Back in 1998 my call center company, Appletree Answers, was an absolute disaster. Started in 1995 it was only 3 years old at the time, but I was struggling to make payroll, was living on a twin bed at the office, and sleep deprived at a level I can’t even fathom today. The struggle was REAL!
I was struggling to get customers and grow, while trying to also run the business, and actually working as a call center rep. (We were open 24/7 and I couldn’t afford staff at night, overnight and weekends.) I had a giant buzzer next to the bed so when the phone rang at night it would wake me up and I could answer it… our upstairs residential neighbors LOVED THAT IDEA (said no one ever)!
See a picture of my first office/apartment above..
In my desperation to grow I scraped together $2500 and hired a “marketing company”. I went to their offices and met with the owner of the company and his young college intern, and in a 4 hour “discovery session” I told them everything I knew about my business, my industry, and my customers. About 3 weeks later I received a report from them… beautifully produced and type set, with full color in a presentation binder… that essentially just repeated everything I said in the consultation.
It was USELESS! A complete waste of $2500 I didn’t have in the first place.
During the meeting where they presented the document to me, the owner of the firm made an off-handed remark that he was working with a local coffee shop chain and had recommended The E-Myth Revisited by Michael Gerber to the owner of the coffee shops and she was really enjoying it.
In hindsight, today, knowing what I know now that one throw-away line was worth hundreds of thousands, actually millions of dollars.
I was an avid learner and reader, back then just like I am now, and I bought the book (in a brick and mortar book store if any of you remember what those are) and obsessed over every page. I swore the book was written for me. I couldn’t get enough. I finished and read it again, and again. I have probably read it now 30+ times and get new ideas every time. It was the most important book I had ever read at the time.
Some of the really important key messages:
#1 Your business is not you. Think about it as its own being, a living breathing entity that needs to be nurtured separate from you so that one day you can sell it, without you.
#2 Just because you are good at something doesn’t mean you are good at owning a business that does that something, and in fact it can be your downfall.
#3 There HAS to be a “this is how we do it here” mindset even in the smallest companies (mine was very small when I read it the first time).
#4 The “consistency” of the customer experience matters as much or more as the “remark-ability” of the experience. In fact, the worst thing you can do is create an amazing experience only to not deliver it again the next time, consistently.
I feel that for a budding, new entrepreneur it is the most important book ever written (with Scaling Up being the most important for a growth company entrepreneur).
So thank you Michael Gerber, thank you for as you say, “pulling the curtain” back and showing me a new way. And giving me the tools, and ideas, and foundations, for being able to do that for others. THANK YOU!!!
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