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Saturday, May 07, 2005
The 7 Irrefutable Rules of Small Business Growth
Seven Irrefutable Rules of Small Business GrowthSteven Little's book, "The 7 Irrefutable Rules of Small Business Growth," should be on the reading list of all small business owners and anyone who follows the small business market.

I loved this book! The reason I loved it? The book elevates the view of the small business owner.

It is really a strategy book for small business owners. The author urges small business owners to step back and look at the big picture if they want to grow.

His premise is that opportunities and answers are not just within a company, but external also. Or as a mentor of mine used to counsel, "don't focus inside the four walls of the business, look outside."

This is an easy-to-read book. The cover features a testimonial that says of the author, "Steve is a true story-teller." If you are like me, you probably take book testimonials with a grain of salt. But this one gives an accurate picture of what to expect. Steven Little is a story-teller and he keeps it interesting with real-life examples.

One such example in the book involves the tale of two rope making businesses. One focused on growing a plant -- henequen -- and making natural-fiber rope from it. The other defined its business more broadly, as providing ropes of any materials for the shipping industry. The business that focused narrowly on henequen saw demand for natural-fiber rope decline dramatically, and is now at a mere fraction of its one-time peak. The business that saw itself in the context of a world that was changing, with new technologies, and focused on meeting its customers' needs, changed with the times and now manufactures rope made of synthetic materials. It is thriving. It's this kind of example that drives home the author's points and keeps you turning the pages.

The most unique part of the book is the chapter on seeing the future more clearly. In fact, it's Rule #7 of the book's irrefutable rules.

The author talks about the need to listen to "weak signals" around you of what is happening: new ideas, new styles, new products. He even suggests that every business owner needs to read 50 magazines a month (or web sites, newspapers, research reports, or other sources of information).

Although he doesn't use the word, in essence, he says that every business owner needs to be a trendspotter. Why? So that they can forecast their companies' next moves.

This passage from the book explains it best:
"Most successful, growth-oriented entrepreneurs I know are voracious gatherers of information. By combining their own internal trend data, their external scanning efforts, and understanding of potentially disruptive weak signals, they are prepared to take their forecasting to the next level."
Be sure to read the companion guest column by Steven Little, Using "Weak Signals" To Identify Opportunities, which illustrates more of Rule #7 in the book.

Bottom line: Read this book. You will get good value from it. If you are into mixing business and pleasure, it's even engaging enough for summer reading on the beach.
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