Illustration: Oscar Bolton Green

The Book That Taught Me I Was Doing Entrepreneurship Wrong

Michael Gerber’s ‘The E-Myth’ helped me understand why I was struggling as an entrepreneur

Mike Michalowicz (Author of Profit First)
Published in
3 min readFeb 21, 2020


This is part of the Marker series “Read Like a Boss,” where founders, CEOs, and leaders in business reflect on books that revolutionized their thinking, framed their career, or aided them in a crucial business decision.

WWhen people ask what book has inspired me the most in my entrepreneurial journey, the first to come to mind is The E-Myth, by Michael Gerber (or The E-Myth Revisited, as the 2004 revised and updated edition is known).

There are thousands of popular business books out there, many of them aimed at entrepreneurs, so what’s so special about E-Myth?

For starters, E-Myth debunks the idea of the entrepreneur as a lone, heroic figure who is an expert in a specific field and builds a business on the basis of that expertise. Gerber says that if you’re an entrepreneur who sees yourself this way, you’re making a fatal mistake: assuming that “if you understand the technical work of a business, you understand a business that does that technical work.” So, the musician thinks they are qualified to run a music store; the hairdresser thinks they know how to run a successful hair salon.

Instead, Gerber argues, entrepreneurs should work on the business, not in the business.

When I started my first business in the ’90s, Olmec Systems, which set up regional businesses with computer networks, I made this mistake. I was good at selling, so I assumed I could turn my salesmanship into a business. I hoped to build a business by simply selling as much as I could, making more money, and growing my company. Instead, I wound up burning out and putting myself deeply in debt trying to keep the business afloat. Reading The E-Myth helped me realize that in order to not only grow but also maintain my business, I needed to create systems to establish the solid foundation every business requires to survive. At its core, that was the fundamental difference between a technician and an entrepreneur.

Gerber says that, as entrepreneurs, we all have the opportunity to turn our business into one the size of McDonald’s. If you can create systems that are…