Sell the business, not just the product – but how?


Find out what your customers want, and create a system that does the best job delivering it.

Several years ago, Michael Gerber wrote a book called “The E Myth: Why Most Businesses Don’t Work and What to Do About It”. Gerber’s message: the customers buy the total results of the business, not just the technician’s product or service. Sell the business, not just the product.

For a good illustration of this idea, check out our previous post.

A successful business is designed as a system that delivers consistent value to its customers and its employees – that gives them (and its investors and suppliers) more than they can expect from any competitor. After all, a business can’t deliver excellent products and services if its employees are unhappy, if the business isn’t making a good profit, and if its suppliers aren’t getting paid on time. It’s extra hard to deliver on time if your business is on ‘credit hold’ with a key supplier.

The system is a structured way of doing business that works predictably and profitably, and sets the business apart from its competitors. According to Gerber, the system produces results, and your people manage the system. This is true even if ‘your people’ is only ‘you’.

This is where you take on the third critical role of a successful business – the manager role. The manager organizes the business created by the entrepreneur. He or she wants to make sure invoices are mailed, customer payments tracked, supplies ordered and checked in, bills and employees paid, and all the other details that  both the technician and the entrepreneur would rather avoid are covered.

McDonald’s is well known as a franchise that depends on systems and operations manuals (an article in Entrepreneur magazine says the McDonald’s operations manual is 300 pages long). They make it easy to train new employees to deliver high quality consistent products and service. But McDonald’s didn’t start out as a franchise with more than 33,000 locations around the world.  It started with the McDonald brothers and Ray Kroc. Kroc was attracted to McDonald’s because of the innovative assembly-line process the brothers created.

Your business doesn’t need a 300-page operations manual to be successful. But it does need processes and structure, so your business can run smoothly without you being there. You do plan to take some time off, don’t you? If you’re the only employee right now, this is an ideal time to set up and test your system so it will be ready for your first new hire.

SCORE counselors are available locally or on-line to help you create and manage a successful business. Call us in Pinellas County at (727) 532-6800 or go online to

Image courtesy of crschmidt via creative commons license

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