The Business Book
The Business Book
The Business Book
Edited by Sam Atkinson
An essay written by Tao Daniel
The Business Book, edited by Sam Atkinson, can be described as “The Business Bible” (which is ironic since Bible comes from the Latin Biblia for “book”). In this book, the reader will have the chance to hear every good tip there is to know before and while making a business. This is the perfect book to get basic but essential business knowledge and read the best tip and stories from the biggest names of the business world, all in one volume.
This essay will go through the 6 chapters of book, delivering an objective analysis and finally answer the problematic: Is The Business Book enough to get into the business world or just a fake cover for a repository of mainstream quotes and basic teaching that ultimately will offer you nothing but superficial motivation and confidence to start your business?
START SMALL, THINK BIG
The book starts big with a chapter full of motivation, “business secrets” and the “Actual solution to a successful and wealthy business”. Everyone who’s starting their journey in the business life would find there a true gold nugget; but it this gold nugget 24K solid gold or just some copper plated in gold?
The title, “start small, think big”, is a friendly reminder that every big dream can be achieved, but only if they are built step by step. Norman Vincent Peale said “Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.”, a quote that in fact inspired a lot of people around the world. However, one does not simply go from 0 to 100 in a single giant step, and it might take a lot of time, try and milestones to reach the big dream. Mcdonald’s didn’t had 36.000 restaurants on their first year, they started small with one, then opened another, and another again, until today where you can one of their 36.000 restaurants in not less than 100 different countries in the world.
So now that you have your big idea, and the awareness of the gradual growth, what do you need to know next?
Well the book offer you some more motivation with excellent quotes that you usually find on Facebook pages such as “The only thing worst than starting something and failing … is not starting something” (-Seth Godin, US entrepreneur, 1960- ) or the overly famous “If you can dream it, you can do it.” By Walt Disney.
But in the middle of all that, can be found some valuable learning, such as the big question on “should I put all my eggs in the same basket?” or the necessity to adapt in all different kind of business in order to survive.
And after few pages, the book actually teaches the reader things that we do not find in the commons “10 things an entrepreneur should know before starting a business.” that we usually find on Forbes or other website of the kind. Those learnings are focused on the market niches, how to actually face and respond to competitors and the main points that entrepreneurs of all kind should keep in mind.
The book also point that its content is mainly made for people with entrepreneurial spirit but it could just very useful and mind-opening for anyone who’s questioning their life choices and trying to find their path; all you have to do it to read all the texts that are above 14 of font size.
This chapter emphasize a lot the importance of performance in the business world – “be first or be better” […] “The secret of business is to know something that nobody else knows.”, but business is not only about performances, and on the entrepreneur point of view, it’s also a way to do what you like, the way you like. And in a general matter, one can be a good manager or marketer for a bank or a factory that he doesn’t give more interest to it but the tasks he has to achieve and the pay that comes with it, but will tend to be way more efficient and happier at work if he execute the same post in a company he likes, a snooker company as he likes it for example.
And on this, the Proakatemia experience could’ve been even better for Avanteam if they turned their prospecting more toward what they enjoy rather than what they can do or what is more “realistic”.
To come back on performances, the book quote this meaningful statement from Anita Rodrick –“ If you do things well, do them better”, meaning that there is always room for improvement, no matter how good you are and that constant improvement and learning is necessary to rise above and stay ahead of your competition.
LIGHTING THE FIRE
Now that the book taught about the important things to know before starting a business, the main goal will be to keep this momentum to actually go from idea to doing –“idea is only 1%, the rest are actions”. And to do so it is important to know about a role that entrepreneurs usually face sooner or later: being a leader.
“Managers do the things right, Leaders do the right things”, what’s best to start a new chapter if it’s not with some motivational quotes? Beyond the quote, the book actually explain that leader is a step above manager. Leaders are the ones who develop visions, the ones who conquer, even in the hardest time, the ones who advocate change and new approaches. Managers, then, are the ones who implement those elements brought by the Leaders to make a new and stable environment. Managers makes sure that everything goes well and things are done in the right way, Leaders are the ones who elevate the business, the ones able to lift a person’s vision to high sights. And this part aims to teach the right attitude to the want-to-be entrepreneur: be a leader, not a manager.
The book continues with some more great teaching, now focused on team-spirit. “None of us is as smart as all of us”, in a team, there is never one person who is as good or as smart as the whole team (including him), meaning that everyone has something to offer to the team. “Successful teams provide an environment for new ideas”, and never someone will be more innovative alone than in a team.
“Teamwork is the fuel that allows common people to attain uncommon results.”
Following this, the book emphasizes the fact that innovation take place all the time, “innovation must be invasive and perpetual: everyone, everywhere, all of the time”. And by this, saying that the most successful and innovative teams are open to innovation from anyone at any time. One great example is Nintendo, when Gunpei Yokoi started as a janitor in the company in 1965 and eventually created the Game&Watch and the GameBoy many years later after catching the eyes of the then president Hiroshi Yamauchi, making the company a great success ever since.
The book will in this chapter cover Leadership, Teamwork, Company as an entity, will give some tools such as a description of the Belbin test and its roles and of course its fair share of quotes and tips from the big names such as Steve Jobs and Margaret Thatcher.
MAKING MONEY WORK
The finance part is here, nothing magical, but definitely some important things to acknowledge and think about. The business book will not go easy, the first topic of this chapter is fraud, do not let yourself be in a fraudulent business. “Play by the rules” the book quote, “good firms and accountants consider rules plus morality”. In short, respect the law or you might end up in jail. There is not much to add about it expect that the book will try to convince that ignoring rules and fraud are not a good idea at all, and this even though it might look cool and totally doable in Breaking Bad or series of the kind. On to of that, fraud will make you vulnerable in many different ways, and not only in front of the justice.
The books will then give some legal advices on how creating wealth, “Borrow short, lend long”, “Place your money where it bears interest”, all the things you can find on Ted Talks or Business Youtuber on their “how to be rich in 3 key elements” kind of video. However the book also mention the danger of greed and avarice when it comes to be an executive officers, some people will hardly understand the actual meaning of company “shares” and will tend to keep to most out of it to get the most revenue. But in a healthy business, unless the CEO is the vital core of the company, the shares are broadly distributed between shareholder, making the company more about the bigger entity that it is than the belonging of one person, who will have the ultimate rights on it. “Leadership is a privilege to better the lives of others. It is not an opportunity to satisfy personal greed.” -Mwai Kibaki, Former President of Kenya.
“Make the best quality of goods at the lowest cost, paying the highest wages possible. Your workers are your customers.”. This way it allows your employees to consume your product and therefore get a return on money but also raise the happiness of your staff. Another thing to remember from it goes hand in hand with the three elementary rules of business: 1. Better before cheaper, 2. Revenue before cost. 3. There are no other rules. And in that case maybe we can transform the last rule as “don’t forget your and your employees’ happiness”, which should fit just right if you apply the 2 first rules correctly.
Now the big irony of this book is that the next topic in the financial chapter is called “Swim upstream. Go the other way, ignore the conventional wisdom”, Which is not only the thing that is commonly said and said again on every business magazine, but also ironic because the whole book is based on conventional wisdom and model to follow from the successful ones. So as an advice, don’t follow one specific model or opinion and learn as much as possible until you can forge your own wisdom.
And to end this chapter, the book will cover debt and cash. “Debt is the worst poverty”, starts the book about the topic, but in fact it doesn’t actually explain anything like that. In the book, debt is analyzed in two situations, the first being increasing leverage, which allow companies to focus on growth, and the second being decreasing leverage, which allow companies to focus on increasing profit. Speaking of cash, it’s easier to relay credits in times of economic stability, but when recession comes, relying of credit is dangerous, therefore cash is king.
THE THREE OTHER CHAPTERS
The three other chapters, working with a vision, successful selling and delivering the goods cover all the essential topics that one who made it from “idea to business” need to know in order to keep its company healthy and successful.
In the first of those chapters, the book will talk about how to turn every disaster into an opportunity. Which, if you are interested to know more about that, invite you to read the “WWE ruthless aggression” essay written by Tao Daniel, findable on Essee Pankki. This chapter also cover innovation and bringing new vision to the market: “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.” – Henry Ford, on his speech about the car. And to finish the chapter will come back to some points from the first chapter about “be first or be better”, basically do not get caught in the middle, only the best or the cheapest make a difference, but all great business-persons knows that being the cheapest is actually a bad road to take, where only the volume of sales is the positive part of your business.
Successful selling, the 5th chapter of the book and the 2nd to be summed on this part, is mostly about marketing and understanding the customer, the “customer oriented” vision. And to be honest, this part is once again full of quote and tips, not a lot of theory and tools, if the reader gets bored at that part, he could as well just search for “marketing tutorial” on YouTube and listen to it as a background noise while playing Minecraft if his friends on the new update. Meaning of this is that the teaching is really basic and mostly common sense, things that we hear all the time and see in every movies/shows and doesn’t teach much. Even rookies won’t learn much from this chapter, but it doesn’t lessen the valuable learnings from the previous chapters.
Finally, the last chapter “delivering the goods”, is about just as obvious as it sounds: production and post-production. And there you will find some good teaching mixed with clumsy information. But out of it all, the most important learning of this chapter is about logistic and optimization. “Eliminate unnecessary steps” sounds pretty obvious but most companies tend to not see those actual “unnecessary steps”, an out-of-the-box vision is necessary to identify those steps and ideally replace them with simplicity:
“simplicity – the art of maximizing the work not done – is essential”
-Principles behind The Agile Manifesto (2001).
Regarding optimization, the book with point the necessity to continue learning and developing even after the launch of a product, to always aim for improvement. “Learning and innovation go hand in hand”, “your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning”, a whole lot of quotes to make you think about your issues and try to solve them, an actual solution that work for some.
In the end, this book respect its promise and do deliver the basic knowledge but also some more advanced teaching about starting a business, the entrepreneur spirit, building a team, the heavy stuff (finance), being different, going to the market and the post-production. However, most of the content stay very simple as we could call it “vanilla” and look similar to those “become an entrepreneur and make 10K$ a month in less than a week – tutorial” videos on YouTube. And for those who were attentive and studious in business class, they might not find more than a bunch or reminders from their first year of school. Following this, the excessive amount of unexplained quotes that you can find in average 2 to 3 time per pages, can help oneself to open their mind on their current position and questioning and lead them to a better thinking, more broad and objective. Beside that, this 352 pages book could’ve just fit in a 100 pages handbook if it wasn’t for the wild quotes coming now and then, saving either time to the persons actually interested for reliable theory or back pain to those who had to carry this nearly 2kg book filled at 70% with unnecessary content. Save yourself 20€ and look for similar content on free e-books or videos on YouTube.
- The business book – Sam Atkinson, 2014.