Wheatmark’s Sam Henrie wrote in a previous post about The E-Myth Revisited by Michael E. Gerber, one of the most important business books I’ve read, which helped me look at business in a completely different way.

Working on the business is quite different than working in the business. Just because you love cooking and everybody says you should open a restaurant doesn’t mean it’s a good idea. Being a great chef at your own restaurant might still mean doing a terrible job running the business and hating it. Michael E. Gerber talks about how business owners ought to view themselves not as technicians (chefs, dance instructors, editors, widget makers) but as marketers and savvy businesspeople. He exhorts entrepreneurs to become experts at making the business of their trade work better instead of getting caught in the daily whirlwind of working in the business. The e-myth is simply the “entrepreneurial myth”: the key to running a successful restaurant is not in the craft itself (great cooking) but in your understanding of the business and its marketing. If you love to cook and you’re great at it, should you cook? Absolutely. That is how you bring value to many people around you, especially if you work as a chef at a restaurant. Should you open your own restaurant, however? Only if you understand the above “e-myth.” That doesn’t stop you from at least cooking for someone else’s restaurant, however.

If you love reading, books, and authors and you’re great at editing, should you start a publishing company? Only if you understand the e-myth. If you don’t, you should work for someone else’s publishing company.

How about being a writer? If you’re great at writing and you love it, if you’re an excellent storyteller, should you write? Absolutely! You should entertain people around you with your stories. You should write articles and get them published in various publications, including your own blog.

Should you publish a book?

Publishing a book is a lot easier than opening a restaurant,  so the question might be more properly phrased as, “Should you expect to succeed as an author based on your love of writing?”

The key to being a successful author is not just in the craft itself (writing) but in your understanding of the business of being an author and its marketing. Every successful self-published author is both a good marketer and a good businessperson. A successful New York-published author, on the other hand, is like a great chef that works for someone else’s restaurant. The business owner—the publisher—understands business and its marketing, while the author creates value for both the publisher and the marketplace. But if you are a self-published author, you started a business of your own. You’re both the chef and the restaurant owner at the same time. You owe it to yourself to get better not just in your craft, but at understanding marketing so you can expose more and more people to your craft. If what you do is write all day, you have fallen into the A-Myth—the author myth—that simply because you love to write and everybody around you says you ought to publish your book, you should start a business as a self-published author.

Since the barrier to entry is so small, I say go ahead and do it, but know that success is reserved to those who are both good writers and good marketers. Dedicate time away from working in the business (writing) to working on the business (learning about marketing). Join the Authors Academy, where we teach you how to work on your business so you, too, can avoid the dreaded A-Myth!

How much time do you dedicate to working on your business?