Monday, November 03, 2008

Sound Advice: The Knack

I breeze through a business book a week and this week I finished the latest creation from authors Norm Brodsky and Bo Burlingham called The Knack: How Street-Smart Entrepreneurs Learn to Handle Whatever Comes Up. Messrs. Brodsky and Birlingham are two of my favorite columnists at our media partner Inc. magazine. Full disclosure: I did not buy the book. Their publicist sent me a complimentary copy.

The Knack is a great book for anyone who yearns for brilliant common sense advice from Norm Brodsky that grew out of years of experience as a serial entrepreneur. He's seen and done it all -- made mistakes, fell down, picked himself up, and figured out how not to do it again -- and it shows throughout this book. One of my favorite quotes is, "You can't succeed without trying." Simple but so true and oftentimes we need to hear that message over and over again to get us going. And Brodsky will get you going.

In the October 2008 issue of Inc. magazine, Brodsky writes "Street Smarts: Secrets of a $110 Million Man." In it, he talks about ten lessons he learned over the past 29-plus years of running businesses, the lessons that he still relies on today and that I think are absolutely spot-on. Here's a glimpse at Important Lesson No. 1:
1. Numbers run a business. If you don't know how to read them, you are flying blind.

When I started out, I thought that CEOs ran businesses with the help of their top executives. What I didn't realize is that a business is a living entity with needs of its own, and unless the leaders pay attention to those needs, the business will fail. So how do you know what those needs are? There's only one way: by looking at the numbers and understanding the relationships between them. They will tell you how good your sales are, whether you can afford to hire a new salesperson or office manager, how much cash you will need to deal with new business coming in, how your market is changing, and on and on. You can't afford to wait until your accountant tells you these things. Nor do you have to become an accountant. You do have to know enough accounting, however, to figure out which numbers are most important in your particular business, and then you should develop the habit of watching them like a hawk.
To find out about the other nine lessons, visit "Street Smarts: Secrets of a $110 Million Man," and if you like what you see, buy The Knack. Small price to pay for a zoom lens into Brodsky's mind.

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