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How do you create a business that beats the odds? I’ll tell you.


3 min read

It was about a year ago today that I was asked by Ilene Gail Frahm, our Board Chair, to become the next CEO of EMyth. The last year has been filled with an immense amount of learning and growth. My appreciation for every single person on our team in Ashland, Oregon has never been greater: they are all incredibly devoted to clearing the path for our network of coaches to do the important work of improving the lives and businesses of business owners around the world. Perhaps you’ve seen or heard from them in emails or on the phone, in videos or webinars, but if you haven’t… please know there isn’t a more dedicated team anywhere in the world. They are: Britt’nee Anderson, Michael Anderson, Jed Bickford, Justine Bowen-Jones, Sam Gerber, LC Graf, Molly Hamilton, Ali Hough, Nick Lawler, Slade Machamer, Josh Merritt, Lenny Miller, Ashley Nunes, Eben Ostergaard, Sierra Satow, Jon Shaffer, Adam Traub, Cass Wick, and Shey Yearsley.

It would be safe to say that there’s nothing I’ve accomplished in the last year that they haven’t helped make possible. And just as integral in what EMyth does is the incredible network of EMyth Certified Coaches who we’re proud to call partners. Every single day they work tirelessly to improve their skills and bring the best of themselves to their clients. These coaches impress and inspire me on a daily basis. They leverage their curiosity and experience to make real change possible for business owners who are stuck. Their work is my biggest source of motivation.

When I reflect on my own professional history, I realize it’s led me to a lot of the same resignations that I hear in the voices of the business owners who reach out to EMyth every day:

Business is business.
Grind it out and you’ll find success.
You just can’t find good help these days.
Nobody will ever care about this business as much as I do.
If you want it done right, do it yourself.

What’s becoming clear now is that from the moment I first connected to EMyth, one by one those “given realities” of business were being dismantled. I was having more real and honest conversations at work than I ever did in the corporate sector. I witnessed people trusting structure and process, resulting in even more creativity than I was ever able to create by giving employees “free reign.” We had good help. So good in fact, that I could finally stop trying to do everything myself. In other words, in many large and small ways I found myself working in a business that proved the very strength of our approach to improving businesses.

What’s the secret formula? How has this company lived on for nearly four decades when 80% of businesses fail in the first five years? It boils down to a few key ideas:

  1. A business should exist to provide its owner with more life—not less. I knew the pain of this one personally from my own experience being a business owner. What I thought was going to be a source of great freedom was the single biggest drain on my energy, my attention, my life. But again, it doesn’t have to be that way.

  2. You’ve got to start seeing your business as a thing outside yourself. Yes, it’s something that you’ve made. But it isn’t you. You have to feel bigger than that business. And only once you’ve made that shift in perspective can you start to do the work you need to do to make it better.

  3. The real job of an owner is to work “on their business,” not “in it.” This isn’t a new idea for any EMyth fan, but the fact that it’s still repeated decades after it was first put to paper is a testament to how poignant this concept is. Every business owner knows the difference between the two, and the struggle that exists in freeing up space to do the work you really need to do.

  4. Helping great people leverage well-designed systems to produce extraordinary results=pure magic. Hiring the right people is only half the battle. Setting them loose to operate without a structure and process to lean on might result in some success. But not the kind of repeatable, scalable, sustainable success that most business owners are after.

  5. Continuous business development is not optional. Your business will always need work. Even after you’ve done the work to create all the structure you need, and have all the right people, then you’ve got to put the processes in place that ensure you keep making everything better. Call it innovation. Call it continuous process improvement. Call it whatever you want, but there isn’t a wildly successful company around today that is just satisfied that they’ve got things to a point that just “works.”

As we continue to put this formula to use at EMyth, it’s going to result in a lot of exciting work in the year to come. And I’m proud that we’ve got the people and the structure in place to make those great things possible. We’re going to touch the lives of so many business owners. And the lives of the employees who work for them. And of the customers their businesses serve. And at the heart of all of it lies one simple truth: We really believe in our product. It’s behind the success of tens of thousands of businesses around today—and ours.

Martin Kamenski

Written by Martin Kamenski

Martin is a CPA and former business owner whose passion for small business began with childhood memories of Al’s Carpet Cleaning—his grandfather’s business. Martin writes about leadership, strategy, finance, and entrepreneurship.