The E-Myth Revisited: A Review

We’re huge proponents of working smarter, not harder. We want to build a business with a solid foundation for growth and keep on growing it. We also try to model these beliefs by testing theories and applying them to reach our future goals.

Recently, a book we read confirmed we were heading in the right direction and doing everything right. We’d like to review that book here, because we want to help give other writers and freelancers opportunities to experience a better life too.

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. If you use our links to buy this book, we earn a few cents. If you choose not to click our links, that’s quite fine. We aren’t posting this review to earn money (though it’s always nice). We’re writing it because we feel this book is a good resource with valuable information. Let’s carry on, shall we?

The E-Myth Revisited by Michael E. Gerber was a book that I really didn’t feel like reading in the first place. I’d seen it heavily mentioned elsewhere as being a book every businessperson should have, and I felt it had been put on a pedestal. I had preconceived notions and shunned it.

Eventually, I figured I’d best read what everyone talked about. At best, I’d have my views changed and learn something. At worst, I could trash the book and feel smug that my original opinions were right.

The cover appeal was strong – thank god. That beautiful trustworthy and established IBM blue is a winner. The sub-title? Killer. It read, “Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work and What to Do About It.” Well, hell. We’re a small business (moving to mid-sized, actually) and we certainly want to know what doesn’t work.

Alright, curiosity sparked… and nearly snuffed out. The introduction just about killed me. It was so boring that I set the book down for a week. I didn’t even expect to pick it up again. But unfinished business bugs me, so I determined to give it another shot.

Well, chapters 1 and 2 were just as boring as the first.

Be forewarned: The E-Myth Revisited uses the story of Sarah, a woman in the pie-making business, as an example and case study to follow through the book, and Gerber’s talents as a storyteller are sorely lacking.

Sarah is an unbelievable character, I can’t relate to her in any way, the dialogue sucks, her story bored me to tears and by the time I hit chapter 3, I wished some editor would have stuck a pie fork in the book and ripped all those wasted pages out.

But I decided to skim a little faster whenever Sarah and her pies cropped up (which was damned often.) It was the only way I made it to chapter 3. Thank god, things started to get interesting around that point.

The E-Myth Revisited covers what every freelancer needs to know: the difference between building a job and a business. I learned this a very long time ago and am thankful I did. I have freedom from being a Technician for the rest of my life.

Harry has read the E-Myth Revisited too and it was an eye-opener for him. “That’s what I was – a Technician. You were always the Entrepreneur. Now I’m seeing it doesn’t have to be like that, and boy am I glad. I couldn’t see myself doing the same damned thing over and over for the rest of my life.”

“Did you read chapter 7 yet?” I kept asking a friend this question throughout the week he was reading. My copy of the E-Myth Revisited has every single page dog-eared from chapters 7 to 13. “This is what we do at Men with Pens. It’s what we’ve been doing. That’s my business vision!”

Why was I so excited about chapter 7? Because that’s when the E-Myth Revisited starts telling you the keys to building a business that works for you (not the other way around), one that runs like a well-oiled machine. It shows you a different way of doing business so that you can stop working like a bastard down in the back rooms to keep your income alive.

You see, that’s the goal of the book: to teach you a better business mindset based on functional, practical systems. Not only that, but the E-Myth Revisited explains why you should want this in your life, why you need to get away from being the only person working like a dog and how to create a business that lets you achieve more money, more freedom and more satisfaction.

I’m excited about this book because it’s a tangible tome I can hand to someone and say, “Here. Here’s our business vision. Here’s how we run our business and exactly where we’re taking our business.” If you’re one of the people that looks at what we do and says, “I wish I had that,” then this book is going to rock your world.

We often have people emailing us for help. They feel splattered, scattered, without focus. They recognize that they’re not building a business; they’re just chasing the next bright shiny and hoping for a miracle. It’s not working for them and they know it. They want out. They’re bloody tired and don’t know which way to turn.

The E-Myth Revisited can help.

Oh, and if you’ve read Tim Ferris’s 4-Hour Workweek? Get the E-Myth Revisited. The two books go hand in hand.

Liked this review? Let us know. As we read and work our way through a vast selection of books on marketing, branding, fiction writing, consumer behavior and creativity, we form opinions of what we like and what we don’t. We’d like to hear your opinions too, so tell us what you’d like to read.

Post by James Chartrand

James Chartrand is an expert copywriter and the owner of Men with Pens and Damn Fine Words, the game-changing writing course for business owners. She loves the color blue, her kids, Nike sneakers and ice skating.

Join the Discussion. Click Here to Leave a Comment.

  1. Excellent review, James. Except that now I have to go buy the damn book…

    This is exactly the sort of thing I’ve been working on in my business, as well. I consider myself an emerging entrepreneur. I’ve made the transition (and I detailed this in my post over at Freelance Folder last week) from being a writer to being a freelancer to being an entrepreneur.

    Next step… beach bum millionaire? Who knows.

  2. Hi James – E-Myth is considered the entrepreneur’s Bible for good reason. I laughed ruefully at “working like a bastard in the back room.” You’ve written a great review of a book I revisit often.

    My partner and I started our gift business and the roles devolved in a similar way until finally I said, enough! Tim Ferriss has excellent suggestions along the same line, a bit more radical, but definitely life and attitude changing.

    The funny thing, and I’ve confirmed this with several of our franchisees, is that when you stop working yourself to death, you relax and do your best work. And your business grows. You own your business – you can’t let your business own you.

    Betsys last blog post..WHY MAKE IT ROUGH?

  3. I sure hope it’s available at the library because I’ve been forbidden to add to the book collection sitting in my house.

    I’m guessing that the biggest tidbit from the book is the idea of delegating out the work to experts or get people on board with your business who will handle the stuff that you don’t want/like or have the talent to do.

  4. @ Karen – I believe that the biggest tidbit of the book was how to create heightened efficiency in a business and why you should do so.

    A book collection with no additions is a very sad thing indeed. I feel pain. But when I have to do this to myself, I say instead that the collection is on temporary hold due to lack of space and storage.

    Then I buy yet another bookcase. Of course, this begs the question, “Where the hell am I going to put this?”

  5. Brett Legree says:

    Yeah, I’m with Bob – way to go James, now I’ll have to buy the frickin book… and since I love 4HWW, I’ll take your word for it.

    -Brett

    Brett Legrees last blog post..bubblegum.

  6. Two more books to buy. Grumble…

    😉

    Thanks for the review, I will seriously think about checking it out.

    Mark Dykemans last blog post..Words of wisdom about the challenges of problogging

  7. I already own the first, so I’ll only have to purchase one book. I win! 😉

    James has it spot on with: why you need to get away from being the only person working like a dog and how to create a business that lets you achieve more money, more freedom and more satisfaction.

    Nicole Brunets last blog post..Gary: 2002

  8. @ Karen I have the same problem. Stacks of them everywhere, bookmarks sticking out of at least a dozen. However, this one is tempting….

  9. If your bookshelf has a ban on it, buy the book then give it to a friend! They will never stop thanking you for it!

    When I was doing a lot more business consulting I always gave everyone this book. It’s hard not to be a little cynical about these kinds of books but don’t let your cynicism get in the way of some good solid advice that most of us need at one point or another or at least need to be reminded of.

    BryanGs last blog post..Interview- Holly Grundon, Creative Director bhg

  10. A very successful friend of mine recently sent me this book to read. He said it’s on his must read list for every business owner. For me, the beginning of the book was brutal because I am not a technician. I am much more a manager or an entrepreneur than I am a technician. I yawned, thought a nap was a better use of my time, and put the book down. I will look at it when I get home though, I don’t think I made it to chapter 7. I’ve been meaning to pick it up, but I ended up reading Ready, Fire, Aim by Michael Masterson instead (enjoyed that book, by the way, full of great insights and easy to read).

    Thanks for the post… I am inspired to pick up the book again and try to finish it.

  11. @ Julie – Just skip to Chapter 7 and you’ll be fine.

    And actually, knowing the differences between Technician, Manager and Entrepreneur are worth slogging through. Towards the middle/end, that insight comes in handy.

    I never considered myself a technician – hell no, entrepreneur all the way – but by seeing what Gerber describes, I can look at others and say, “Aaaah, so that’s the problem!”

    (Even though I already knew it. He just put it in easier words.)

  12. Yay! More books to read! Er, I mean… 😀

    Okay James, here’s the ever so important question: which one do I buy first?

    I can barely justify buying one book, nevermind two. I still have the WoD books to buy too! (Gah, must make lots of money solely for the purpose of buying more books… 😛 )

  13. @ Allison – If you’re burnt out tired and ready to toss the towel, buy the 4HWW. If you’re thinking of taking a little venture and building a small enterprise, buy the E-Myth. 🙂

  14. Ah, thank you James. Now I know which to buy first. 🙂

  15. I can’t believe you just did that. You *know* that’s going to kill me with suspense, don’t you. Cruel woman.

  16. 😀 Love you! (Me, cruel? Never!)

  17. Seems to be a suspense-filled day ’round these parts, doesn’t it? Luckily Allison is a semi-permanent fixture in a place where I know I can find her to ask. 😉

    Nicole Brunets last blog post..Gary: 2002

  18. Thanks for the review, James! Like Karen, I plan on trying to check The E-Myth Revisited out of the library after reading this. I’ve heard good things about the book before, but hearing it from you guys gives the good stuff (to my mind) a lot more authenticity.

    My business is so small it consists only of me (well, plus occasionally my boyfriend on some graphics stuff), but I’d like to set up good systems and ways of thinking NOW so that when it’s time to grow, I don’t do it by just doubling the number of hours I put in…

    Ali

    Ali Hale – Alpha Students last blog post..Speaking up in class

  19. @ Ali – That is very, very smart.

  20. Okay fine, I’ll end the suspense. I *was* just going to get E Myth, but then I got an amazon affiliate sales gift certificate (yay!) so now I can buy both! Awesome. 😀

  21. Graham Strong says:

    Hmm, sounds like an opportunity for the Men to write a book of their own — sans pie, of course… lol

    ~Graham

  22. I’ve done the same thing with this book. I read the first chapter or two (Pies and all…), and then just stopped reading it. Any time I thought about picking it up again, the thought of his writing just put me off… 🙁

    I loved the 4HWW though, and I do love the idea behind this book, so I’ll try to give this book another shot (Starting from chapter 3 😀 ) based on your review. 🙂

    Michael Martins last blog post..25 Ways to Spice Up Blog Post Photos

  23. Michael Martine - Remarkablogger says:

    I too have been hearing of this for ages and not read it… yet. At least now I know what chapter to start on. 🙂 I can tell I need this, too, even though I’m going in the right direction, I will reach a point of maximum effectiveness again at some point and will need to break out beyond that.

    Michael Martine – Remarkabloggers last blog post..Linda Has a Talk with the Blog Traffic Genie

  24. Even worse than the pies for me was the NEVERENDING chapter about his personal life as a young person. It’s like when someone tells you their dreams, in precise detail, omitting nothing no matter how irrelevant or boring.

    Think I will check it out of the library again and just read chapter 7. I have a pretty good tolerance for dull, but E-myth defeated me more than once.

  25. I will say that I’m reading the “sequel”, the E-Myth Mastery – and guess what? Sarah and her pies are back, and there are seventy useless pages… which is in fact Part One in its entirety.

    Anyone who bought this, simply skip to Part Two and start there.

    @ The Michael I Just Met – If it was that bad, skip to chapter 7. But come back after you realize the book really is good, and then read chapter 3 to 7.

    @ The Michael I’m Familiar With – You want to read this book. Seriously.

  26. Thanks for the review! I read the E-myth (not Revisited, just the first one) and I got a lot out of it. Any idea how this one is different? It sounds like it’s the same principles with different stories (either Sarah wasn’t in the first one or I skimmed!)

    Taras last blog post..Autumnal To Do

  27. Is it worth digging through some shit to get to a diamond? In this case it was worth it to me, and I didn’t even have a business at the time.

    Despite the droning stories (and the piespiesPIES!) the information is indeed very useful. Yes, it could have been delivered better, but alas, not everyone with good ideas writes as well as these Pen Men. We’ve all been spoiled.

    Nicole Brunets last blog post..Gary: 2002

  28. Hi James – just think in five years time, you’ll have made enough commission to buy a paperback. Amazon affiliate program sucks.

    I like the Emyth – even though it’s a long time since I’ve read it. What i don’t like is the fact that Gerber doesn’t have appeared to have been successful at any business – until he started all the Emyth stuff. He kind of reminds me of the Australian guy who wasn’t successful in business then started a coaching franchise, as well as a few others. They’re always very vague and non-specific about their successful businesses.

    The Emyth has a coaching program. I got on their mailing list once. I think they charge something like £12,000 – which is a years wage for some people round here. It’s done by telephone. When I asked them how many people had expertise in the type of business I ran – they said over 120, which was hilarious as it was a small niche business – I only had a handful of competitors. So I’d have been paying someone to read me pre-written crap over the phone.

    I’m not saying the Emyth isn’t good – it’s just a bit too idealistic. Plus it doesn’t really give practical advice on how to systemise your business. I would much rather learn from someone who’s already done what they teach themselves.

    Cath Lawsons last blog post..Be A Business Success Story, No Matter What Your Age

  29. @ Tara – I couldn’t tell you what was different, but trust me, you couldn’t miss Sara, so they (thankfully) must have left her out of the first edition. Lucky you!

    @ Nicole – I heard those guys are just a bunch of hacks. 😉

    @ Catherine – Actually, it is specifically *because* Michael seemed to have a going-nowhere-life and made it with the E-myth that I think he brings a valuable lesson to the table:

    Never give up.

    I think judging people by their past history and not what they’ve accomplished now is something to be careful with, but that’s just me.

    Also, the E-Myth Revisited does give practical advice on how to systemize – but it’s not in “do this” format, so it does take a bit of work. But the instructions are there and clear, for those who take the time to think on their application.

    The E-Myth Mastery does go further into the system building, though in a wildly more complex and intensive way.

  30. Gerber is painful to read but well worth wading past Sarah and her pies.

    I’ve built a couple of systemized businesses using his methods. The actually work.

    I eventually ended up building a tool for systemizing a business. It’s at http://www.nomore247.com if you’re interested in taking a look.

    Cheers

    Pete

  31. I bought it because of this review.

    Hated it. Hated Sarah and didn’t think much of the author, either.

    Lonhgwinded, full of himself and dead wrong about a lot of things. Who says sole proprietors are doomed to failure? He does.. funny, I’m still here and so are lots of other people I know.

    As to his love affair with franchising (that is, turning your business into a franchise), well, that’s his opinion, but not every business can or even should be a franchise.

    There’s nothing here that hasn’t been done better elsewhere. Unless you love Sarah and her pies, of course.

    Tony Lawrence´s last blog post…Why defrag Windows XP Desktops? by Anthony Lawrence

  32. Mmm… I think if that’s what you took away from the book, that turning your business into a franchise is the whole message, then I think many valid and important points have been completely overlooked.

    Gerber clearly covers a major, major freelancing issue: the difference between creating a job for yourself with your business as a demanding boss and that of building a business that creates the freedom to freelance and love what you do.

    He also covers using systems to get ahead, which does work. So does his concept of shedding self-reliance, another winner. These are business practices we ourselves use and know that it does work.

    Franchise? Shit, Tony. That’s just his concept idea: create a business you *could* replicate with other people so that you *can* experience more freedom to do what you love. It’s a valid idea.

    As for Sarah and her pies… I will never, never forget how horrible that was.

  33. I think Sarah and her pies scarred me for life.

  34. Well, I disagree that the franchise idea is tangential – I see it as his central theme.

    The idea of shedding self reliance is repugnant to me. I LIKE being self reliant and have zero interest in handing any part of the reins to anyone. With that in mind, perhaps you can see why this fails to charm me.

    As to anything else, there’s nothing there that hasn’t been said more succinctly elsewhere – and without Insufferable Sarah.

    I also disagree with him in several other areas.. but look: if it helped you see things you hadn’t seen before, it was a good book for you and could be a good book for others. For me, it just made me snort and mutter with annoyance. Maybe I’ve read more business advice books than you have, maybe I’n just old and jaded, maybe I’m just a weird oddball (odds on the latter are very high in Vegas). Or maybe I just don’t like the cut of his jib, you know what I mean?

    Whatever – if he helped you, that’s wonderful.

    Tony Lawrence´s last blog post…A Big Xmas Present from Google Adsense by Anthony Lawrence

  35. @ Tony – You know, I went to bed last night feeling bad, and I woke up this morning feeling bad.

    I feel bad because you clearly, bluntly said, “I bought this book because of this review and hated it.” The potential implied message people may read from that is that it’s our fault, which could potentially harm our business. I spent a few hours debating whether I should refund your money.

    I won’t, simply because:

    1) your personal preference has no bearing on our personal preference. We thought the book had some great ideas in it, pies and bad writing aside

    2) we didn’t twist your arm to buy the book

    3) you’re a goddamned crankypants anyways (love ya!) and I don’t have the energy to undertake teaching someone how to be less blunt, less finger-pointing, more respectful and less damaging to people’s businesses

    4) we always have and always will accept negative feedback and are able to see other people’s views and respect them

    One thing I’d like to say: If you think there are better books on business out there, you should list them here and share them with people. Refute something, say, “This one is bad!” – but offer something better in exchange, otherwise all you’ve done is refute a statement with no backup to support it.

  36. Oh for crying out loud.

    I’m not complaining about buying it. I’m glad I read it – it helps me tell other people to avoid it.

    If you can’t take disagreement (and obviously you cannot), there’s something very wrong here.

    Tony Lawrence´s last blog post…A Big Xmas Present from Google Adsense by Anthony Lawrence

  37. @ Tony – Actually, I think I just did sit here and take it. Not once did I say, “Are you kidding? This book is great!” I sat down, listened to your thoughts, posted mine and am willing to discuss more.

    What I did bristle at is that one sentence I mentioned. Had you not written that, I would have been 150% fine with your comment.

    Anyways, back to coffee!

  38. I apologize.

    I disagree that my contrary opinions can possibly hurt your business, but if you believe that, well, that’s what you believe, so I apologize and ask that anyone who took my comments as being negative toward MWP as a business should understand that I meant no such thing.

    Tony Lawrence´s last blog post…A Big Xmas Present from Google Adsense by Anthony Lawrence

  39. Let me just add one more thing in case someone does feel ill-disposed toward MWP over this:

    I have great respect for these guys. I think James Chartrand particularly has done truly wonderful work here with some extremely thought provoking posts.

    As noted above, I was careless with my words. I am GLAD to have bought the book even though I personally disliked it. That’s because I review such things at my website too – if James hadn’t mentioned it, I wouldn’t have read it and wouldn’t have been able to warn my readers away from it.

    Anyway – I’m very upset that I have caused unpleasant feelings. That doesn’t change my opinions, of course: Sarah and Michael Gerber are not my cup of tea!

    MWP is my cup of tea.

    Damn: now I want tea, and my wife has moved the teabags somewhere..

    Tony Lawrence´s last blog post…A Big Xmas Present from Google Adsense by Anthony Lawrence

  40. @ Tony – No, I didn’t say contrary opinions hurts my business. I welcome them. We have an open policy about that sort of thing, and it’s good to hear someone say, “This is crap!” Rock on.

    It’s the “It’s your fault I spent money on this book!” that doesn’t sit well. No matter. That’s my perspective of your sentence and probably not at all what you meant. We all view the world through our lenses, right?

    As for tea… Chocolate chai, please. No milk, lotsa sugar.

  41. I can understand how you might interpret it that way.

    I can’t understand chocolate tea or putting sugar in tea or coffee.

    Tony Lawrence´s last blog post…Why defrag Windows XP Desktops? by Anthony Lawrence

  42. Oh man. You are missing a treat. Sludgejoe in the morning with two heaping tablespoons of snowy white sugar? Bliss. Chocolate chai with the same? Heaven.

    Shiraz? Perfection.

  43. Not healthy..

    I don’t add sugar or salt to anything.. prepared foods have way too much added already.

    I got used to drinking coffee black years and years ago.. same with tea.. don’t like it any other way now.

    See? Oddball weirdo.

    Tony Lawrence´s last blog post…A Big Xmas Present from Google Adsense by Anthony Lawrence

  44. I saw this review and i want to read this book. Are there any differences between the first version and this one?

  45. @ Catalin – Not sure at all. I picked this one and assumed that RE-visited meant “better than the first time we visited…”

  46. Thank you for your reply. Maybe it’s like “re-visited” movies. It’s the same thing done in a different way and with new visual effects, but the story is the same 🙂

  47. The most well-written, comprehensive, clear business book I’ve read so far. Gerber both manages to make this book really entertaining (I listened to the audio version) and super informative and eye-opening. I think different business books resonate with different people; this one really resonated with me. Most other books about this subject that I’ve read all say pretty much the same thing, and fail to give many concrete steps to take.

Trackbacks

  1. […] is a mental stroke. This is what the author Michael E. Gerber of the E Myth Revisited calls an Entrepreneurial […]

  2. […] You must have a solid understanding of what you want out of a situation. You must listen to that little voice inside your head and make the best choice. The book, E-myth Revisited, discusses the importance of aim. If you know what you are trying to achieve then you’ll exponentially increase your odds of success. Read the Mens With Pens review of the E-myth Revisited. […]

  3. […] We’ve all heard how we can’t just be the technician in our business because we get caught up in the day-to-day and the tedious aspects.  We get stuck ‘Getting it all done’.  We work IN the business instead of ON the business. (You HAVE heard this right?  From Michael Gerber of ‘The E-Myth’.  If not – go read a summary here: “The E-Myth Revisited: A Review” by the great ‘Men with Pens’ […]

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