A Candid Review of “The E-Myth Revisited”: The Good, The Bad, and The Annoying

A candid review of Miachel E. Gerber's The E-myth Revisited

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I don’t know anything about business. Seriously, I’m a total newb. I still haven’t created my LLC or opened a business checking account (SHHHH! Don’t tell!!!) because I feel completely overwhelmed by all that bizniz speak.

Maybe I shouldn’t admit that out loud, but I promised I would be upfront on this blog. And maybe, just maybe, you’re wondering how to set up your business, too. I figure it might be helpful if I lay out all my dumb questions right here for the world to see, and that way you can learn from my success…and failures.

In all honesty, I thought I would have more time to research and organize my thoughts when it came to business structure, but in the six weeks since I started doing this “for real,” I’ve already managed to find a few paying clients and I might even have my first anchor client on the horizon (HUZZAH!)

So I decided to hitch up my panties and start getting serious about the business side of things.

Twelve Business Books in 2022

To start, I made a goal of reading at least 12 business books in 2022 to help me approach my health writing business more professionally. I did not choose these books with any particular finesse.

I found a blog post with the “best” business books (there were 85 on the list, only eight of which were written by women…sigh). I jotted down the names of about thirty of those that sounded good, and here we are.

I picked “The E-Myth Revisited” based on the title alone, thinking it would be about digital and remote work.

Turns out, this book is not about digital work. Whoops. But hey, this is why you’re reading my blog, right? So I can do the legwork first and save you time in the long run.

“The E-Myth Revisited” – What’s it All About?

The E-Myth Revisited, by Michael E. Gerber isn’t about e-mail or electronic business or anything else online. The “E” stands for “entrepreneur,” and the basic premise of the book is that the majority of small business owners aren’t proper entrepreneurs.

Instead, most small business owners are really what Gerber calls “technicians” or experts in a particular skill, After gaining mastery in their craft, the technician one day experiences an “entrepreneurial seizure” and are overcome with the desire to work for themselves, instead of at the beck-and-call of a manager or boss.

Gerber argues that this seizure always passes, and what’s left is a great craftsman…and a failing business. Instead, Gerber says that for a business to succeed, there must be a proper balance of the technician, the entrepreneur, and the manager.

Gerber tells the story through an imagined business coaching session with “Sarah,” the beleaguered owner of her own pie shop. Sarah is drowning in work, the spark has gone out, and she has no idea what to do. Gerber to the rescue.

The Technician, the Entreprenurer, and the Manager

In Gerber’s view, the technician is the widget-maker. They get the product produced, the skill performed, the pies baked.

The manager is the one who organizes, sorts, plans, and codifies. They make sure the company logo is printed on all the letterhead, that all the invoices are paid, and that all the file folders are color-coded.

The entrepreneur is the one who sees the opportunities and room for scale. They are the source of energy and vision within any small business.

For a business to succeed, these three personalities must be balanced.

Infancy, Adolescence, Maturity

Gerber then breaks down small businesses into those in their infancy, adolescence, and maturity.


In his eyes, infant businesses are all technician — flip the burgers, install the HVAC, teach the dance lessons. There isn’t much strategy or organization to it all. The technician runs the show.

According to Gerber, a business in its infancy is all about the owner — the owner and the business are one and the same. The business literally could not run without the owner working there on the ground level, doing all the tactical work in addition to customer service, billing and invoicing, marketing, strategy, the whole shebang. She is irreplaceable.

The hallmark of a business in this stage is often an owner who is working themselves to death: 10, 12, 16-hour days just to keep things afloat. It might work for a little while, but it’s not sustainable.

Gerber argues that many small businesses fail at this stage. The owners realize that this Boss Business isn’t what they’d hoped and they close up shop. The others move into adolescence.


In this phase, the small business owner realizes they need help. They hire someone to do the books, to make the widgets, or run their marketing. The small business owner now becomes the manager, but business growth is limited by how many people he can successfully manage.

Gerber claims that businesses in this stage will often fail because the owner too often abdicates tasks to her employees rather than delegating them. Since the business is so tied up in who the owner is and their particular cult of personality, no employee will ever be able to replace the owner’s technical work.

And since the owner has ceded all control over the tasks she hired the employee to do — often the tasks she doesn’t understand or doesn’t enjoy — these tasks may not be done to the same level of quality as before.

This results in the owner moving in one of three directions: firing their employees and reducing in scale (aka, moving back into infancy), stagnating in adolescence (until the owner collapses from the pressure of trying to do everything), or going all in, committing to a chaotic, uncontrolled spiral of resources and finances until it all implodes. (At least, that’s what Gerber claims.)

Alternatively, the business could mature.


A mature business is one where the owner’s physical involvement is ultimately optional. The business has been designed so thoughtfully, the processes involved so detailed, the vision so clearly defined that anyone with minimal competence can fill the various roles.

The business owner no longer needs to flip the burgers or sew the quilts; she doesn’t even need to directly manage the employees anymore. Instead, she can focus on strategy, growth, and expansion.

The Franchise Model

What Gerber is teeing up is the franchise model. In other words, Gerber wants small business owners to build companies with standardized, reproducible operating procedures. This mindset is the key to success, in his view.

It doesn’t matter if the owner doesn’t want to have multiple iterations of their business. Instead, what matters is that the business is so thoughtfully designed that the owner eventually becomes replaceable as technician and manager. Instead of working 16 hours a day producing the product, billing and invoicing, responding to customers, and marketing, the owner is able to hire those tasks out.

But the owner doesn’t just hand the business over. Instead, she trains her employees to share her vision — whatever that might be — and creates clear, obvious measures of success within each role.

Gerber uses McDonald’s as the perfect example of a company that provides a reliable, predictable product in all of its locations. He delves into a few more business examples to show how this model can still tailor the experience for the customer, but the general principle is the same: build a business where you, as CEO, are not essential on a day-to-day basis.

Then, you can be as involved (or not) as you like. Or, as he suggests, you can build the business to the point where you can comfortably sell it off to someone else.

Is “The E-Myth Revisited” Applicable to the Freelance Writing Business?

While some of the concepts are better geared to brick-and-mortar businesses, I do think the underlying principles are useful.

After reading the book, I did sit down and draft a number of SOPs for my own business, per Gerber’s urging. These included guest post format, client onboarding procedures, and pricing guides.

These SOPs were immediately empowering. Instead of blindly applying for every job on ProBlogger, I started evaluating whether potential clients were a good fit for me.

I shared the guest blog guidelines with members of my freelancing writing mastermind and then tweaked the procedures based on their feedback. This has made it so easy to solicit guest blog posts from other writers. Plus, it has reduced my own mental load when it comes time to edit and publish the posts. I just follow my own procedures!

I also think there’s merit in Gerber’s suggestion to create a personnel chart, outlining all the roles and tasks involved in the work, even if you are currently the one and only employee. This can help illustrate the areas where you may one day need to hire help, and it allows you to pinpoint how you want these roles to be filled and executed.

Adopting a CEO Mindset

I also think The E-Myth Revisited can encourage freelance writers to expand the scope of their vision. Like Gerber suggested, I sat down to think about where I want my freelance writing business to be in 5, 10, and 15 years.

I realized that I don’t necessarily want to be the one writing all the health content in 15 years (aka, a permanent “technician”). But I’d sure be interested in managing a team of nurse writers, coaching new nurse writers, and sharing my hard-won expertise through books, courses, and public speaking. And when I’m ready, I’ll have a writing agency that I can sell. That money can either seed a new venture or support me in early retirement.

Now I have a business vision.

To achieve this goal, I know I have to have measurable markers of growth along the way. I’m able to make decisions now to evaluate whether potential options will help me reach my ultimate goal of running my own agency.

For freelancers who are interested in writing as a side hustle, I do think the principles still apply. If you hope to grow, you may one day need to hire editors, a virtual assistant, or a marketing expert. To do so successfully, you should have some idea of your profit goals, lifestyle vision, and ideal workday.

A candid review of Michael E. Gerber's The E-myth Revisited

Is “The E-Myth Revisited” Worth Your Time?

I’d say yes, but that’s a long, qualified yes — not an eager one.

A lot of the book felt like a 268-page sales pitch to join one of Gerber’s courses. And a fair bit of the writing was just fluffy, new-age, dream board stuff. His imagined conversation with Sarah-the-Pie-Lady became grating very quickly, as he used this medium to allow “Sarah” to give Gerber effusive praise for his wisdom. I appreciate that Gerber was trying to inspire as much as instruct, but I think he could have accomplished this in half the words; at a certain point, it just felt patronizing.

Gerber calls himself the “Founder and Chief Dreamer” of his company, which gives you a good measure of the voice and style of the book. His own personal rags-to-riches story, instead of inspiring confidence, made me pause and wonder if this was the sort of person I wanted to take business advice from.

But at the end of the day, I did find several valuable pieces of advice that I was able to put to use immediately, and for that, I’m glad I read the book. And I think that most small business owners, whatever the niche, will find something useful here, no matter what stage their business is currently in.

The Bottom Line

The E-Myth Revisited, by Michael E. Gerber

The details: 268 pages

Best for: freelancing newbies and frustrated mid-career writers who are feeling burned out

Is it worth it? Yes, as long as you take it with a grain of salt

Alternatives to consider: I’ll let you know when I find them!

What Did You Think of This Review of “The E-Myth Revisited”?

Was this helpful? Would you like to see more reviews of business books and courses that can help freelance writers?

Let me know in the comments below or send me an email at elizabeth {at} emfreelancing {dot} com!

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