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Stuart Johnson, Deseret Morning News
Visitors check out the myriad booths and business opportunities at the Big Business and Technology Expo in the McKay Events Center at Utah Valley State College.

OREM — Michael E. Gerber wants to change the way entrepreneurs think about their work.

The author of the book "The E-Myth Revisited" and owner of the California-based consulting company E-Myth Worldwide said Wednesday that entrepreneurs often find themselves misguidedly working "in" businesses rather than working "on" them, thinking of their company as a place to work rather than a business opportunity.

"The point is you've got to make the decision. . . . You've got to tie your hands behind your back," Gerber said during a seminar highlighting the Big Business and Technology Expo at the McKay Events Center at Utah Valley State College.

Entrepreneurs need to build a company in order to sell it, he said. "As an entrepreneur, my business is my only product. . . . There's always an end game that needs to be thought about at the beginning."

It worked for him, he said, as he found ways to replace himself as he moved up in his growing company.

"It's the blueprint for each and every single one of you to get free, but you've got to understand my passion for getting free started before I ever started my business," he said.

Many entrepreneurs don't know what their company is worth to a buyer, he said. Most don't want to grow because of the complexity, increased costs and decision-making required if they do. And they tend to worry about a variety of issues, which kills the excitement and passion that once existed in the company.

"You're so busy working for a living you don't have time to get rich. We're so busy doing and doing and doing and doing that we don't have time for the most important things — the vision, the system, the practice. Seeing it, articulating it, saying it, speaking it, being it and doing it," he said.

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During his presentation, Gerber touched on lessons that can be learned from McDonald's, Ritz-Carlton, Starbucks and Wal-Mart. Those companies do ordinary things in extraordinary ways and in a manner than can be easily duplicated in multiple locations, he said, and they were started by entrepreneurs who discovered that the key to success is differentiating their companies from others.

All big businesses started as small companies, he said, noting that McDonald's head Ray Kroc's firm desire was to build the most successful small business in the world. "It sounds so difficult to do, but hear me, it's no more difficult to do than what each and every single one of your are doing today," Gerber said.

If entrepreneurs can find ways to work on rather than in companies, they eventually may find success that will liberate them, he said.

"It just liberates their time and attention so they now have the time and attention and passion and intelligence they can share with other people," he said. "And suddenly you can touch upon the pragmatic reality of getting by in the world. We're born. We die. What do we do in between?"

E-mail: bwallace@desnews.com