Get the Right Business Plan Help

Creating the right business plan can be a source of stress and worry for some and it certainly is an important piece of documentation that will be used if you’re seeking investment from external sources, or approaching a lender for a business loan.

Cover All the Bases

No longer can a person expect to write a business plan on the legendary ‘back of the beermat’ – but instead the business plan must be well conceived, perfectly presented and above all else, absolutely professional – containing all the information that a potential investor or lender will need to see. This means covering all bases and not shying away from any areas; investors are trained to seek out omissions and will expect full disclosure of all areas, particularly financial ones. So ensure that your plan contains sections to cover marketing – the product, the market, the competitive environment, your market position and projections around take-up and market penetration. Make sure that it also covers operations, sales, finances, logistics, the management team, product development, operating and hierarchical structures and any other areas that will be relevant, such as an environmental strategy or any accreditations that you either hold or intend to go for (such as investors in people or one of the ISO accreditations, which can be powerful marketing tools).

Create a Compelling Summary

The executive summary is the section at the front that contains the essence of the report in a brief summary format. It needs the most attention of all, as it will be the section that busy investors read to decide whether they wish to give more time to reading the report as a whole. This means the executive summary of your business plan must be punchy, engaging and enticing enough to lure the reader in and follow through on the promise!

Be sure too to include plenty of graphs and visual interpretations of data, as these can often be viewed and analysed far quicker than reams of text. If you need help with this, it’s best to seek out an experienced coach, mentor or advisor to help you.

Get Help With the Plan

As a first step to getting business plan help, contact your local chamber of commerce, Business Link or your local Enterprise council office – there are a range of business support organisations that work in partnership between the public and private sector and serve each local region. When you get in touch, you’ll find that they generally offer a wide range of business services in addition to business planning support, such as training, networking, access to finance, apprenticeship recruitment, business consultancy, membership schemes and benefits, regulatory and accreditation support and careers or training help for your existing staff.

So get in touch today and register with your local business services provider and you’ll be invited in to talk about your business and your requirements and the organisation will either signpost you to a range of service providers, or recommend services and products that they can offer themselves. Some will be charged for but often subsidised and others will be free of charge, such as the exporting and overseas trade advice offered by the government’s UKTI body.

When Did “Lobby” Become A 4-Letter Word?

Lobbying is a dirty word.

Ask anyone. Read the paper. Watch TV. Listen to talk radio. For the past few years every time I heard about political influence and lobbying there was a prevailing view that if we just got rid of the Washington lobbyists everything would be fine.

But is this possible or even desirable? Is it what we really want?

I don’t think so.

According to the First Amendment of the US Constitution “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” [1]

Apparently the founders were troubled by King George III’s inability to listen to polite criticism.

Basically, the Constitution gives us not only the right to talk to our representative, but encourages us to appeal to them, to persuade them, to convince them to our point of view, i.e. to lobby. The First Amendment guarantees it.

We’re doing it every day with our spouse anyway, with our roommates, our co-workers, and our boss. So why do we have such a problem with lobbying?

For most of us I think we feel that it is unfairly applied — meaning that it’s only the big guys and the special interests that actually make their views known to Congress. This is generally true.

But that’s not their fault. It’s ours.

In the last 10 years the lobbying industry has doubled in size and grown into a $3.5B per year business with about 10,000 lobbyists,[2] and that’s just at the federal level.

We, the silent majority (I include myself in this group) have been conditioned to believe that if we vote for a representative every few years, that will be good enough. We’ll get what we want. We now know that’s a myth.

Occasionally the literary, the erudite and brave ones among us write a letter to our congressman, to the editor of our local newspaper or the New York Times. Some of us sign petitions, make campaign contributions or even go out and protest.

But does that get the job done? Sometimes it does.

Personally, I’d like to believe that one brilliant, well-written letter to my Congressman with a nice follow-up phone call to their Legislative Director would be enough to get him or her to change their opinion about a pending law. But out of the almost 700,000 constituents[3] in my congressional district there are likely a handful of people who would take the exact opposite position of me.

Sometimes they have more money, more time on their hands and they’re more eloquent than I am. If they work for a large corporation with a PAC or are a union member they seem to have greater political advantage to getting their views in front of my congressman and often make more of an impression then I can alone as an individual.

I should just give up, right? Let someone else decide what’s right for me.

Perhaps.

So is that why “lobby” has become a four-letter word?

If I can’t lobby, don’t let anyone else do it either. If I can’t effectively persuade my representative, no one else should either. We should just rely on the ballot box.

But The Economist recently pointed out that “As this direct democracy” and its consequence “ballot-box budgeting”, have grown representative democracy (ie; the legislature) has become dysfunctional… California suffers from the same hyper-partisan and acrimonious deadlock between Republicans and Democrats as Washington does.” [4]

You and I have the right to petition our government for grievances and express our point of view. In all likelihood I’m not really sure that my point of view is going to be heard or even taken into account. Don’t ask me why. It’s just how I feel.

Sometimes I wondered if there were other people who thought the way I do.

So I started asking around at the Little League, soccer practice, Boy Scouts and Brownies and to other parents at our children’s school and once we got past the “Oh, it’s okay to talk about politics.” part, I found that for the most part everyone seemed really frustrated by the political process. I was in good company.

These were just average people; teachers, lawyers, barbers, car salesmen, repairman and a few VCs. No matter who it was, they really believed that if they voted and got “their” candidate into office, then we would have a panacea for this nasty problem of highly paid lobbyists controlling the agenda.

Everything would be wonderful again.

But deep in their hearts, they suspected that their singular voice did not matter and so often resigned themselves to saying “But what can you do? There’s nothing you can do.”

Personally, I doubt if this is true because I think our representative has a point of view about what issues are important to her, what side of the argument she stands on and what she would and would not vote for and support. She would welcome hearing from her constituents either directly or indirectly.

That’s why we have a representative democratic republic. We elect our representatives and they make the decisions. Got it?

They don’t do what you want. They do what they want. The only thing you can do is vote them out and get somebody else in.

But why wait two years before we have a conversation with them?

Have our apathy, focus and daily distractions kept us away from debate on the real issues?

If we evaluated our employees and spoke to our spouse once every two years, we wouldn’t have a job or a marriage. The dialog needs to be persistent, focused and fact-based.

I think members of Congress are pretty much realists and political animals. They understand that in order to pass legislation they have to convince half of the House or Senate to agree with them on key points. So your congressman is always involved in coalition building no matter what the issue is. He is trying to persuade his peers to get them to agree with him every day he is in office.

This act of persuading or trying to bring him around to my point of view then, is really an appeal on my part and is in fact, lobbying. I am trying to convince him to think the way I do, believe what I do and therefore vote the way I would like him to vote.

The frustrating part for all of us is that our representatives don’t always vote the way we want.

Someone persuading someone else or lobbying someone is not a terrible thing. So, we shouldn’t get rid of it.

Effective lobbying is pure salesmanship. There are good sales people and bad ones. They inform us about products and services. From them we ultimately learn the distinctions, comparisons and differences among a wide variety of choices. Products or politics, it’s all the same.

Lobbyists educate our legislators. If they appear to have too much power it’s only because we have taken a backseat and allowed a representative democracy to take place where we are not actively engaged anymore.

We have taken ourselves out of the political debate and we spend our time in our apolitical routine.

Consider the persistently high ratings for Americas Got Talent[5] versus political news briefings.

If we can bring ourselves together we could take charge and have a voice in the political arena. We could pool our resources and have as much clout as a top lobbyist.

What separates us from the activity of lobbyists?

Three critical things:

  1. Clarity of message
  2. A critical mass of constituents who believe in the same thing
  3. Consistency of financial support for the issue and the persistence to follow through

With these three elements we too can shape our political destiny.

Am I describing political Utopia?

No. I am simply describing a crowd-sourced funding platform for personal persuasion. This would enable the silent majority to debate and express their views.

Voting is important but having a consistent dialog with our representatives between elections should not be set aside.

This way, you do not have to stand in the street on a rainy night waiting for the media to feature you on the 6 o’clock news in order to gain attention for your burning issue. Those days are over.

You don’t have to sit in your public affairs office wondering how you are going to locate 10,000 supporters outside your district. You do not have to sign petitions that you don’t understand, nor wonder if your campaign contribution is enough to help gain you access to your representative.

You don’t have to act in isolation anymore. The technological and practical means for political change are here today.

You can come together to shape your future without quitting your day job.

If we act in unison on key issues, it is my belief that we would turn “lobby” from a four-letter pejorative word into a six-letter statement of personal power spelled ILobby.

[1] US Congress. (n.d.). Amendments to the Constitution Article I. Retrieved 07 04, 2012, from US House of Representatives

[2] Politics, C. f. (2012, June 19). Open Secrets. Retrieved from OpenSecrets.org Lobbying Database

[3] Census, US. (2010, April 1). US Census 2010. Retrieved from Apportionment Data

[4] The Economist. (2012, June 16). California, Not Quite Greek But Still Weak. The Economist

[5] Ratings, Nielsen. (2012, June 18). Television Prime Broadcast Network TV – United States Week of June 18, 2012. Retrieved from Top 10 TV Ratings | Top 10 TV Shows

Support Staff Outsourcing in a Developing Economy

Esi Hamilton is the savvy young Manager in charge of Human Resources and Administration in a medium sized bank with 5 branches in Ghana. She manages a staff strength numbering 370 from the management team to domestic staff. Since joining the bank ten months ago, she has implemented several innovations to transform the face of human resource management. Recently, she has been paying attention to the effectiveness and own-and-manage cost of the semi- and low-skilled workers, which constituted 25% of her workforce with its attendant implications on the bottom line. Now, she is thinking about outsourcing their services.

It is a bright morning. Esi has just finished a 30-minute extensive meeting with an HR Outsourcing consultant who spoke elaborately on Support Staff Outsourcing service and the need for her bank to consider outsourcing its semi- and low-skilled workers. She watched the consultant walked out of her expansive office, sipped her cappuccino and tapped her pen softly on her table. She paused, looked at the little sunflower sitting on the top right edge of her table and smiled. She turns slightly and begins to work her fingers on the tablet keyboard? What really is Support Staff Outsourcing? Is it any different from HR Outsourcing? What value does Support Staff Outsourcing add to my bottom line? Is my organization better off without Support Staff Outsourcing? Why should I consider Support Staff Outsourcing for my organization? Esi ponders over these FAQ and urgently requires answers to enable her develop a proposal to her Managing Director for the bank to implement Support Staff Outsourcing service to drive its human resource strategy.

Traditionally, Craumer (2000) surmised that outsourcing which was originally perceived as the “ho-hum tactic for reducing the costs of back-room functions such as payroll and IT” metamorphosed into a critical management tool “in the early 90s as companies began to outsource more strategically significant functions such as manufacturing and logistics, and even product design and other innovation-related activities.”

Support Staff Outsourcing (SSO) as a branch of outsourcing is defined as a management decision whereby a client organization contracts out from within its operations its non-core support functions to an expert provider organization that will deploy its own employees to carry out these functions in the offices of the client organization. There are three parties involved the SSO process namely the client organization, provider organization and the outsourced employees. These three parties play different but equally important roles in the successful implementation of SSO. SSO service usually fails and its objectives faltered in organizations when one of the parties, particularly the outsourced staff is not effectively cultivated within the scope of the Service Level Agreement between the client organization and provider organization.

In SSO service, the client organization takes off its non-core business activities. The provider organization sends in its own trained employees to discharge these non-core functions of the business operations of the client organization. The scope of the non-core business activities varies from organization to organization depending on its size, nature of business, and market competitiveness. The non-core areas usually outsourced cover functions such as Secretaries, Guest Relations Officers, Receptionists, Administrative Assistants, Call-Centre Executives, Franchise Marketing Officers, Mailing Clerks, Cleaning Services, Sales Representatives, Clerical Duties, IT Support officers, Drivers, Dispatch Riders, Security Officers, Tellering and Bulk Tellering Staff (in financial institutions), etc.

It is commonplace in developing economies to widely engage the services of support staff for non-core functions in organizations across the services and manufacturing sectors because these functions are largely executed with little or no automation. The percentage of engagement in the public services sector, which is the oldest and largest employer of labour, is relatively high. Players in the services sector are challenged by globalization, technology and constant changes in consumer preference to deploy their capital to acquire resources (technology and process) in areas of high impact like IT, strategy and core human resources to develop capacity for organizational effectiveness. Under this circumstance, less attention is given to non-core activities, and the managers of these non-core activities in Business Support, Admin or Human Resources Department are constantly under excruciating pressure to perform with little results to show for their efforts.

Chief Executive Officers want results. They cannot understand why their Human Resources or Admin Department are under-performing and slowing down the pace of work. Now, Admin or HR Managers should realize that their traditional role of providing administrative support of business services or personnel to organizations as a cost centre exists in the realm of the past. Contemporary expectations stipulate that they move Admin or HR Department to a more strategic role as a profit-thinking function of the organization. These Managers should now create new organizational capabilities drawn from a redefinition and redeployment of HR practices, functions and professionals that leverage of the core competencies of their organizations. So, what should they do with their non-core operations? Strategic planning for market competitiveness demands that these non-core functions are outsourced to reputable and competent provider organizations that have the core capabilities to deliver results in non-core areas for the client organization.

Inadequate knowledge of HR Outsourcing has made many practitioners and users of the service to assume that HR Outsourcing is Support Staff Outsourcing (SSO) and vice versa. For the benefit of doubt, HR Outsourcing is a body of outsourcing services covering Payroll Administration, Employee Benefits, HR Management, Risk Management and Support Staff. SSO is an integral part of HR Outsourcing but not the totality. Non-core functions that can be outsourced in Payroll Administration include Annual Leave compilation/computation, taxes advisory/implementation, payslips issuance/distribution, etc. Employee Benefits are Health, Medical Claims verification, Canteen Services, Employee Satisfaction Survey, etc. HR Management includes recruiting, hiring and firing, pre-hire background checks and interview, exit interview, salary survey, manpower planning and workflow planning. Risk management covers workmen compensation, dispute resolution, health & safety and HR policy manuals. SSO entails use of support staff to perform non-core functions from Executive Assistant, Secretaries to Drivers and Cleaners.

In another development, HR Outsourcing service is usually grouped into four broad-based categories namely PEOs, BPOs, ASPs and e-services. PEO means Professional Employer Organization. BPO means Business Process Outsourcing. ASP means Application Service Providers and of course, E-services. SSO falls under the PEOs because the provider organization owns the employees it deploys to perform non-core duties in the offices of the client organizations.

Client organizations who adopt and implement SSO service model in services sector in any developing economy should expect a dividend in service delivery quality, cost reduction and increased productivity.

Provider organizations deliver value for money. Quality in service delivery is a critical aspect of the performance measurement. The Service Level Agreement (SLA) will spell out the terms, conditions and expectations of service execution and both parties in the SLA are obliged to perform their commitments. Client organization is certain to experience improvement in the context of its non-core service delivery in terms of quality of employees, turnaround time and customer service. If a client organization is not enjoying this benefit, then the provider organization is incompetent. What has happened is that the client organization has successfully created layers of inefficiency in its structure and the cost of managing such inefficiency and its exit will weigh down the objective of adopting and implementing SSO service.

A recent survey a universal bank revealed that it could save 45% in costs (both direct and indirect) if it decided to outsource an aspect of its operation functions that was managed internally by the bank’s core staff. A whopping 45%! What else can any organization bargain for? Why should a client organization pay more by direct own-and-manage model when the non-core function can be outsourced for value? Also, SSO service also has the in-built capability to predict a controlled future costs. The budget for contract and administrative fees can be planned to circumvent inflation with growth margins in order to determine exact future costs.

An organization can drive top-line performance, increase its organizational capacity and operational efficiency if it concentrates its resources of its core business. SSO service engenders improved productivity for the client organization. The client organization focuses its ability on harnessing and developing the potentials of its core employees converting them into sources of competitive advantage that yield long-term benefits. In partnership, the provider organization deploys its own core competencies to support the client organization to deliver on its non-core business areas. SSO service offers the HR Managers the flexibility and innovation they require to drive their HR agenda to achieve optimum degree of strategy execution and organizational effectiveness.

Some HR Managers argue that drawbacks of SSO service far outweigh the benefits. Is there a merit in this argument? Can the quality of service rendered by employees who are not no the payroll of the client organization guaranteed on a continuous basis? Will there not be disparity in remuneration and welfare of employees of both organizations in the SSO service model? Can the employees of the provider organization demonstrate enough work ethic or loyalty in tandem with the vision and mission of the client organization? Can the provider organization continue to supply quality staff to the client organization?

Can the provider organization vouch for the integrity of data and safety of information its employees handle in the client’s office? Will client organization enjoy high level of commitment to exceptional quality service and customer care from the employees of the provider organization? Will the employees of provider organization deployed to the offices of the client organizations well paid to avoid disruptive exit and defection to competition? How will Labour Commissions and Human Right protection agencies interpret the tripartite relationship of the parties in SSO service – casualization of labour, exploitation or contract staffing? What are the legal implications of adopting the SSO service model? How does the provider organization handle the security issues regarding the client organization giving the employees of the former access to the sensitive information belonging to the customers of the later? How does the provider organization mitigate against hiring, character and competence risks of its employees before deploying and whilst serving in the client’s organization?

A well-articulated and carefully implemented SSO service is designed to anticipate the objections identified as drawbacks and punctiliously provide avenues to blocking them before consummating the SSO service contract, and during the period of executing the service. HR Outsourcing Consultants or professional lawyers with specialty in outsourcing/business services should be engaged to draw up Service Level Agreements (SLAs) to provide a platform for determining responsibilities, accountabilities, deliverables, performance measurements, exceptions and exit clauses. The decision to use SSO service is an investment. If the client organization gets it right and the provider organization implements it in line with the SLA, it will translate to high yield and remarkable profitability in terms of service delivery, customer retention and revenue generation.

SSO service works for any size of organization. Any organization that has more than 20% of its workforce as support staff discharging non-core business activities should consider SSO service. SSO service will relief HR Managers and allow them to focus on more strategic issues as the provider organization see to the welfare and performance of own personnel carrying out non-core functions in the client organization.

It is time to outsource support staff when the HR Manager is inefficient because she is saddled with administrative duties of personnel management. It is time to outsource support staff functions when service is poor and the cost of hiring and maintenance of the personnel is high. The only point the client organization losses is its point of inefficiency. Shareholders, investors and CEOs want value for money in investment in human resources. SSO service model delivers this value.

Esi Hamilton has been typing on her keyboard for the last two hours. She looks up from her tablet and stretched. The time is 1215 hours. “Oh, Kofi!” It is time for lunch. She has a lunch date with her husband, Kofi Hamilton an investment banker who works across the street and she does not want to miss this appointment. She would email her proposal report to her Managing Director when she returns from her lunch. She shuts down her tablet, picks up her bag and sprint past the Secretary, her words “I’m off for lunch” echoing behind her.

The Ecosystem Advantage

Apple has an ecosystem advantage. There is no denying it. Everyone knows it. But what exactly does it mean? In typical, reductionist fashion, iOS detractors acknowledge the ecosystem advantage,wile dismissing it by describing it as a million fart apps. Is a million apps, fart or otherwise, really the entirety of the ecosystem advantage? This deserves a closer look.

Apps

Detractors love to exaggerate the numbers in order to diminish them. Rather than 700,000, the number is stated as a hundred million. A hundred million of anything is incomprehensible. It is a made up number that is offered as a criticism of the real number. It is a way of saying that the number of iOS apps is too big, unimportant, and a liability. The only people who make those sorts of arguments are those who support platforms with smaller numbers. Recently, Google announced that the number of Android apps had tied that of the App Store. Suddenly, numbers mattered. The numbers will matter even more when Google can boast a substantially larger number.

A second part of the criticism is the quality of apps that make up that number. It is not just a hundred million apps, but a hundred million fart apps. This is a way of saying that even though the App Store has a ton of apps, they are all garbage. This argument does not hold up to scrutiny. The App Store has 700,000, well curated apps. It would not surprise me if Apple has not rejected three or four times that number. Google does not curate apps. They take whatever anyone wants to put in their store, and consider themselves lucky to have it. The Android app store is the clearing house for rejected, iOS apps. Frankly, it should be much larger.

Also, there are many more categories of apps available in the Android Market. A popular category is system-level utilities that can replace basic functionality like the keyboard. Another popular category is themes. A theme is a skin that changes the look and feel of the UI. It is very popular to make an Android phone look and feel a lot like an iPhone. Blackberry users do the same thing. Apple does not allow themes. The final category I will mention is pornography. Google welcomes pornography into their marketplace. Apple does not. As I said, Google should have a lot more apps than they do. The argument for quality of useful and innovative apps is heavily skewed in Apple’s favor, with little chance of that shifting in the foreseeable future.

Services

The number and quality of applications make up just one aspect of an ecosystem. Services are another important factor to consider. Netflix is not just an app; it’s a service. It is a platform unto itself. Hulu+, likewise. Services are, portals for third parties to do business on another platform. iTunes is a conduit for studios to sell music, movies, and TV shows. Apple does not make any of that content. They just provide the infrastructure. The iBooks store is a similar service, as is the Amazon Sony, and Barnes and Noble offerings.

A service does not have to involve content. It could also be access to a bank or financial institution. Card-less payments would also fall into this category. Federal, State, and local governments may also offer services via applications that are platform specific. Just ask WebOS and Blackberry users how it feels to be locked out of popular services. The ecosystem game doesn’t matter until you find yourself on the losing end of it. There is no platform more services rich than iOS.

Accessories

iOS users love to accessorize their devices. The main reason for this is simply because we can. Everyone who has an idea for an accessory, brings it to life for iPhones and iPads. They were doing this long before iDevices became so prevalent. iOS users tend to spend more money than users of other platforms. That is a long-established fact that has not changed over time. Detractors suggest iOS users buy cases because their devices are so fragile. That bit of sophistry, however, does not explain the market for every other kind of accessory. The fact is, iOS users accessorize because they can.

Users of other products can’t, at least, not to the same degree as an iOS user. Accessory makers do not make as many accessories for other platforms. There are many reasons for this. One reason is, while there is only one, flagship iPhone at a time, there are several hundred Android phones released at any given time. Obviously, the vast majority of Android devices cannot be targeted for the most popular accessories. For iPhone users, all accessories are available. There is simply no comparison with any other platform.

Interoperability

One more aspect of ecosystem that is often overlooked is interoperability. That is a measure of how devices, software, and services interoperate with one another. All wifi enabled iDevices share data via iCloud. Those devices can also be mirrored on any television connected to an TV. Notes you write on your iPhone can be continued on your iPad, and completed on your Mac without ever saving the document. Take a picture with that excellent camera on the iPhone 5, and edit it in iPhoto on your iPad mini. Start reading an article on your desktop, and continue reading it on the bus from your iDevice of choice. That is interoperability, and it is unmatched by any other platform.

The Ecosystem Advantage

When you see the word, ecosystem, bandied about, it is easy to be lulled into believing that all ecosystems are created equally. “You have apps; we have apps. Therefore, we’re the same.” This is how the argument goes. Competitors do their best to offer something similar to one of Apple’s high-profile offerings, and suggest that they are just like Apple. It is simply untrue. The ecosystem advantage of Apple over their closest competitor is so great, they shouldn’t even be mentioned in the same sentence. Apple’s ecosystem advantage is, indeed, enough to make the case for an iDevice over anything else in the marketplace.

That said. I believe that iDevices would be the clear choice apart from the ecosystem advantage. Some acknowledge Apple’s ecosystem advantage only to suggest that it is the only reason anyone would choose an iOS device. That is hogwash!. Take away the ecosystem advantage and Apple would still make a superior product with superior build quality and materials, accompanied by superior service and support after the sale. Apple’s dominance cannot be reduced to an ecosystem advantage, and simply dismissed.

Apple gained its ecosystem by being preferred by more, ordinary people. The ecosystem followed the success of iDevices. iDevices did not become successful on the coattails of the ecosystem. Apple does not need their staggering ecosystem lead to be successful. But make no mistake about it; they have that lead, and will for a very long time to come.

Written for http://nobrainerappreviews.com

What Books Did You Read This Week?

The modern information age has us all dizzy with information flow. Everywhere you look there is more of it, so much you could never review it all, and so much of it is not worth the paper, blog or TV ticker strip it was written on. So, what should one read?

Well, recently, I asked myself this question and so, I have been going through a personal library of some 4,000 books and tossing out a few, donating a few and sending a few to friends along the way. Every so often, I pick one up and notice that it is interesting and thus re-read it. Re-reading goes fast, as you remember much of it already, once you refresh the subject matter in your brain.

So, may I ask what books did you read this week? Well below are a few of the books that I re-read and would challenge others to read as well. It seems most Americans do not read much once they leave High School, as it is not required and so why bother? This is unfortunate because, one should never stop learning.

Let me tell you of the books that I read this week and maybe one of them might strike your fancy and perhaps get you thinking about the books that you can put on your list to read next week. Here they are;

“The Kennedy Wit” edited by Bill Aber – 1964.

JFK had a real sense of humor. This book is full of excerpts of humorous remarks, speech and writing of JFK. The book is a quick read, a few hours at most, it is a great collection of the Kennedy Wit, he sure knew how to get his crowd to think and laugh.

“Getting to Yes – Negotiating Agreement without Giving In” by Roger Fisher and William Ury – part of the Harvard Negotiation Project – 1985.

There are many great tips in this negotiation book such as: separating the people from the problem, stop bargaining over position, focusing on interests not positions, invent options in order to gain mutual respect even if they are more painful, the other side will not play or the other side uses dirty tricks. There are many strategies in this book of value and to find common ground, reach agreement and understand perspectives, without making enemies or giving in.

  • Power Through Responsibility
  • Power Through Trust
  • Power Through Integrity
  • Power Through Knowledge and Information
  • Power Through Respect
  • Power Through Training
  • Power Through Belief

That alone makes you think a little bit doesn’t it?

“Starting and Succeeding in Your Own Small Business” by Louis L. Allen – 1968.

What are the characteristics of a small business? How do you raise the money for your small business? How are you going to get the customers to buy? How can you decide which products to make and market? How will manage your small business? Yes all covered in this book, some great common sense, real case studies and definitely worth reading. Also in the book is a chapter on the Philosophy of a Venture Capitalist. Have you ever thought of starting your own business? Do you know how? Do you own a business and want to make it more successful? Perhaps a business book is in your future then.

“Competitive Intelligence – How to Gather, Analyze, and Use Information to Move Your Business to the Top” by Larry Kahaner – 1996.

The book starts with some quotes from Sun Tzu and one interesting one from Frederick the Great; “It is pardonable to be defeated, but never to be surprised.” Thus competitive intelligence is paramount in business and this book has plenty of case studies and tactics. This book first answers the question; what is competitive intelligence? How has competitive intelligence evolved, what are the tactics, what are the ethics involved, what can it be used for, the difference between information and intelligence, what does it mean to be stuck in the information age?

This book describes both in-house competitive intelligence to make decisions and gathering intelligence to beat the competition, and even more importantly knowing when another company is gathering intelligence on you. Knowing how to do counterintelligence is often of supreme value. For a business owner or someone considering a business of their own, it makes sense to know the reality behind the game, so you can play to win.

“Funny Money” by Mark Singer – 1985. The books sub-heading is: “The wonderous tale of the Penn Square Bank, the high-rolling oil and gas loan broker in Oklahoma City shopping center whose collapse staggered America’s banking community.”

Well there was this little bank that was working with big banks, which were flush with cash to loan, that became a go-between for banks and oil and gas companies. Things were great during the boom period, but when it all collapsed, the problems were much greater and deeper than anyone had suspected. This is an interesting book to read for those who remember the S & L scandals and the more recent real-estate market collapse. This book goes into the reality of what really happened there, you will not believe the truth. Considering what is going on in the world today, this might be a very interesting book to read right now?

“The Power to Get in – a step-by-step system to get in anyone’s door, so you have a chance” by Michael A. Boylan – 1997.

Salesmen often complain about the difficulty to get into meet the decision makers, as they are busy and go to great lengths to be hard to get at, and for good reason. This book explains how to break down those barriers and how to get in to meet them. The book explains several strategies, some unique, some obvious and all worthy of note if this problem persists in your endeavors. Boylan explains how to do your home work, why things are the way they are, how to know your competitors, what attitude to have, when to blitz and how to leave the perfect voice mail, more importantly how to leave one.

The author continues to explain what to do once you do actually get in. There are lots of stories of success, and case studies along with encouragement, understanding of the numbers game and how to incorporate the author’s strategic access system into your sales career.

“Fair-Weather Flying – for VFR pilots whowant to improve their skills and flying enjoyment” by Richard Taylor – 1974.

Mr. Taylor also wrote the book “Instrument Flying” and probably sold a heck of a lot more of these books than that one. Richard writes with a sense of humor and does not hold back on the reality when it comes to safety issues. If you are a pilot then you will really enjoy this book, it is very interesting, well paced and fun to read. It makes you want to go flying and so even if you are not a pilot, it might make you think about getting your pilot’s license or learning to fly?

“Innovation and Entrepreneurship – practice and principles” by Peter Drucker – 1985

By the time Peter Drucker wrote this book, he had already written the following books:

Management:

  • The Changing World of the Executive
  • Managing in Turbulent Times
  • Management: Tasks, Responsibilities, Practices
  • Technology, Management and Society
  • Managing for Results
  • The Effective Executive
  • Concept of the Corporation

Economics, Society and Politics:

  • Toward the Next Economics
  • The Invisible Revolution
  • Men, Ideas and Politics
  • The Age of Discontinuity
  • The Landmarks of Tomorrow
  • America’s Next Twenty Years
  • The New Society
  • The Future of Industrial Man
  • The End of Economic Man

This book brings all of Peter Drucker’s philosophy and focuses it on entrepreneurial endeavors and helps those interested in going all the way, re-balance their strategies so they can. It is relevant and having been an entrepreneur all my life, I would say that his wisdom is worthy and I wish more people would learn how to do it right the first time, because the hard knocks along the way, well many can be avoided you see?

“Personality in Business and Life” by Louis Thorpe and Evan Croft – 1951.

This is a very old business book that tells of days gone by and business etiquette, how to dress and how to adjust one’s personality to succeed in business. The book talks about character, ethics, social skills, leadership, personality, dealing with conflict, statesmanship, taming emotion, hygiene, appearance, conversation, phone techniques, selling, business letters, Career and diplomacy.

Boy have things changed and yet in a way they have not changed at all, things have just been re-labeled, re-packaged and re-taught. What an interesting case study on it all. Looking at the pictures of someone in a suit with labels attached to how everything must look if one is dressing for success, is fascinating indeed.

“The Art of Case Analysis – A guide to the diagnosis of business situations” by Robert Ronstadt – 1980.

Often business students work with case study analysis, yet how do they know that they are interpreting what happened correctly, as much of the real data and information is laced with PR and opinion, worse the victors re-write the history. If the company lost the competitors tell us of their mistakes and the writers of the era have the last word. If the company won, then they sugar coat the truth and thus, nothing is as it seems.

This book discusses how to read a case efficiently, effectively and correctly. Then how to analyze and various strategies and approaches that can be used and combinations thereof. The authors speaks to discussing cases in a classroom situation, playing devil’s advocate, debate and hypotheticals. Next, how to write a very good case study report. Still the author then describes how to look at financials in determining the case study analysis.

Learning should be a life-time endeavor and you should never stop reading books, you can learn something in fiction and non-fiction books. Please make a list of books you might like to read and start reading more today. It will serve you well.