more “INtreprepreneurial” society as well. Most companies reward (and most bosses love) people who believe in the company and create new ways to add value through their work — those who “own” their role, step up to more responsibility, and do whatever they can to make their team, boss, and company more successful. When you look at it this way, intrepreneurism is a lot like entrepreneurism without having to mortgage your house.

3. Very few people should be entrepreneurs. There, I said it. I’m not saying you couldn’t do it, I’m just saying maybe you shouldn’t.

Listen to me very closely. Stop everything else you’re doing right now and focus on this next sentence:

Not everyone is cut out to be an entrepreneur…and that’s OK.

Stop comparing yourself to the rest of the world. Millions and millions of people would be so much happier if they knew it was OK to NOT be an entrepreneur, that it’s perfectly fine and admirable to enjoy having a job and working for someone else…and absolutely killing it.

This might sound like weird advice coming from a serial entrepreneur, but here’s what I’ve observed: I’m wired to be an entrepreneur, most people I know are not. This is neither good nor bad. It’s just different, AND BOTH ARE OK. Are you starting to get my point? Is it sinking in yet?

If you have a dream to open a hardware store or launch a line of fashionable maternity jeans or create a life-saving medical device, by all means give it a shot. The world always needs new ideas and a fresh dose of passion.

But, so does the company you work for right now. And you might just create happiness for yourself by becoming a rockstar right where you are.

 

Agree? Disagree? Frustrate you or set you free? Leave a reply and let me know!

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