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To anyone considering starting a business I would recommend reading a book called "The E-Myth Revisited" by Michael Gerber. It's 20 years old, but it discusses one point in particular which I think is particularly relevant for HN's audience. Many people who go into business fail because they operate the business with the mindset of a "technician" -- someone who is very good at a particular skill, and enjoys and prioritizes performing that skill.

The abilities of a technician can be very valuable to a business, but especially as it begins to scale the owner/operator(s) need to adopt different mindsets in order to succeed. In short, if you don't like the idea of spending most of your time on business or marketing stuff, you should find someone who can handle those, or perhaps be a solo consultant/contractor. (I think this is a large part of why YC encourages cofounders so much.)

Exceptions certainly exist--there was a time when tech was a magical world and you could do magic things just by being an expert engineer--but increasingly I feel they are getting rarer.






I don't think the book applies at all to the hacker news crowd. "The E-Myth Revisited" basically advocates turning every business into McDonald's.

That's fine if someone wants to start some kind of tech consulting business; but that's not the kind of business that I see promoted on Hacker News.

The "The E-Myth Revisited" describes how to plan a business where labor is low-cost and unskilled. With software, (and hardware, to a degree,) when you write a program, the program is done. Most of your labor goes into R&D that is not repeatable according to what "The E-Myth Revisited" advocates.

At least with hardware, the low-cost unskilled labor can go into manufacturing, but that is now mostly outsourced.

At most, "The E-Myth Revisited" can be applied to the sales and support part of running a tech business, which is what Oracle does very well.


> With software... when you write a program, the program is done. Most of your labor goes into R&D...

Not by a long shot! The vast majority of the lifetime cost of software is in the maintenance (daily operations, upgrades, new features, bug fixes, integrations, rewrites, etc).


If you think of skill as being the ability to operate the business, growth does in fact require you to hire people who are less "skilled" -- specifically technicians who are specialized in one area of the business' operations (preferably even better at it than you are), and who can handle that part of the business for you. Gerber goes into this with his description of how to support business growth by building out a hypothetical org chart even when you're the sole person in the business, and gradually replace your name next to most of the job titles with someone else's.

This is pretty much how you'd build out an engineering team of 50 or 500 people, too.

And within any kind of org - sales, engineering, support, whatever - eventually you're going to get large enough that you can be more efficient by sequestering simple work into simpler roles, which gets done by cheaper, junior people.

All 100% applicable to the audience here which is filled with people who are trying to found and grow companies.

Your comment implied that perhaps you think sales and support are low-skill roles, which makes me wonder if you have any experience working in those areas or managing people which perform those functions? I can assure you they take a very high level of a different kind of skill, and you would grow those teams more or less in the same way you grow an engineering team: starting with yourself, defining specific functions and duties, sequestering simpler work into lower skill roles for efficiency, and hiring people to fill those roles one by one. Exactly like Gerber describes.


the book has some good ideas in it, but 80% of it is filler / repetition / cross-sells to some of the author's related services. it's a bit crass.

save time and read an online summary of the book to cover the ideas quickly.


You don't need to read a book page-by-page, good readers recognize filler and repetition. I personally don't like reading summaries, they lack an element of "convincing" that immersing yourself into a real book does have.

That's pretty much every single "business book." You're better off reading history.

I agree. I started out as a techie, and I now run my own business.

The engineers half-serious mock me for continually talking about money, billing, etc. But they do know that's how their salaries get paid.


Another amazing book that greatly compliments Gerber's book is Sam carpenters work the system. These are two really life changing books IMO

E-Myth is one of the few books I wish I had found years before I did.

There aren't many challenges we're the first to face in the history of the world, or the first to ever think about.

A lot of wasted time can can be saved from accessing the experience of others, and learning what to extract for your own journey.




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