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An owner’s perspective on the assumptions that keep us stuck

EMyth Approach

7 min read

As 2021 winds down, I’m sure you’re reflecting on how your business has done this year and what you want to achieve in 2022. I’m reflecting quite a bit. I’ve spent the last 2+ months working with EMyth’s leadership team on our annual ritual to build our strategic plan for next year. The process always reminds me how important it is to sincerely examine and question the assumptions I hold about my business, our people, external influences and myself. For better or worse, every business is a reflection of its owner. And the sacred cows that are lurking inside you and in your company will inevitably limit your results if left unchecked.

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So, in my last blog of the year, I’d like to leave you with a few highlights of the EMyth Approach, our perspective on how to build a business that really works. From ideas on leadership to customer experience and brand, these eight principles can provide clues to expanding your thinking beyond your current beliefs, attitudes and assumptions so that the new year brings more of what you're looking for in your business and in your life.

1. How you think about your business is how you end up doing business

Three distinct personalities live inside every business owner, and each one thinks differently about their business. 

  • The Technician lives in the present, and is focused on doing the work of making it, selling it and delivering it
  • The Manager is focused on achieving results through people and systems. They think about the past when analyzing data and systematizing operations; the present when working with their team; and the future when strategizing to achieve the company’s vision. 
  • The Entrepreneur is the dreamer who focuses on the future, striving to close the gap between where the business is today and the ultimate company vision.

Most of what business owners struggle with can be traced to the predominance of their Technician personality at the expense of the other two. But by cultivating the systems view of your inner Manager and setting your inner Entrepreneur free to dream, it’s possible to achieve the results you really want from your business.

2. The way real entrepreneurs think about their business

If you’re a Technician at heart, it’s likely that your business expects a great deal from you that you weren’t prepared for. Trying to stay on top of it all can be pretty overwhelming—you might feel like you’re spending a lot of time working without getting anywhere. Changing this starts with a shift to an entrepreneurial perspective. 

  • To the Entrepreneur, the business is the product. To the Technician, the product is the commodity that’s sold.
  • To the Entrepreneur, the business is a vision to drive towards. To the Technician, the business is a place to go to work every day. 
  • To the Entrepreneur, the business operates without them. To the Technician, the business operates because of them.

A business that depends on you—one that can’t function apart from you—ultimately won’t give you what you need from it.

3. Your business is your product

In order to work less, earn more and eventually sell your company at a premium price, your business has to produce predictable results without you. It should deliver your ideal customer experience—consistently—whether you’re there or not. Think about it like this: What if your business were the prototype for 5,000 more just like it? How would you have to approach it then, when it couldn’t possibly depend on you to personally produce results? You’d have to figure out, systematically, how every aspect of the business would look and how every process would work. You’d have to determine every function your people would perform and the results they’d be held accountable for. 

So, that’s the idea, the primary goal: Work on your business while you’re working in it to build a business that operates consistently, profitably and self-sufficiently. Over time, you’ll begin to replace yourself with people who can effectively make it, sell it and deliver it—with the support of your own proprietary systems. Eventually, the business you have right now, imperfections and all, will lead you on the path to the life you really want.

4. Your business can—and should—serve your life

Your business is more than a place to work—it’s a place to realize your dreams. If your business isn’t serving your life, then it’s most likely consuming it. A business that’s serving your life creates more life. It’s a world you want to live in, a place that energizes rather than drains you, where you can be all of yourself rather than a smaller, “work version” of yourself. It’s a world that reflects your vision, your values and how you want your people to align with them. When you put your intention behind creating this, you’ll discover a business you love leading and a life you love living.

5. Time is another word for life

Developing your inner Manager and Entrepreneur skills will free up your time to build a business that truly serves your life. If your business is too dependent on you to produce results and you’re too tied to doing Technician’s work, this will be a challenging shift. It’s going to take rigor, discipline and the willingness to discover what you’re truly capable of. It’s going to require self-management and a new relationship to your most precious resource: time. If you want to run your business rather than it running you, begin by changing how you spend your time.

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6. Make sure your business is an opportunity worth pursuing

To create a business that serves your life, you have to meet the needs of your customers as well as your personal financial goals. Bringing these two objectives together requires a deep understanding of your target market, and a well-reasoned and validated business model. An opportunity worth pursuing confirms that your financial goals can be met by your business, because it fulfills the needs of your target market in a way that clearly differentiates it from your competitors.

7. Focus on your customer

Pause for a moment and picture your customers: Who are they? Entrepreneurs have a need to know everything they can about their customers: who they are, where they are, what they need, and how they feel. Entrepreneurs are driven to find a way to eliminate a frustration or satisfy a desire for enough customers to make the investment in their business worthwhile. Great customer service differentiates extraordinary businesses from ordinary ones. An exceptional customer experience has to be consistent. It’s a blend of inspired people and intelligent systems, rather than something that requires your personal involvement. 

8. Define your brand

Your picture of a business that works is a description of the ideal experience your business will create—for your customers, your prospects, your vendors, your investors and your team—as well as the results it will produce. That’s the true definition of your brand: It’s your proprietary way of doing business, and it determines how your business will look, act, feel and perform. The businesses that design a unique way we do it here with a particular customer in mind are the ones that people are most drawn to, delighted with and inspired by. They create long-term customers who love doing business with you.

What are some of the assumptions—the beliefs you hold dear—that you could question now to make 2022 your best year ever?

Ilene Frahm

Written by Ilene Frahm

Ilene joined EMyth in 1982 and partnered with Michael Gerber in building the company during their 17-year marriage. Over that time, she collaborated with Michael on The E-Myth Revisited as his editor and publishing agent, as well as on a number of his other books. Ilene worked ON EMyth not just IN it, making it possible for her to retire as EMyth’s President in 1999 while continuing to serve as the company’s board chair, a position she still holds. In 2020, Ilene returned to company operations as its CEO to support a new executive team, and everyone in the company at every level, in their leadership. Since her return, Ilene has created an original, customer-centered approach to sales and coaching, Uncommonly Genuine™ Engagement, which is designed to help small business owners open to their blindspots so they can grow in their leadership. She lives in Gig Harbor, Washington with her husband, Gerrit.