How Social Media is Challenging the E-Myth PrincipleBack in 1985, Michael E. Gerber wrote a book called The E-Myth: Why Most Businesses Don’t Work and What to Do About It. The E-Myth (“Entrepreneurial Myth”) discussed in the book is the commonly held belief that most businesses are started by ambitious entrepreneurs.

The truth, according to Gerber, is that most businesses are started by “technicians” — those who know and enjoy the “hands-on” work of the organization. Gerber asserts that when a person starts a new business, being able to do the technical work required personally is actually a liability — having tangible business skills is far more important.

Fast forward over 25 years where we live in a do-it-yourself world with unprecedented access to information, education, global networks, and the E-Myth principle appears out-dated. Spend some time online and you can learn more about business than you might believe is possible, and you don’t have to pay a penny to do it. Today, it’s relatively easy for anyone to start a business, and having “innate” business savvy is no longer a requirement for starting a succesful business.

Is the E-Myth principle dead? Here are three key changes since the original book was published, which make the case that the E-Myth principle is indeed obsolete.

Resources and Education

Resources and Education

Want to learn about something? Anything? Google it. It’s really that simple. You can learn how to start a business, get funding, secure a loan, hire employees, create marketing materials, design a storefront, manage your accounting, and more, online. If you want, you can even get a degree in business from a virtual school. The information is out there and at your fingertips. You just need to spend the time looking for it, reading it, and absorbing it.

Beyond simple web searches, you can find specific websites dedicated to teaching you about business. From strategy to tactics, planning to execution, and even practical case studies and instruction, there are websites where experts share their experience and knowledge with you. Many of these experts write books and teach at the college-level, and they offer their expertise through written content, podcasts, videos, and more online, which you can access at anytime.

The E-Myth Principle focused on teaching skilled people — technicians — how to think strategically and work on their businesses rather than in them. These days, there is no need to distinguish between technicians and entrepreneurs, because anyone can learn to think and act like an entrepreneur with a bit of self-education.

Tools and Implementation


When it comes time to put your entrepreneurial plans into action, the Web gives you direct access to free and affordable tools to make it happen. Whether you need a tool to launch a direct response marketing campaign like MailChimp or Constant Contact, a tool to manage your finances like QuickBooks or Freshbooks, there are resources to help you with just about every aspect of your business.

The web also gives entrepreneurs access to experts and technicians in other fields. It’s easier than ever to find affordable help when you need it. For example, if you don’t have the expertise to create a marketing plan, you can find that help online. You can even hire telecommuters to put your marketing plans into action from the other side of the globe!

Communities and Networking

Communities and Networking

In 1985, networking happened only at in-person events. It was simply a different world. Today, networking happens every minute of every day online. Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, blogs, forums, and other social sites are integral parts of our professional lives. A question about starting a business in 1985 couldn’t be answered instantly. Today, you can publish a question on LinkedIn Answers or Quora and get dozens of answers within minutes.

While Gerber offered a very prescriptive method to grow a business that relied heavily on the popular franchising model of the 1980s, such a view is too contrived and short-sighted in 2012. Today, relying on a franchise model isn’t a guaranteed recipe for success. Today, the businesses that think outside the box, challenge the norm, and understand that the real world is changing faster than ever are the ones that will succeed.

The bottom line? Don’t sell yourself or your business short by viewing entrepreneurship through blinders that are a quarter century old. Instead, take those blinders off and open your eyes and your mind to the resources, education, tools, communities, and networking that entrepreneurs from 25 years ago could not have even imagined.

[Image credits: InfusionSoft, Rafe Blandford, scanna283, Jason Tester]