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Idea Box: How to Solve the Entrepreneurial Conundrum
The EMyth Explored: Have you become your pallet business? And is that way of thinking standing in the way of future success?

By Staff
Date Posted: 9/1/2017

In the EMyth by Michael E. Gerber, first published in 1995, the author talks about the “Entrepreneur Myth.” He explains that a majority of business owners are “technicians” or people who are good at something who happen to start their own businesses. They may start businesses because they had no choice or were unhappy with an employer, but they were not born entrepreneurs with a natural talent for building a business.

Another key point Gerber makes is that these business owners often end up “working in” their business, not “on their business.” The business owner operates essentially as an employee at their own company and, because of this mindset, ends up working too many hours, not making enough money, or both. This in turn leads to a relatively low quality of life for the business owner.

Often the business owner is the business, the business can’t run without them, they can’t sell the business, and there’s little or no potential for an exit strategy. For some, this may be fine; for others, it may feel like a trap.

Looking at your own business and day-to-day work life, ask yourself whether you’ve ended up in a similar position with your pallet business. If you have, then you have three choices:

1. Continue to be an overworked and possibly low-paid employee at your own business.

2. Close your business and look for work that would provide better pay and a better quality of life.

3. Take action and stop working in your business and start working on it.

Many business owners, of course, have an emotional attachment to their businesses and are convinced they don’t want to work for anyone else. They choose to engage in the honest self-assessment and work involved to move their businesses to the next level. If this applies to you, then consider hiring a business coach or consultant with the knowledge and skills to guide you through the process of remaking your business so that it can operate without you. Then one day it can be sold, and you can do something else or retire.

If the idea of a business coach or consultant is not appealing or you’re inclined to fix the problem yourself, start by educating yourself on how to transform your business so it can operate without you.

You can start by reading the EMyth, or a similar book. Since the EMyth was first published, similar books have been written. Another classic book to consider is Awaken the Giant by Anthony Robbins. Though written over 20 years ago, it is good foundational reading for anyone looking to make changes in their personal and work life to achieve greater mastery and happiness. It can help you understand the power of choices and how to re-engineer your decision-making processes.

Also consider trying a peer group for business owners and CEOs, sometimes called mastermind groups. Some are paid and some are free, but the basic idea is that business leaders collaborate with each other to solve problems in their businesses and learn from each other. Costs can vary widely and some groups require a firm time commitment each month.

Whether you hire a coach or use some other approach, what is likely to be involved with taking your business to the next level? It will start with an honest assessment of the business to see exactly how the various aspects of it function now. You will then undertake the process of systematically making changes. This will involve you shedding subordinate roles that prevent you from doing the really strategic work like marketing or sales. Your pallet business will be something you are building with an end in mind and not something you have become.

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