This concoction, half marketing pamphlet, half Accounting for Dummies, is another sorry addition to Michael Gerber's so-called "vertical" E-Myth series that offers watered-down replicas of what Gerber thinks is the root cause of small business failures: that business owners act as domain specialists ("technicians") rather than dream the dream of true "entrepreneurs." Sounds catchy, but is all wrong. While it's clearly not enough to be a great cook to run a successful restaurant, the bigger problems have always been: (1) lack of sufficient money, and (2) lack of thorough planning. Many surveys have shown this for years. And by the way, some of the greatest companies were founded by "technicians": HP, Microsoft, Apple, Google - even the company man Gerber seems to like, junk-food king Ray Kroc of McDonald's, began by making, as a ground meat technician, his fatty burgers. After making those, just like after building i-Phones, you need of course more: marketing, selling, distribution, service, financial control, lawyers - you name it. And to orchestrate this motley of responsibilities you need, above all, a business plan and money to implement it.
According to Gerber, all you need is sing the ditty "work on your company, not in your company", and all will be well. Ah yes: AND you must hire him or attend his outrageously expensive seminars (ludicrous "dreaming rooms"), or at least: Buy His Books! And soon you'll be successful and rich. But beware: As Christopher Buckley once observed: "The only way to get rich from a self-help book is to write one."
As for the tone, structure & content, and pretensions of this book, it follows by and large the recipe of earlier Gerber works:
TONE: Gerber knows everything, and you are hopeless, if you don't agree. He's the master, he has consulted with 60,000 businesses, he's been "successful." (He has long ago abandoned his struggling company E-Myth Worldwide.) In the tradition of the naïve baker Sue and similar hapless characters in his earlier books), he introduces the fake couple of Steve and Peggy, and leads them through the same shallow waters he has waded through in his earlier books, often using the same words, almost identical sentences from his recent book, replacing "attorney" with "accountant".
STRUCTURE & CONTENT: A sequence of short, thin chapters mostly filled with clichés - again, exactly like his earlier vertical pamphlets: About money, people, clients, growth, time, all very generic and yet blustery. Often in bullet points, as lists, with lots of white space to fill 170 meager pages. It must be said that the sections written by co-author M. Darren Root contain a bit more meat, but it's also not very high-grade - lots of fatty tissue and generalities, like "Our clients enable us to grow and move forward. They are our greatest assets. The client-accountant relationship is special - one built on an immense level of trust. Clients depend on us to be their trusted advisor, providing so much more than delivery of financial statements or tax returns. Clients look to their accountant for sage business advice to ensure business and personal success ..." and on and on. Similar words about trust and sage advice and special relationship and greatest assets can be said about physicians and car mechanics. This book is just generic business babble with a little accountant-coloring.
PRETENSIONS: This book, like all of Gerber's products, assume that you are not far removed from being a moron, and that He is the Moses coming down the mountain with the Tablet of Truth. Never mind that most of his "truth" is reheated E-Myth rehash or spiritual nonsense. In order to give the book a veneer of respectability, the weirdest and the wildest quotes are again sprinkled in, from George Washington to Henry Ford and Oliver Wendell Holmes. One of my favorites is supposed to illuminate the chapter on "Estimating:" Gerber's choice of spiritual guidance is here: "The way a Chihuahua goes about eating a dead elephant is to take a bite and be very present with that bite. In spiritual growth, the definite act is to take one step and let tomorrow's step take care of itself."
For fuller disclosure I will add that I mentor small business owners myself, teach QuickBooks as well as half-day courses on business planning (for SCORE and for free). In this capacity as a coach and mentor I have followed the miserable decline of Gerber's books, from the acceptable "E-Myth Revisited" to the later books, which are, like this one here, not much more than shameless self-promotions. All hat, no cattle, and certainly no meat.