Saturday, January 25, 2014

Business by the book

When you are busy running your own business, as well as juggling the needs of your family, it can be hard to find time for reading, particularly business books.  I have to confess I turn to mysteries and thrillers as my escape mechanism, but I always have a stack of business books on the go, which I dip into when I have time.

Having said that, there are some good reads that I would hate you to miss as they provide some valuable lessons and tools that can help you with your business.  So here are my top ten picks, some of which have been around for a while, but still provide a wealth of information. 

I chuckle as I see the top ten.  You have no idea how long it took me to select the books here!  At one point I had 22 books listed, but I knew you would never wade through the list, so I got brutal and cut out the books that perhaps go beyond the core business basics.  There’s clearly going to be another blogJ   


Youtility: Why Smart Marketing is about Help not Hype 

by Jay Baer

This book offers a different approach to marketing and the author says forget the hype and focus more on helping your customers, because then you create a customer for life.  

He draws on real examples of companies who are practicing Youtility as well as his own experiences in helping brands improve their marketing strategy.

Attracting Perfect Customers:  The Power of Strategic Synchronicity 

by Stacey Hall and Jan Brogniez. 

The authors start at the beginning, asking you to focus on your purpose and mission and what you want to achieve.  

Then through exercises and practical tools, they help you to dig deep to really identify who your ideal customer is and how best to attract them. 

You can also subscribe to daily emails to keep you on track. 


Never Eat Alone: And Other Secrets to Success 

by Keith Ferrazi

This is my favourite book on networking. 

It is one that I usually recommend people read when they want to learn more about effective networking.  

It is an easy read and provides practical advice, together with great stories to illustrate his points.  He shows how givers gain.

The New Elevator Pitch: The Definitive Guide to Persuasive Communication in the Digital Age 

by Chris Westfall

In the first half of the book, the author outlines the seven steps you have to take to develop an effective elevator pitch that is authentic, compelling and leaves the listener wanting to know more.  

Then he turns to different situations where a great pitch is vital, such as with investors, sales or informal networking.


The Knack: How Street-Smart Entrepreneurs Learn to Handle Whatever Comes Up 

By Norm Brodsky and Bo Burlingham

This book provides practical advice and tips that originate from entrepreneurs who have been there and back. Using common problems from start up to growth businesses, they explore the options and give frank, sometimes brutal answers. 

If you want to avoid some of these challenges, reading this book will help point you in the right direction.

The Dip 

by Seth Godin

Frankly anything by Seth Godin is worthy of a space in your library, and this particular book won’t even take up much room.  

While it is small in size, it packs a mighty message and is particularly good if you’ve reached a crossroads in your business and feel like giving up.

Other great books by Seth Godin, include Tribes and Purple Cow

Small Giants: Companies that Choose to Be Great Instead of Big 

by Bo Burlingham

For those of you for whom quality is more important than quantity, this reassuring book will help you to realize we don’t all have to go big. 

Pursuing growth for growth’s sake is not necessarily a sound strategy, and he shares stories of entrepreneurs who have chosen to stay mighty, but small.

The Suitcase Entrepreneur:  Create Freedom in Business and Adventure in Life 

by Natalie Sisson

All of us dream of running our businesses from some far-off beach, but Natalie Sisson actually lives this reality. In her book, she shares pointers on how we can do this too. She’s also open about some of the lessons she’s learned the hard way. 

There is also a great section on practical online tools that can help you run your business from far or near.


The $100 Start Up: Reinvent the Way You Make a Living, Do What You Love, and Create a New Future 

by Chris Guillebeau

You don’t need to have lots of money, argues the author, to start a business and he then goes forward to show you just how, with stories of successful entrepreneurs who have done just that. 

He also takes you through the steps from concept to launch of the business.

Start Something that Matters 

by Blake Mycoskie

In this book, TOMS founder Blake Mycoskie shares his story of how and why he started his business. 

He encourages the reader to find a cause and build a business around it.  Giving is good business. 

With his one for one policy, when you buy his book, a new book is provided to a child in need.

Happy reading.

Friday, January 17, 2014


Much is written these days about the fear of failing, but with the winter we are having, I am much more caught up on the fear of falling.

Yet if you think about it, there are some similarities.  When you are worried about making mistakes, you tend to move forward gingerly, just as you do on the ice.

Perhaps you plan your route, so you stay focused and don’t get sidetracked.  I know for sure, I am studying the lay of the land before I set foot anywhere.  And just as you have  a contingency plan in business, so too can you prepare for the worst, with sand, salt or  spiked shoes – or all of the above. I have been carrying my iphone in my pocket, so if I go out walking and fall, I can reach someone.  So emergency plans are in place.

But you can be going along quite happily, when whoosh, you slip and fall.  Just so with business, it can seem as everything is falling (excuse the pun) into place, when you get sideswiped and like a stack of cards, it can all come tumbling down.

Or you can do what I have resorted to lately which is stay put, not venture out at all and stay stuck in one place.  The trouble with that option, is it takes you nowhere.  Safe yes,  but truth is if you want to move ahead, sometimes you just have to take a risk. 

Yup, there’s quite the correlation here, but I find it much easier to risk within my business, than I am to risk my personal health, so let’s hope this icy patch doesn’t last too long, or I may have a severe case of cabin fever, and that’s not good either.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Users are losers

I always enter into a new business relationship thinking about what I can do to help someone achieve their goals, and if they dovetail with mine, even better.

But sadly I am learning that not everyone thinks this way.  Oh they may at first appear to be looking out for your best interests, but they can’t keep it up.  In the end their ulterior motives raise its ugly head, colouring and often damaging the working relationship.

Take the situation of a good friend of mine.  She has a supplier with whom she has had to detail every aspect of their working arrangement, otherwise they would twist it around to suit them best.  No win-win situation here.

Customer service is just not part of their vocabulary.  As far as they are concerned, there seems to be little pride in doing a good job, or let alone an outstanding one.  But like most rotten apples, they got caught out. 

A couple of the packages they mailed out have come back to haunt them, totally damaged because they took short cuts.  In studying the photos from the unhappy customers, my friend finds that these suppliers were not using, yet still charging for, the required packaging and instead were using free material which was inadequate for the task.

To me this flags two issues – they clearly don’t care and they have no ethics.  Their actions are totally dishonest in that they have been charging for a service they are not providing, and they know that they are not providing it. Now we are not talking about a lot of money, but their behaviour causes you to question their values, their moral compass and trust is gone.

The outcome?   They’ve lost the business.  So their attempts to squeeze more money out of their clients has somewhat backfired, because now they are not getting anything.  The gravy train has stopped. My friend is pulling the plug.

And let’s face it, once you have lost trust and there’s no shared philosophy on customer service, honesty and good old-fashioned ethics, you have nothing.  It’s done. It’s toast.

What continues to shock me, is how people can blatantly rip off others, without much conscious.  Another world I guess.  But at the end of the day, in my view, users are just losers, and it will catch up with them.

Personally, I prefer to take the high road.