Saturday, 18 April 2009

Do I have to be an Entrepreneur?

Back from my Easter break and ready to start posting again.

Dennis Howlett
has posted a quote from my ex-employer, Bob Harper at More, about accountants and marketing. Bob is truly passionate about marketing and he and Dennis both agree that often accountants don't do enough to market themselves in the right way.

But where I take issue with both of them is that Bob steers his customers to setting up a business in which they don't do the work, but hire others to do it.

That's the philosophy outlined in Michael Gerber's book, "The E-Myth Revisited". Gerber describes the three elements of everyone's personality - the Technician (who does the work), the Manager (who organises the work) and the Entrepreneur (who builds a business).

I have a one-woman business that builds videos and provides sub-contract accounting services. I actually do all of that. And I have no intention of taking on anyone else to do it. For one thing, employing people these days is a mare. For another, one thing that my paying customers love about my videos is my voice. So how would I replicate that if I didn't make the videos myself?

Besides which, I like doing accounts and making videos!

I also believe (at the risk of sounding like a stuck-up do-gooder) that it's not good for the human soul not to have work to do.

I've read the writing of my fellow Quakers, and am reminded of John Woolman's stand against slavery on the basis that it was not only bad for the slaves, but for the slave-owners, because owning slaves meant they didn't have to work, and nor did their children, and they became lazy and didn't work to their full potential.

So I'm going to keep doing the work myself. I know that means Bob and Dennis probably think I'm a Technician. But if I'm a Technician, I'm a happy one.

And Dennis - watch what you say about Chartered Accountants - we're not all stuffed shirts, you know!!


  1. Hi Emily,

    Nothing wrong with being a technician, the word that once would have been used to describe what you do, is a craft.

    In the past the crafts where weavers, woodworkers or blacksmiths, now they're trainers, wordsmiths or datasmiths as in my case.

    Those with specialist skills (crafts) have
    traditionally been self-employed, had to run businesses but as doers not as entrepreneurs; we're just carrying on a very ancient tradition.

    (My own family on my father's side where self-employed stonemasons going back generations).


  2. Hi M
    I share your views as expressed above. When I established the Tax Advice Network I too resolved NOT to employee anyone - at least partly because of the constraints caused by employment law.

    My experience may be of interest (or not):
    I outsourced certain support functions and as the Network grows I am finding that I have to outsource more and more as I can't do everything myself. Some of my fellow entrepreneurs suggested this would be the case when I launched the Network. I wish I'd listened to them and involved other people much earlier. I suspect we'd have achieved faster growth and more success earlier.

  3. Thanks Tom and Mark for your comments.

    I like the analogy with craftsmen and women, especially as my grandad was a self-employed carpenter.

    And it's good to know I'm not the only one who's put off employing people by the complexity of the related laws :-)


  4. @M: Good for you but remember Mark's words - we can't do it all (you have a virtual assistant right?) but in all things be happy -that's job no. 1.

    I'm a 1-man band as well but that doesn't preclude doing JV's, working with others to share in a project etc.


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