Business Basics: A book review by Bob Morris

Business BasicsBusiness Basics: Prepare Yourself, Add Customers, Cut Costs, and Eliminate Investments for You and Your Stakeholders
Donald Mitchell
400 Year Project Press (2012)

A cohesive, comprehensive, and cost-effective “game plan” for achieving and then sustaining peak performance

Note: I read this book when it was published (April 20, 2012) and only now am getting around to completing the review I began then.

What we have in this volume is presumably what Donald Mitchell considers to be most important among the abundance of information, insights, and counsel he has shared in his previously published books. However, the cost of the paperbound edition may be problematic (if not prohibitive) for those who need this book most: decision-makers in small to medium sized companies, the business sector in the U.S. that continues to generate most of the new jobs our nation so desperately needs. He dedicates this book to the “2,000 percent solution entrepreneurs who have created complementary breakthrough solutions.”

The material is carefully organized within four Parts, each in response to an especially important question:

o Prepare Yourself: “How should I prepare to lead an extraordinarily successful enterprise?” (Lessons 1-5)

o Add Customers: “How can my company expand a market’s size by twenty times and profitably gain market share while doing so?” (Chapters 6-23)

o Cut Costs: “How can my company’s costs (and those of my stakeholders) for providing and using an offering be reduced by 96 percent?” (Chapters 24-36)

o Eliminate Investments: How can my company and its stakeholders decrease the investment needed to provide and use an offering by 96 percent” (Chapters 37-52)

Appropriately, the prefix for each of these questions is “How,” Mitchell’s focal point in each Part within the narrative. He is determined (at times driven) to help each reader to understand each of 52 “Lessons” (he devotes a separate chapter to each) and then apply them effectively and efficiently.

He and I are in full agreement that business leaders must be fully prepared and that includes mental/physical/emotional/spiritual health; also, that growth of client and market shares must be both prudent and profitable; that waste elimination should be a core competency (and constant) but that proportionality should be achieved by rightsizing rather than downsizing; and finally, that decisions to decrease (if not eliminate) investments should be based on an appropriate, verifiable ROI.

How best to read this book? Here are my suggestions:

1. Read and re-read the Table of Contents
2. Then read Mitchell’s Introduction
3. Go back and re-read the Table of Contents again, this time paying closer attention to what each Lesson focuses on
4. Select the 3-5 (at least three but no more than five) Lessons that are most relevant to your current needs, interests, objectives, concerns, etc.
5. Next, read and then re-read the Lessons you selected
6. Finally, select one specific goal and formulate a list of 3-5 (at least three but no more than five) action steps to take within the next five (5) business days

If you decide to follow this six-step process, please keep in mind this observation by Peter Drucker: “There is surely nothing quite so useless as doing with great efficiency what should not be done at all.”

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