E-Myth Lessons: Build An Org Chart [Even if You’re a Solopreneur]

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This article is part of a series of learnings I’ve had from reading “The E-Myth Revisited” by Michael Gerber. It’s been one of those pivotal books in business for me so far. The only other one of it’s caliber has been Start with Why by Simon Sinek.

I decided that instead of putting together one review of the book, I’d break it up into the major lessons I learned from reading it. Here is the full review page that compiles all of these together. Enjoy!

One thing that really stuck out to me when it came to the E-Myth came in Chapter 14: Your Organizational Strategy.

Michael Gerber talks about how “most companies organize around personalities rather than around functions.” So they assign job roles based on the person, not around what that person is responsible for completing.

At first this strategy seems to be doing well, everyone is helping and putting in the work.

But as time goes on the business will start to crack and fall apart. If all the people in the business are working on everything, and no one is necessarily accountable for specific tasks – how is that going to end up working out?

He goes on to share an example of two friends who go into business together. They both do everything – make the widgets, help the customers, do the financials/book, etc. It’s great, they’re totally in this together. Right? No so much.

When something goes wrong with the books and they’re $1,000 short – they have no one to blame, because no one was held accountable for any specific thing.

In the second scenario, he explains that when they start taking accountability for specific roles, things fall into place. They create a full list of “jobs” and responsibilities for each job. Then they assign those between the two of them.

This way, if the books were wrong or didn’t get done, Jack was to blame. If something goes wrong with Marketing, Murray was to blame. And on and on.

Putting This Into Action

I’m getting ready to hire my first employee/partner/person in early 2018, so this chapter really opened my eyes.

I’ve been struggling with what tasks I’ll be giving this new person, and how to decide what they should be doing. And then I got to this chapter and everything seemed to click.

I was riding the bus at the time and started getting so happy as I was reading – I had a path forward! I had this huge grin across my face and probably looked strange to some folks on the bus, but I couldn’t help myself! It was like someone had shined the light on the exact problem I was having AND told me how to work through it.

My Next Steps

I need to create an Org Chart – even though I’m only one person right now. Once I have that built out, I can start assigning roles to myself so I can take responsibility for each one.

As I complete the work for that role, I’ll start documenting the processes and procedures I go through to get that specific type of work done.

Once I go to hire someone, I can then pass off these process documents to them and they will become responsible for making sure the tasks get done.

The whole thing will run closer to an automated machine than a chaotic business. And I’m so excited about that.

Broken down, here are the rough steps I’ll be going through:

  1. Building an org chart
  2. Creating job descriptions for each position
  3. Take personal responsibility for each position
  4. Build processes for each part of the job
  5. Compile these processes into an operating procedure
  6. Successfully hand off that position to a member of the team

Building an Org Chart

Here is my first go at an org chart. I’m going through and building out job titles for each of these, starting at the bottom. It’s easier to run through tasks for a lower, more “technician” type role than it is for the higher ones that involved leading people.

Which was another thing I learned from the E-myth, and it makes complete sense. It’s easier to pass of the more straightforward tasks than the others. Which makes sense once you say it out loud, but it’s not always so obvious when you’re thinking of hiring someone.

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Creating a Job Description for Each Position

This is going to take me a lot longer, but I’ve at least created a document for each one I’ll be starting with. I’ve linked to that document in each bubble of the Org Chart so I can easily go back and forth as needed.

Take Personal Responsibility for Each Position

This was one of the pieces of this strategy that I absolutely would have left out if I had come up with it myself. Taking responsibility for ~36 job titles? And signing my name to each job description so that I’m putting it on paper that I am the sole person responsible?

It seems a little “woo woo” and just another formality. Which it is, but it’s also a complete shift in mindset. Yea, we all say we wear multiple hats and are the one person who “does it all.” But have you ever thought of yourself as the HR Manager, the VP of Finance, the Marketing Director AND the Content Strategist? Or were you just one thing with a million tasks that fell under your one title of “Chief Doer?”

In reality, I can’t do this until I have all of them built out, so for now I will just softly say:

I accept responsibility for all of these jobs.

But I will be coming back to this one.

Building Processes For Every Part of Each Job

Overall, I’m going to start with really basic tasks that each job will encounter. This will be things like:

  • Password management
  • An onboarding type checklist that includes software to download, tools we use, etc.
  • An onboarding checklist for hiring managers so they make sure to have all employee stuff setup before their first day
    • Email Address
    • Paperwork
  • An overview of how to use those tools

Compile These Processes Into an Operating Procedure

An operating procedure is essentially a play-by-play on how a job should be done. This will include process documents, procedures, screenshots of the work being done, and I will probably include videos of doing the actual work to reduce as much doubt as possible.

Again, this one will take some time, but will be hugely important as I grow the business and bring on more people. Can you imagine just handing off a link to a folder that houses everything someone would need to do their job successfully?!

THIS one has me really excited.

Successfully Hand Off Positions One-By-One to a Member of the Team

The icing on the cake. Once everything is done and in a folder like I mentioned above, I’m FIRST going to back it up 3 times so I make sure that even if my computer melts, I won’t lose that precious work.

And then I will hand it off to new team members and have them provide feedback as these will be working documents, especially as tools change and what worked before no longer does.

Okay, so that was my biggest tactical takeaway from the E-Myth Revisited. Have you read it yet? If so, what was your biggest takeaway?

Head over to the main page to get more information and my unconventional “review” of the book at https://hustletostartup.com/e-myth/

5 thoughts on “E-Myth Lessons: Build An Org Chart [Even if You’re a Solopreneur]”

  1. Hi Chenelle, good for you! Thanks for sharing your story.. I hope it is going well, its hard work but it’s nice when it clicks and makes you smile. That is definitely a case of a positive visualisation of a future event and then breaking it down it to steps. Wish you well.

  2. Hey Chenell, I’m just about to begin my organizational strategy. Since you have the headstart, is there a method you have picked up while doing this that might help me to get through and also remember all the different processes in my small business?

  3. Hi Chenell,
    I just read the book twice and I have to say I appreciate you taking the time to simplify it and then document your action items based on what you have read. I wish you good luck on your entrepreneurial journey.


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