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Small Business Success Index 4

Index Score*   Grade
73 marginal
Capital Access 67
Marketing & Innovation 65
Workforce 76
Customer Service 88
Computer Technology 73
Compliance 92
*Index score is calculated on a 1-100 scale.

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Posts Tagged ‘book review’

The 4 Hour Workweek

October 5th, 2010 :: Monika Jansen
The 4 Hour Workweek book cover


I don’t know about you, but the thought of working less and playing more is very appealing.  Even though I have my own business, I am most definitely not a workaholic.  In fact, I would always rather be on vacation.  During a recent week-long vacation, I ignored email (both personal and professional)—and it was awesome.  Everyone with whom I was working on a project knew I would be unreachable for an entire work week, and no one bothered me.  Projects are still on schedule, and the Earth is still rotating.

So it was with great interest that I read The 4-Hour Workweek on the plane ride home from vacation.  It was written a few years ago by the then-30 year old entrepreneur, Timothy Ferriss.  This is book is not an Anthony Robbins-type, become-a-millionaire-and-everything-will-be-great book.  Tim actually has his own business manufacturing and selling nutritional supplements. He figured out a way to legitimately game the system so he could still earn money but spend his time pursuing interests outside of work.  And he wrote a book about it, which shot to the top of both the New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestsellers lists.

His main argument for reducing your work load centers on the idea of regularly taking mini-retirements.  It’s a much better plan, he argues, than what we’re expected to do (and what everyone else does): work like a dog during the prime of our lives, take a short vacation once a year, and retire before we drop dead—at which point we can (hopefully) enjoy life and the fruits of our labor.  Tim refers to this as the deferred-life plan, and I wholeheartedly agree that’s a stupid plan.

In the book, he outlines exactly what to do to gain time and mobility, as they are the keys to living like the New Rich.

  1. D is for Defintion.  This section introduces the rules and objectives of the new game—lifestyle design.  Tim assigns some homework to get you motivated.  He asks you to write down and confront and what is stopping you from doing what you need to do to be happier: quitting your job, expanding your business, etc.  He also asks you to write down your dreams and calculate how much they will cost to achieve.
  2. E is for Elimination.  Time management is turned on its head in this section, which is based on “Pareto’s Law” that states 80% of the outputs result from 20% of the inputs.  By using selective ignorance, consuming less information, and ignoring the unimportant, Tim argues that you can do your work in very little time—and thus gain lots of time.  He gives you ideas on how to effectively use your time, some of which I have already implemented myself (yes, they work).
  3. A is for Automation.  Because work still needs to get done so you can get paid and fund your lifestyle, Tim explains how arbitrage, outsourcing, and not making decisions can put your “cash flow on autopilot,” a term I love, and thus ensure you a steady income.  I’ve already started outsourcing more work to my intern to free up some of my time.
  4. L is for Liberation.  The final section of the book focuses on mobility, mini-retirements, controlling your business from a distance, and escaping the boss.  Because of the nature of my work, I can already work anywhere. Until I conquer my fears, expand my business, and hire employees, though, working 4 hour days and taking mini-retirements will have to wait.

I highly recommend the book.  If you’ve read it, I’d love to know if you have made significant changes and altered your life for the better?  If not, what is holding you back?

Review: Conquer the Chaos

July 27th, 2010 :: Thursday Bram

If there is one thing that any small business owner is familiar with, it’s chaos. No matter how organized you are when you start a new business, you wind up as a victim of entropy pretty quickly. There just aren’t enough hours in the day to handle every task that needs to get done and those that don’t quickly pile up into a mess, whether that mess is actual or simply emotional. Good small business owners find ways of handling the chaos, prioritizing what needs to be done and essentially riding the wave. The same chaos shuffles out the business owners that just can’t hack it.

Clate Mask and Scott Martineau co-founded Infusionsoft, a company that sells email marketing software. Their business started out with just the two of them, struggling to support their families and handle the chaos inherent in a small business. Since then, Infusionsoft has boomed and Mask and Martineau have codified their approach to cutting through the chaos in a new book: Conquer the Chaos: How to Grow a Successful Small Business without Going Crazy.

Handling the Chaos

One of the points Mask and Martineau work hard to drive home is that while chaos may be a natural part of entrepreneurship, you don’t have to put up with it. Chaos can quickly consume a small business owner: between the drive to get everything done so that you can actually pay your bills and support your family at home and the stress of being ultimately responsible for everything that does (and doesn’t) get done, stress seems to be a constant companion. The feeling that we should be hard at work every moment of every day isn’t far behind, either.

These stressful situations are almost the exact opposite of why many entrepreneurs go into business. We want the ability to control our own lives, reduce our stress and accomplish something with our businesses. When chaos invades, though, it feels like none of those things is possible. The fact of the matter, though, is that it isn’t impossible to get control of the chaos. There are many ways to do so, but simply getting things under control is the most important part.

One Approach to Chaos

Within Conquer the Chaos, there are two key strategies: automation and list building. List building may be a marketing strategy — and it isn’t particularly surprising that two guys who built a company based on email marketing think list building is important — but it does have an impact on the overall structure of your business. If you have a list, after all, you handle marketing and making sales in a very different way than if you’re out beating the pavement and looking for new clients every day. The approach is one that Mask and Martineau have found very successful in creating a stable business with enough income to let them focus on handling chaos through other ways. The other key to their strategy is automation — getting as much of the business running without your attention as possible.

Image — Wiley Books

Are You Indispensable? A Review of "Linchpin" by Seth Godin

March 29th, 2010 :: Steven Fisher

In his book — Linchpin: Are You Indispensable? — Seth Godin poses a challenge: Take your gift, whatever it is, and use it to change the world. Linchpin by Seth Godin starts with the basic premise that everyone should work to be a linchpin in their organization. This means being indispensable but it also means defining yourself as a third team in the business world. The original two are management and labor but that won’t suffice anymore. “Linchpins are people who own their own means of production, who can make a difference, lead us and connect us”.

He talks throughout the book that the way school has been designed is to encourage mediocrity and just to fit in. He says that school should teach two things – solve interesting problems and lead. He also talks about the lizard brain, fear that is instilled in us at school and poses a question that many of us could quickly answer – is it possible to do hard work in a cubicle? (you will have to read the book to find out the answer)

The Seven Abilities of Linchpins

Seth goes into great detail to show why certain people are linchpins. He says that there are seven abilities of a Linchpin:

  1. Providing a unique interface between members of an organization
  2. Delivering unique creativity
  3. Managing a situation or organization of great complexity
  4. Leading customers
  5. Inspiring staff
  6. Providing a deep domain knowledge
  7. Possessing a unique talent

He points to an excellent example of a Linchpin, Marissa Mayer. He describes Marissa Mayer at Google. From his book “If you could write Marissa’s duties into a manual, you wouldn’t need her. But the minute you wrote it down, it wouldn’t be accurate anyway. That’s the key. She solves problems that people haven’t predicate, see things people haven’t seen and connects people who need to be connected. She is a linchpin.”

Are You a Linchpin?

I put this to you, my readers, are you a linchpin? I believe I am in some cases and in other places I could do better and become one. I recommend that you go out and buy this book or at the very least read some other great reviews below and tell us – are you a linchpin?

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Book Review: Why does Tee Morris’ book have me “All A Twitter”?

October 6th, 2009 :: Michael Dougherty

I constantly source out material for post ideas or unique ways marketing/social media are being brought to the masses. My main source for this is books. I will admit for a tech guy, I like my resource material a little on the old school side, but these are the things I like to read when I disconnect from the laptop.

Lately there seems to be a flood of books about using the tools of social media, such as Facebook, Twitter, and the rest. Some books feel like they are trying to talk to everyone, new users to the experienced, and have left me feeling like I have been missed. I often feel like there are questions that I still had at the beginning that were never answered. There are things, as a moderately experienced user, that I wished wouldn’t have been glossed over or should have been included.

“All A Twitter” by Tee Morris, in my opinion, and mind you that’s worth a lot to me, has hit the mark for all possible users of Twitter. The main reason for this, and he explains this himself in the beginning of the book, is that he, like you and I, is a user of the technology he’s writing about. Not to say other authors on this tool aren’t, but “All A Twitter” doesn’t come across as an instruction manual. “All A Twitter” feels like is a conversation with a friend who has scouted out the terrain way ahead of you and has come back to tell you all about it.

One of the impressive aspects about the entire experience of reading this book is that it did not end when I hit the last page. Tees has built into the book actions to take what you’ve learned, such an experience with hashtags, and apply what you’re learning as you read. This, to me, is something that can break down the fears that a new user would experience and get them to roll up their sleeves to start tweeting. I even find myself going back and searching out those steps I took and seeing how others experienced them.

Tee covers everything that you could imagine from a book on Twitter and, as Tee himself writes, “follows a logical progression with Twitter”. From setting up your account, which mobile phones handle Twitter best, to proper etiquette, Tee covers everything you would need to get the most out of the online tool. The book even has ways to expand the information, such as the “A Little Birdie Told Me…” which are tips on the in’s and out’s of the tool or the “Fail Whale Says…” tips which are there to help prevent you from falling into traps that could derail your enjoyment, and success, with Twitter.

Now, I haven’t written a review on marketing/social media books on GrowSmartBusiness before, but after reading Tee Morris’ book “All A Twitter” that has changed. Once month I will source out a book, new or established, and give you my thoughts on it. At the very least, these books could help expand your idea bank of marketing tips or ideas. To me, the best education in the world is one that comes from more than one teacher.

This book was good enough, for me, to follow the advice offered in the forward, written by Chris Brogan, which was to “give it to someone else”. I’m not going to go giving away multiple copies, not just yet anyway, but what I will do is send the first person who comments here a free copy of the book. And this has to be a relevant comment about either the book or this post. You can’t just put up “First” or some variation of “Give me my free book”. I mean I have standards…well, some what, but the comment has to be relevant at the very least.

To make this easier, your comment needs to be twenty words on if you have read “All A Twitter”, or why you would like to, and provide a valid email that I can contact you with to get the address to send it to. I would love to hear your thoughts in a comment below regardless of who is first.

You can also reach me on Twitter by following me @wickedjava, or on Facebook at

As all ways, if you have been reading, thank you and stay wicked.