February 2014 Web Extra: Why is it so difficult to ‘work on the business?’

February 24, 2014 -  By

Here’s one more question and answer from the exclusive Landscape Management interview with Michael Gerber, author of legendary small business book The E-Myth. For the rest of the interview, read “Beyond The E-Myth from the February issue of LM. The E-Myth Revisited

LM: I believe you coined one of the phrases that I’ve heard landscape professionals quote very often—“work on the business, not in the business.” Even when people know this concept, why is it so difficult for them to execute?

MG: Because they’re so busy doing it, doing it, doing it. How do you stop? All of their habits are so entrenched. You have to get your mind and your body in sync.

In The E-Myth Revisited I talk about the fat guy and the skinny guy. The skinny guy wakes up one day and says ‘We have to go out and start running.’ He wants to get well. He starts to rule the day. He takes the fat guy out to run, to work out, to the table to eat different types of food. One day it rains and the fat guy says, ‘Run, are you kidding me? Let’s eat.’ And that’s what happens to landscape contractors. That’s what happens to everybody. There’s a war between those personalities. Unless there’s someone to mediate between those two, the fat guy always wins. It’s just a reality. Our bad habits always control us if we can’t remember the dream, the vision, the purpose and the mission. It all becomes an abstraction and the only thing I can remember is I’m hungry and I want a cheeseburger. You need someone to mediate between those two personalities until the skinny guy takes over.

It’s the human being-ness of the problem. Nobody ever taught us how to do it right.

There’s a discipline that’s required, there’s a willingness that’s required and, more importantly, there’s a way. Stop doing what you’re doing, start doing what you’re not. Go to work on your business, not in your business and start doing it today.

I’m 77 years old. I’ve been doing this for 40 years, and have truly transformed the state of small business worldwide. Anybody who’s still sucking wind out there doing it, doing it, doing it should be shot. And you can tell him I said that. Because he doesn’t have to be stupid. He could be smart. Everybody has the potential to choose stupid or smart. By choosing smart, I’m saying choose what works. What works is what I’ve communicated right here (in The E-Myth concepts). It works every single time. When somebody has the willingness to learn and the determination to see it through, it’s fail safe.

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Marisa Palmieri

About the Author:

Marisa Palmieri is an experienced Green Industry editor who's won numerous awards for her coverage of the landscape and golf course markets from the Turf & Ornamental Communicators Association (TOCA), the Press Club of Cleveland and the American Society of Business Publication Editors (ASBPE). In 2007, ASBPE named her a Young Leader. She graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Journalism, cum laude, from Ohio University’s Scripps School of Journalism.

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