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SBW Issue 11 Jeneth Blackert

Books That Make Us Unstoppable The Entrepreneur Mind ficient, so one can read them in any order. Strategy is by far the largest section, and begins with “Think Big”, by which the author implies that entrepreneurs have to focus on a high goal rather than simply celebrating survival or profitability. Quite interestingly, he adds his own entrepreneurial history, explaining how he set off with Omni Publisher and never looked back. The book then gives the familiar “blue ocean strategy” for new markets, before coming up with the more original “Work On Your Business, Not In Your Business”, in which the author makes a very useful distinction between being simply self-employed and actually running a business where the entrepreneur focuses on how she can maximize business, instead of running after day to day targets. Next up are the expected chapters on “good” risk and why time should not be wasted. Thereafter Johnson comes up with the original suggestion – create a business that depends on systems rather than people. This, along with Advice 8 – business first, family second, may seem like unpleasant suggestions, but it shows that, unlike a lot of advice book authors, Johnson has his feet planted firmly in reality. Strangely, Johnson soon seems to be contradicting himself when he suggests that criticism and disagreement should always be sought. Soon he emphasizes the need to ask for help and try out outsourcing. Solid and highly pragmatic advice in my opinion, but if the business is to really depend on the system rather than people, why is disagreement and/or help from the same irrelevant people so vital? Johnson seems to return to his system, not people idea when he says that customers with the worst reputation should be dumped without hesitation. He follows it up by arguing that one should create a systems dependent business that doesn’t even need the entrepreneur, so that she can earn money while “doing nothing”. Radical though this may sound, this is perhaps the most logical and practical conclusion of Johnson’s systems emphasis and one is relieved to find that there are no more contradictions of it in the section. 46 | SavvyBizWomen Following these are his quite innovative suggestions for thriving in a bad economy, and not so innovative suggestion for adopting technology early. One wishes that the author had merged the latter with “Adapt to Change Quickly”, since this too speaks of the importance of Pinterest and suchlike. More interesting advice however follows when he speaks of supplying to nonprofits, or following up with clients instead of waiting on them to call you. Equally important advice comes from #27, which suggests that partnerships are meant to bolster strengths, not guard weak points. Some interesting uses of barter in the modern world are discussed in leveraging resources to eventually earn cash. #30,31 and 33 are focused on competition, with discussion of how finding an enemy helps one reach potential faster. Good advice, except that the author should have added that blind enmity can be counterproductive as well. The author signs off this section with “Put out fires quickly”, and “Have an exit strategy”, which are again quite standard suggestions. Section 2, Education, is the shortest, and is composed of two ideas – school is not necessary and MBA is not necessary. Given how often we have heard the former, Johnson really cannot offer much that is new. The latter, however, is more of an eye opener, primarily because Johnson relates his own experience in an Ivy League institution, and how it threatened to stifle his entrepreneurial skills. Section 3 focuses on people and relationships, and is (despite the systems emphasis) one of the most rewarding parts of the book. Johnson begins by extolling the virtues of highly intelligent people, before suggesting the importance of building a good team, and avoiding arrogance or stylishness. Advice #42, Talent Stumps Seniority, may appear disruptive in a system, but it is good to see Johnson emphasizing his own experience instead of being dogmatic about what he mentioned earlier.


SBW Issue 11 Jeneth Blackert
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