May 18, 2004
News & Opinion: Book Review: How To Make Money in Small Business
How to Make Big Money in Your Own Small Business: Unexpected Rules Every Small Business Owner Needs to Know by Jeffrey J. Fox is a delight. This wise collection of linked aphorisms gracefully presents solid ideas without ever sounding parochial. Unlike some books that relentlessly sell their ideas, Fox cleverly focuses on short, pithy, and useful lessons for the reader. He doesnt cite companies youve read about in flashy magazines. He bases his authority on what he knows, presumably from direct experience or observation. This gives his book a sense of authenticity that, for me, is refreshing. Many of his lessons qualify as unexpected. Learn some Latin (such as quid pro quo and carpe diem.) Hire a personal driver to free up your time for more important matters, since, he explains, any activity that robs you of your customer-getting time robs you of your business. Run like the plague from a home office, since tax deductions never equal the cost of reduced productivity and reduced flexibility inherent with a small office. Not all his core lessons are this quirky. For example, Fox returns often to the fundamental rule of always, always having customers, and selling to them. He runs through the financial basics in a way that most readers can benefit from. He goes into detail on small but important matters as hiring, running (or avoiding) meetings, and keeping records. While many of Foxs myriad lessons tackle very particular practices, they add up to a handful of wise principles. As the owner you need to spend your time on the most important activities, which are selling, and tending to customers. You need to use your time, which is limited, in the most effective manner. You need to create an organization, which, through outsourcing, wise hiring, and bootstrapping, leverages the talents and passion of everyone. If youve read Foxs past books (How to Become a Great Boss, How to Become a Marketing Superstar, How to Become a Rainmaker, Dont Send a Resume, and, How to Become CEO), you will find some overlapsuch as his advice that young entrepreneurs tend to grow into the best business people, that hard work trumps anything else, and that customers are the life-blood of business. If you havent read his other books, I recommend that you do. A business book editor who I admire enormously once said to me that theres a great difference between simple and simplistic. Im a bit grumpy about many popular business books today that cant tell the difference. (Which bring to mind one of the many great lines in Spinal Tap, namely, There such a fine line between cleverand stupid.) Readers will enjoy Foxs books because they accessible and resonant without being simplistic or smarmy. They are quirky, surprising, fun and easy to read, and, yes, useful.