Small Business Owner vs. Entrepreneur

Why can’t small business stay small?Anyone familiar with Michael Gerber’s work, the E-Myth, will know all too well his “war” on small business, and on the idea that business must be a constantly growing enterprise with sights on world-class status.

He explains that in order to reach this, the business must have both a phenomenal product that fills a true and demanded need for the customer, as well as a systematized organization to ensure that the reason clients came once will continue to bring them back again, and again.

It is for this reason that the “unmotivated” small business owner may find condescension towards the E-Myth. Why can’t we just stay small? Why must we grow relentlessly and “practice” to be better, stronger and more?

To answer this question, I believe we must first differentiate between the Small Business Owner and the Entrepreneur. For the two are not merely different in what they do but also in how they think.

The Small Business Owner has a company with less than 50 employees. He often focuses on a select niche in the industry, and has a list of loyal and returning clients. He has no reason to grow and usually prides himself in being able to cater personally to his customers. He thinks “small business”.

The Entrepreneur on the other hand, has not a business but a vision. A way of uniquely changing the world and those in it in a way no one has ever done before. He sees the business as integral to achieving his goal of fulfilling a need for as many people that possibly request it. Yes he may sell out early to some big corporation or delegate his job and go work on a cure for cancer, but he thinks “better world for everybody”.

This is why I believe Gerber has an issue with small businesses. Mr. Entrepreneur’s middle name is “innovation”. They constantly strive to see new opportunities to achieve their company’s vision and will exploit every option available to them. They will grow out of their own comfort zone, and demand that their managers, employees and associates do the same, all with the attention of making the customer happy.

Over time Gerber believes, there will be a “war” over opportunity, whether in marketing, pricing, talent, customer service or the like. And the winner, he believes, will always be the enterprising entrepreneur and his world-class optimized, systematized, organized and performance-driven visionary company.


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