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Work on your business, not in your business.


Major game-changer.  This is one of the key takeaways from Michael Gerber’s insightful book, The E-Myth Revisited.  If I could only recommend one book to someone starting their own business, it would be that one.

In Business:

The idea behind the quote is that most people start their business because they like doing the technical work involved.  But that’s no guarantee of success, and is often a recipe for disaster.

Physically building cabinets and growing a successful cabinet-making business require two completely different skill-sets.  When you enjoy the technical work, it’s too easy to lose yourself in the role of technician — “doing it, doing it, doing it” — and completely neglect the roles of manager or creator, which are crucial in guiding your business to profit and long-term sustainability.

Mr. Gerber even goes so far as to suggest the average plumber’s assistant who’s thinking about striking out on his own would likely have more success opening a dog-grooming business.  Since he has no knowledge of dog-grooming, he would be forced to work on the business, developing efficient systems and marketing campaigns, instead of loosing himself in the business by grooming dogs all day.

In Life:

Systems and routines lead to personal success, as well.  Just like interest in a savings account, it’s the compound effect of small, daily habits and tiny steps toward your life goals that grow exponentially over time to culminate in high achievement and major advancements.

Another way to step back from living and look objectively at the course of your life is to have “to be” goals. 

In his book, Psycho-Cybernetics, Dr. Maxwell Maltz said that most people have plenty of “to do” goals (I want to visit Paris) and “to get” goals (I want to own a yacht), but they rarely have “to be” goals.

If you’d like to own a yacht someday, ask yourself, “What kind of person is able to buy a yacht?  What kind of habits and work ethic do they have?  What do I need to do to become that type of person?”

This exercise will help you work on your life, instead of just living in your life.

So remember…

Work on your business, not in your business.

– Michael Gerber

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