Think that anyone who starts his or her own business is an entrepreneur? Think again.
It’s no surprise that people who want to start their own businesses do so for very different reasons.
Some begin with a truly transformational idea, something that will make people’s lives better in a way that no other company is providing.
Sadly, most small businesses do not, in fact, begin like this.
Over the past thirty years I’ve worked with tens of thousands of small business owners and would-be entrepreneurs, with large companies and small ones, all over the world. Early on, my aim was to try to discover why people start companies, why so few succeed, and what those that defy the odds and do succeed have in common.
What I discovered changed my life and the lives of many thousands of people, from business owners and their families struggling to get their companies off the ground, to the employees who go to work in those companies day in and day out hoping for the chaos to end.
Looking back it seems so simple. But the truth I uncovered was revolutionary at the time, and still holds true today:
The vast majority of people who start a business are not the entrepreneurs we all believe them to be, but are, in fact, technicians suffering from an entrepreneurial seizure!
For those of you who have read any of my books, you’ll know that I call this “the E-Myth,” or the entrepreneurial myth.
So what is a technician?
A technician is a plumber, a hair stylist, an engineer, a pastry chef, a consultant–anyone who does work based on some sort of technical skill–the vast majority of people in the workforce.
And what is an entrepreneurial seizure?
It’s when a person thinks, “I could do a better job running a business than my boss does.”
It’s when a person feels stuck in a dead-end job and thinks the only way to move ahead is to start his or her own business.
It’s when a person is laid off or fired and either has little hope of getting an equivalent or better position or doesn’t want to go through the same cycle again with a new employer.
It’s when a person excels in a particular area of expertise and thinks, therefore, that he or she could run a successful business that does that work.
Technicians suffering from an entrepreneurial seizure believe that, because they understand how to do the work of the business they intend to start, they are automatically gifted with an understanding about how to build and grow a businessthat does that work.
This, my friends, is what I call “The Fatal Assumption.”
Fatal, because most small businesses that start that way, fail that way.
Instead of reveling in the sought after dream of being one’s own boss, these technicians suffering from an entrepreneurial seizure find themselves working for a lunatic–and the lunatic, of course, is themselves!
Because being an outstanding plumber, or hair stylist, or engineer, or whatever kind of technical work you can think of, does not in and of itself translate into operating and growing a successful business that does that work.
By believing that running a business is all about the work, most small businesses don’t work; the people who start, run, and attempt to succeed in them do work hard, but usually fail.
And they fail because they are doing the wrong work. I call this work “doing it, doing it, doing it.” The work of being the business, rather than building the business. Working IN the business, rather than working ON it, which is what they should be doing.
For those of you who are thinking of starting your own business, please take The Fatal Assumption to heart.
Be sure you understand the difference between being a technician and being an entrepreneur.
Be sure you’re not relying on your technical ability alone to carry you through.
And be sure to work ON your business by building the systems that will give customers the experience they deserve, every single time they interact with your company.
Here’s to your startup success!