In Parts 1,2 and 3 we have taken a snapshot at why most small business fail in their first three years and why owners come to frustration or exhaustion. The problem which of the three ‘people’ in each business owner is running the show. I hope you are finding this illuminating.

Now in Part 4 we look at the only ways forward from the point of growing with the Technician at the helm, and the inevitable consequences. But there is more…. there is another perspective. But first – for wisdom, we need to follow the journey through.

Only Three Ways Forward

1.    Getting Small Again

A business can return to getting small again, but one day he will realize he doesn’t own a business – he owns a job!

So the dream is gone. You are under the tyranny of routine, the day-to-day grind of purposeless activity… Finally you close the doors.

2.    Going for Broke

Going for broke is less painful and far more dramatic than ‘getting small’, a business can just keep growing faster and faster until it self-destructs of its own momentum. As quickly as it grows, chaos grows even faster.

‘Going for broke’ businesses are a high-tech phenomenon, with their explosion of wizards and technical virtuosity.

Here the Technician and his people rarely break free long enough to gain some perspective. The demand for the commodity of which they are so proud quickly exceeds their chronically Adolescent ability to produce it. The result is usually catastrophic.

3.    Adolescent Survival

This is the most tragic possibility for an Adolescent business. You are an incredibly strong willed, stubborn, single minded individual who is determined not to be beaten. You do whatever it takes, you have to keep the business going. And you know there’s only one way to do it: You’ve got to be there – all the time.

Finally, your business doesn’t explode – you do! You are like a twelve-cylinder engine working on one cylinder, pumping away, trying with everything you’ve got to produce twelve cylinders’ worth of results. But finally, and inevitably, there is nothing left.

Moving Beyond Infancy and Adolescence

Infancy and Adolescence is the condition most businesses are in. But it does not need to be that way.

A sound business is not built by blind faith in an employee, but by knowing and understanding the true conditions. To abdicate one’s accountability as an owner and take on the role of just another employee, is a weak structure.

The true question is, how big can your business naturally become?

The owner can avoid the fear and pain of uncontrolled and uncontrollable growth by being prepared to facilitate the growth in a balanced, healthy, proactive way. However, this requires intention and willingness – passion – for the personal transformation such a process will call for: accessing new skills, understanding new knowledge, new emotional depth, new wisdom.

A business will grow, or be reduced, to the level of its owners’ resistance to change. The owner’s job is to prepare himself and his business for growth. Even through a process of guessing, the key is to plan, envision, and articulate it. In the process of defining the future, the plan begins to shape itself to a new reality – the unique invention that is uniquely yours. That is the sign of a Mature company.

A Mature company is started differently than all the rest, founded on a broader perspective, an entrepreneurial perspective, a more intelligent point of view. It is about building a business that works because of you but without you.

In a Mature company, there is a vision against which the present is shaped.


Maturity is best exemplified by the best business in the world, such as McDonalds, Federal Express, Disney.

A person who launches his business as a Mature company must also go through Infancy and Adolescence. But he goes through them in an entirely different way. It’s his perspective that makes the difference.

What’s Next…

Now things are getting exciting! In Part 5 you can look forward to what this Entrepreneurial perspective is and its model. We also look at where a revolution happened that radically impacted the world of business, and the characteristics of this phenomenon.

Part 6 climaxes this topic with an exploration of the prototype and, most importantly, how you can apply this to your own small business. Why carry the risk of business if you are just building another job, working harder and not getting the rewards that you first dreamed of?


(Notes originally taken and adapted from ‘The E-Myth Revisited, by Michael E. Gerber)