Michael Gerber is a man who understands what it means to be an entrepreneur and how to walk the walk having done so for around 40 years. I have been inspired by Michael for many years after he hired me to be his personal photographer when he was on a speaking engagement to Vancouver over the course of 3 days in Vancouver many years ago. He gave me a tape of the E-Myth and that set me on my current course of Working On the Business Not in It.

Having said that it is not an easy feat to suddenly stop working doing the job you may like and having others do it for you. Giving up control to gain control is a strange statement but very true. If you give up being the technician to manage the business you will have taken the biggest step towards being an entrepreneur with absolute control.

Imagine you are a plumber with 25 years in at your employer. Friday before Labour Day you get a layoff notice, so much for Labour Day. But hey you are a certified, qualified expert plumber what do you have to worry about? After two weeks on the couch your wife asks you when you will be getting your ass off the couch and find a job. Hey its’ only been two weeks! You look for a job for a month, getting more and more discouraged as you are told you’re over qualified or worse no one tells you that yes you are too old. Aghgh. Now what?

You go out get some business cards printed up and decide to hang out your own shingle announcing your new plumbing business. Only cost you a business card to setup your business, amazing. So after 25 years of climbing under houses, fixing toilets, installing bathtubs and cleaning drains you’re back at doing it for yourself. How great you think, if I want I can go golfing anytime I want, if only you golfed, or go to that great lake you know of to fish. The reality is that business is not that plentiful and to make a good income you have to work day and night – and weekends, so much for the big dream. You now know what working IN your business means.

Ok now let’s look at it from a different perspective using me for an example. Same plumber scenario with 25 years in the trenches, no pun intended and that big layoff.

I’d take a couple of weeks to relax around the house like the first guy and after I’d gotten bored watching Regis and Kelly every day I’d evaluate my options. The only similarities between me and the first plumber is that we were laid off and started a company. Of course, I’d start a plumbing business but instead of printing business cards with Gary Bizzo – Plumber it would say Gary Bizzo – CEO.

I’d go down to the little pub where I know my former colleagues at ACE Plumbing hung out after work and make my list of a few guys who I’d like to work for me. Yes, you heard it, work for me. I’d pick some young talented guys I liked and respected and make them an offer to work for me at a little better salary; after all I have no overhead like the big company.

These young guys with renewed inspiration, which I would help instill in them, would go work gung ho for me. They are finally getting what they are worth and working for a great guy, lol.

I’m not working alongside them I’m managing them from the outset after all I’m tired of crawling under houses and fixing toilets. I’m in phase 2 of the triumvirate Technician, Manager and Entrepreneur. My goal is to get to the Entrepreneur stage where I oversee everything and focus on planning.

I keep my eye on the three young guys I hired looking for enthusiasm and talent over and above the rest. After a few months I make my choice and promote the guy to Manager to replace me. Phew, did I really give control of my company to a young guy not yet 30 years old? Sure did!

That means I am the Entrepreneur as there’s nowhere to go from here. I can delegate to my heart’s content but my main goal is to allow him to run the day to day operations of the business while I think of the big picture. Heck, I may even open a franchise or another business unrelated to plumbing as long as he is capable.

So would you rather work On or In your business?

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  1. Great Post. I notice it was posted on Dec. 7th…. Pearl Harbor Day. No Better time to start a New Adventure. Keep up the great work.

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