E-Myth Mastery: A Great Book That Needed Less Pie

Aaron Hoos

I first read E-Myth Mastery a number of years ago. I had just re-started my business after failing at it a few years earlier and I wanted to make sure I built a business that would succeed.

(Incidentally, my first business failure in 2001 was dramatic; I’ve had a few other less-dramatic business failures that I’ve learned from since then, although my core business has always remained strong.)

Gerber’s own story appealed to me: he had experienced a number of challenges that made my own failure pale in comparison and he built himself back up. Plus, the subtitle for the book—”The Seven Essential Disciplines for Building a World Class Company”—resonated with me.

So I dug in.

Gerber’s book is basically about systematizing the “seven essential disciplines” (the core processes or functions) of a company—enterprise leadership, marketing, financial, management, client fulfillment, lead conversion, and lead generation.

Each of those chapters starts with what I assume is an allegorical conversation between Gerber and the owner of a pie store. Then there’s the instructional portion of the chapter, followed by a schematic and some explanatory content that describes the schematic.

What Is Great About The Book

I like a couple of things about Gerber’s book.

First, he nicely outlines the key functions (“disciplines”) of a business, starting with leadership, but also digging into finances, lead conversion, and lead generation, and more. That is a great approach and even takes what is (in my opinion) the right way to work through your sales funnel (backwards! … which is #22 in my list of 40 ways to optimize your sales funnel.) If you are new to business, start with this and think of your business through this lens of the “seven essential disciplines”.

Second, Gerber emphasizes systems. For each of the seven disciplines of a business, he offers up a schematic diagram that outlines the system you should follow. The diagrams are simple. One example is the Lead Generation schematic that first gives an overview, then the types of lead generation channels, then criteria for evaluating channels, then the benchmarks for selecting and implementing lead generation channels.

I really like this approach of making sure you build systems into your business, and Gerber gives this “seven essential disciplines” as a helpful starting point to do that. For a business newbie, I appreciated that clarity.

Third, Gerber provided a simple holistic business text. A lot of books out there are focused on one part of business (marketing, sales, etc.) or are focused on the opportunity instead of the delivery. But Gerber’s book does a good job of providing entrepreneurs with details to understand many aspects of their business, from how to sell… to how to price products… to KPIs. This is a rare business text that covers all aspects of business.

What I Didn’t Love About The Book

Gerber’s book, though, is far from perfect.

The first and most infuriating part of the book is the pies. He’s got this (allegorical?) narrative thread running all the way through the book of a conversation he has with Sarah, the owner of a pie store. Problem is, it’s not well-written (just like a lot of business fiction) so it suffers from silly, flowery language or annoying conversations that would never happen in real life. I didn’t see the value of the pie section; honestly, it felt like Gerber was just fulfilling a bucket list goal of writing a fictional book.

The second thing I didn’t like in the book was the assignments that he gives in each chapter to Sarah and reader. They felt like filler. I realize it might seem to make the book drier and less interesting but the book would be infinitely more useful with better step-by-step actions of how to implement.

Second Reading

Truth be told, I read the book in 2005 or 2006 and I’m not even sure I got all the way through. It was good to give a high-level overview but between the pies and the details, it was a lot.

I read it again when I took my MBA (in 2007-2008), since I was studying the system behind lead generation and lead conversion (the sales funnel), although I wouldn’t call it a full second reading at that time since I was very focused on it from an academic point of view.

My true second reading of E-Myth Mastery happened around 2009 when I realized that I needed to build better systems into my business. However, I was once again stopped in the implementation stage by the fact that my business was different than that described by Gerber; I knew I’d need to “translate” some of his systems into my own practice and I got some done but struggled to implement fully.

Third Reading

I leafed through the book occasionally (usually when research called for me to dip into a chapter here and there) but the true third reading occurred this year. At this point, my business had grown considerably and I was trying to manage that growth (to maintain my sanity).

This third reading was even more helpful: in some ways I feel that I’ve moved away from many of the very basic points covered in Gerber’s book; but in other ways the solid fundamental components of the seven essential disciplines and the need for systems was reinforced, even if my business needs are now very different than Gerber describes.

The Value Of E-Myth Mastery

Should you read E-Myth Mastery?

If you are completely brand new in business, you absolutely should read E-Myth to get a really useful high-level overview of how to build your business. It’s a good crash-course in business.

If you are running an early-stage business and wondering how to grow, the systems are really valuable but you have to work hard to figure out how to implement them in your own business.

As you grow, at some point I think you’ll outgrow the book. Perhaps it will continue to be valuable to revisit key lessons and strengthen them but I feel that the book’s value diminishes as you go.

Read the book but skip the pie. And, if I could go back in time, I’d tell myself: read it once through as a high-level guide; then read it chapter-by-chapter and try to implement one small thing from each of the seven disciplines. Then repeat that process again, implementing something small from each discipline each time.

I’ll read it again and mine it for more… for my business but also for my clients. It’s not a perfect text but if you skip the pie, you’ll get a lot of good stuff.


Published by Aaron Hoos

Aaron Hoos is a writer, strategist, and investor who builds and optimizes profitable sales funnels. He is the author of The Sales Funnel Bible and other books.