Working “On” Your Business – The E-Myth Revisited

I just finished a pretty decent book called The E-Myth Revisited by Michael E. Gerber. It helped me get my head around some misconceptions I had about running a small business.

The author really pushes building your business as if it is a prototype for a franchise, regardless of whether you will ever spin it off into a franchise. By doing this, you are in effect documenting every important feature, process and procedure of your business so that you could sell the rights to someone else and they could operate it turn-key. And if everything is so well defined you could sell it turn-key, then at the very least you could hand off enough of the duties to take a vacation once in a while.

A key quote: You need to spend more time working on your business instead of working in your business.

Reading the book was a bit of a fluke – I had seen the title at the bookstore for quite a long time and always figured it was a dot-bomb retrospective. But a while back I picked it up and flipped to a section when the author is describing a woman running a pie shop. It sounded close enough to a bakery for me, so I read on and finally picked up a copy.

The only downside for me was that most of the book is written as a parable (a la The Wealthy Barber) which wears thin quickly — the author likes monologuing too much for that format. But it’s pretty good nonetheless. Well worth picking up at the library.

But I Want To Follow Directions!!

I was reviewing recent posts at the brick oven list and there was a post from a fellow just starting his oven building journey. He’s going to be building a 5’x7′ oven based on Alan Scott’s plans and was frustrated that the number and type of blocks the plans called for is a little off.

My first reaction was ‘join the club’ as I found many inconsistencies with my oven plans too. In the end my oven build required the knowledge within the plans, Alan himself, the brick oven list, my own experience, knowledge from product suppliers (minimal) and the opinions of a half dozen friends and family members.

Does this mean the plans are no good? I don’t think so. Maybe they are just mis-named. People have an expectation that ‘plans’, especially plans which cost up to 10% of the price of materials, should be very clear step by step instructions. Clear pictures, no inconsistencies and on Right Way to put the thing together. Alan Scott’s oven plans are not that type of ‘plan.’ I see them as more the compiled wisdom and best practices of a man who has built over 100 of these ovens and has been around long enough to see them in action for many years. Ideas change over time and Alan’s views on oven construction have changed over time as well.

Dealing with inconsistencies in the plans were a pain in the butt, no doubt. But in the end it was an advantage too. I now know the purpose of every component of the oven because I had to make a conscious decision of how to build each piece.

Now could the plans due with a new revision? You bet. But I suspect Alan is more interested in building ovens and learning from the build experience than going through the work of revising the plans. When I read his book on oven building I got the sense that Dan Wing was the catalyst for getting all Alan’s thoughts into a format where a book could actually be created. Perhaps “Brick Oven Plans 2.0” is an opportunity for enterprising copy editor with a passion for bread…

Mixer Woes

Hobart Mixer

The dough hook for my 20QT Hobart Mixer arrived this week so I’ve got the itch to do some large scale baking. I spent most of Friday giving the mixer a good clean. When I bought it it looked pretty clean already but once I got started I realized it was actually quite grimy.

I think I’m in a bit of trouble because the bowl lift is all gummed up. I think the previous owners were using the mixer for icing because the whole bowl lift mechanism is plugged up with syrup. I finally decided to take the bowl lift apart but the 6 screws that hold it all together are seized up too. I tried heat, cold, water and penetrating lube but I can’t get them to budge at all. Hopefully Canadian Tire has some miracle product that will release the screws.