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Putting The E-Myth To Work In Your Organizing Business

Have you ever wondered if you are really cut out to be a business owner? Do you sometimes feel overwhelmed by the many hats you have to wear — the tremendous number and variety of responsibilities you face each day? Did you ever think to yourself, “There has to be a better way to run a business than this!”

There is A Better Way

Books like “The E-Myth: Why Most Businesses Don’t Work And What To Do About It”, The E-Myth Revisited,” “E-Myth Mastery,” and a whole host of specialized “E-Myth” books (for contractors, physicians, managers, etc.) — have become classics amongst entrepreneurs, because author Michael Gerber has hit upon a universal frustration amongst small business owners. Mr. Gerber calls this problem working “in” your business instead of “on” it. Most entrepreneurs end up buried in the day-to-dat administration of their businesses, losing sight of the real reason that they went to work for themselves in the first place. This happens not because these people are bad business owners — but because they looked at their business as a way to work without answering to a boss. As Mr. Gerber emphasizes over and over again, most business owners make the fatal assumption that if they understand the technical work of a business, they understand the business that does the technical work. Just because you know how to be a carpenter or professional organizer, or accountant doesn’t mean that you know how to run a carpentry or organizing or accounting business.

So what do you do to correct this situation? Mr. Gerber leads his readers through the three life-stages of a business — infancy, adolescence, and adulthood — pointing out the possibilities and pitfalls during each phase. He also illustrates the steps that must be taken to successfully create a mature business — defined as one that can function without you doing all of the work:

Infancy

The first stage in the life of a small business is infancy. This is point at which your company is you — you do all of the work yourself, you absorb all of the risk, you receive all of the profit — and when your customers think of your business, they only think of you. This is terrific, for a while — no boss, you get to make all of the decisions, life is good.

But, as Mr. Gerber points out, your company will eventually grow beyond your personal capabilities. You suddenly find that it takes all of your energy just to maintain. You can’t seem to get everything done in the amount of time you have available. You can’t take a vacation, because your business will shut down if you aren’t around to oversee it. You are starting to feel overwhelmed. You have one of two choices at this point — you can give up your business and go back to working for someone else, or you can enter adolescence.

Adolescence

Adolescence is the point where you decide you need some help. You might hire someone to come in and take care of your books or handle your administrative duties or do a little selling. And that’s great for a while, too. Suddenly you can delegate all those nasty little chores that you hate dealing with to someone else. And you trust your employees, so you don’t worry too much about checking on their work.

But then you begin getting complaints from customers and vendors. You realize that the people you hired aren’t doing things the right way. Well why would they — you can’t clearly articulate what the “right way” is, even to yourself. All you know is that this isn’t working anymore. Mr. Gerber suggests that you have three options — you can micromanage your employees (which is a waste of your time — you might as well just do it all yourself), you can reduce your scope and go back to being an infant company, or you can grow up.

Adulthood

If you decide to move your company into adulthood, the first thing you must do is to create an organizational chart. This doesn’t mean that you have to hire a bunch of employees — you can still do every job yourself if you wish. But an org. chart will give you a clearer understanding of the responsibilities involved in making your company to run smoothly. Mr. Gerber then suggests that you create systems for each activity in your company. You should have a written standard procedure for everything — making sales calls, going on client appointments, balancing your books, writing letters. Document everything that you do as a series of concrete steps to be completed in a certain way and in a particular order. Develop scripts and form letters and checklists. Allow no room for improvisation.

The premise behind all of this structure is not to box you in — it’s to create more freedom. Once you have standardized your business procedures, you can replicate yourself over and over again. You can bring in just about anyone to help you — administrative staff, accountants, sales people — without worrying whether or not they are doing things the “right way.” There is only one way and it is well-documented and you reward your staff for following procedures. And even if you choose not to bring in a large staff, you become more efficient and less-burdened because you now have a system in place — no more “making it up as you go along.” Your time, energy, and attention are freed up, allowing you to focus on developing your business rather than maintaining it.

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    Ramona Creel is an award-winning 15-year veteran organizer and member of the National Association Of Professional Organizers. As well as having birthed “The A-To-Z Of Getting Organized,” Ramona is also the author of “The Professional Organizer’s Bible: A Slightly Irreverent And Completely Unorthodox Guide For Turning Clutter Into A Career”—and the creator of more than 200 “quick-start” business tools and templates for use by productivity professionals. She writes seven different blogs, has worked with hundreds of clients, and has delivered scores of presentations on getting organized. Ramona resides on the roads of America as a full-time RVer—living and working in a 29-foot Airstream. Learn more at and RamonaCreel.com.

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