The Entrepreneurial Seizure

We are all infected

The "Entrepreneurial Seizure" is the decisive moment described by author and business guru Michael Gerber, in his book,

The E-Myth, Why Most Businesses Don't Work and What To Do About It.

It is the moment where you realize you should... no, you absolutely must... start your own business.

How the seizure happens

The entrepreneurial seizure generally strikes those of us with technical skills. The argument is that we know at least as much, or more, about the technical work that the business does than the guy who owns the business for which we are working.

  • The carpenter knows more about building a house than does the site superintendent.
  • The plumber knows more about plumbing than does the owner of the plumbing business.
  • The salesman knows more about selling a house than does the developer.

The question naturally follows, "If I know more than the owner, why don't I become the owner?" The seizure takes over -- a new business is about to be born.

The other type of entrepreneurial seizure is one in which the technician gets fed up with the stupidity of his boss, and decides it is time to "be on my own".

The totally logical expectation of either of these new business owners is "if I build a better mousetrap, the world will beat a path to my door". Surely the public will recognize a technically superior company and want to work with it.

Unfortunately, as we know from experience, the public - your market - is hardly ever logical. Being technically better is not necessarily a path to success. In fact, it is often the road to failure. If you rely on the public to seek you out because you are better, you will starve to death.

The problem with the Entrepreneurial Seizure

The reason your business could starve to death is that

doing a job and running a business that does the job are not the same skill.

That statement is so important I am going to repeat it:


The physical act of building a house and the mental discipline of running a business that builds houses require entirely different sets of skills.

Building a house requires technical knowledge about

  • local building codes
  • structural engineering
  • concrete
  • lumber grades and sizes
  • framing
  • plumbing
  • electrical
  • painting
  • roofing
  • landscaping
  • and a host of other discrete units of knowledge.

Running a business that builds houses requires managerial knowledge of

  • contract law
  • marketing
  • customer service
  • budgeting and accounting
  • finance
  • risk management
  • personnel and labor law
  • tax law
  • government compliance
  • information management

None of these managerial skills have anything to do with nailing one board to another...But all of them have a great deal to do with whether a construction business is successful or not.

Preparing for the Entrepreneurial Seizure

The solution to counterbalance the dangers of the entrepreneurial seizure is to educate yourself on what it takes to run a business.

Fortunately, while the two skill sets are different, they are not mutually exclusive. It is entirely possible to be a highly skilled technician and a knowledgeable business owner. But you are going to have to develop your business management skills in the same painstaking way you developed your technical skills if you are going to be a success.

You must understand how to handle money. Money is the blood of business. You need to know how to acquire it, how to account for it, and how to maximize the use of it. Learn about finance and accounting, or find someone you trust to guide you.

You must learn how to read the vital signs of your business. Know when it is healthy. Know when it is sick. Learn to use financial ratio analysis to help in your diagnosis. has an abundance of information on applying these resources, and more coming all the time. Keep reading and checking back to find more.

Recognize and accept your responsibility to protect yourself and your business. Recognize that the government and the public are interested in taking as much of your money as they can get, and set up defenses against those events. Learn or seek useful advice about tax strategies and risk management.

You must learn how to identify real opportunities in the market and how to position yourself to take advantage of those opportunities. Be able to talk with customers to find out what they really want. You will discover incredibly useful information. Learn or ally yourself with a company that can guide your decisions about marketing and customer service.

One of my mentors used to say, "If you think paying for an education is expensive, trying paying for your ignorance". Not knowing what you need to know about running a business could result in losses in that business or the loss of that business.

Don't let it happen to you.

Here is a list of Micheal Gerber's business books.  Take special note of the "The E-Myth Contractor" ---->

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