Stay On Top of Your Business

We often, colloquially, say that we’re “in the business of [insert industry].” But there is a difference between being in the business and being on the business. This concept comes from a book called The E-Myth, by Michael Gerber, which I highly recommended for any business owner.

The principal idea is that when you are running a business, you are often the artisan inside the business.. You are the person who is:

  • Developing an application
  • Building a website
  • Designing a logo
  • Upgrading a kitchen
  • Cooking dinner
  • Managing a team

The list goes on.

But if you’re inside the business, nobody is steering the ship.

What you have to do, then, is climb on top in order to actually run the business. That means that you’re:

  • Setting up processes
  • Making sure people get paid
  • Holding people accountable
  • Enabling and enforcing the right kinds of communications

To use an example: Chef Ramsay is a wildly popular and successful chef. He can cook some of the best dishes in the world, but when he’s in the kitchen at one of his restaurants, he stands at the pass – not the stove. He is quality control and the face. He hires and trains people who can meet or exceed his expectations.

Thus, he stays on top.

If you want to have a successful business, you have to be able to steer the ship. You have to be strategic about what you’re doing.

When you’re small, you still have to work in the business

I do also think it is important to note that a lot of people who have read Gerber’s book think to themselves, “Well, I guess I need to stop working as the craftsman and become a CEO.” But that’s not right either.

When you’re running a small business, you are still a major contributing member of the company. You don’t really do ‘CEO Stuff’ full time or even close to it, until the business hits closer to 10 million per year in real revenue (revenue not including cost of goods sold or contractors).

If you have a five-person agency, then you probably one of the most important team members. So taking you out of the day to day work in the business would be in the very least a terrible idea. So while you want to put your head up above the business and steer the ship, if you’re a small crew someone still needs to be manning those sails… or sales.