“Use What You Have to Get What You Want: 100 Basic Ideas That Mean Business” by Jack Nadel (JNJ Publisher, $12.95)
Nadel, now 92 years young, grew his sales and advertising promotion business into a global firm over six decades of boom-and-bust economies and changing national and international political landscapes. His business grew because he always focuses on what he has, not what he lacks. His 100 basic ideas come from his successes — and what he learned from his failures.
Here are my favorites:
4. “The 3 R’s for successful businesses are: Relationships, Results and Rewards.” Transactions deal only with today. Relationships think of today’s deal as tomorrow’s table setter. Working together always produces better products, services and profits because two-perspective input leads to continuous improvement.
10. “Scale your business plan to fit your ability to finance it. If funds are limited, take it in stages.” Too many entrepreneurs try to do too much too soon. If you grow in stages, you develop a track record that makes it easier to finance the next stage. You’ll get more favorable terms, too.
18. “Subcontracting is the cheapest form of manufacturing.” Someone someplace has the right plant and equipment to make your product. That person also has knowledge you don’t have. You gain production expertise and a finished-cost contract which makes profits more predictable.
22. “If you can’t explain your product or service in 30 seconds, you probably can’t sell it.” Complexity and misunderstanding are unrivaled siblings. Keep it simple when pitching a customer, investor or lender.
24. “Your business should be market driven — not product driven.” Markets shift; new markets spring up. Pushing what you want to sell creates pushback, not sales.
30. “Perceived value is what sells — real value is what repeats.” You’re better off underpromising and overdelivering.
36. “The marketing program that worked in the past may not fly today.” Products and concepts evolve. “If you are not current, you are extinct.”
44. “Always confirm your agreements in writing.” Memories fade. You can always use a document to point out what the parties agreed to do. Also, handshakes usually don’t work when tested in court.
50. “Don’t let your ego get in the way.” The smartest person in the room knows that “they don’t know what they don’t know”. Presumption of knowledge often oversteps capability.
56. “A good accountant is not just a scorekeeper.” The bigger the business, the more complex its financial issues. A good accountant keeps you on the right side of your bank and creditors. Accountants have specialties; so you may need more than one good accountant.
60. “The chief function of your attorney is to protect and advise.” He/she wants to keep you out of trouble, not bail you out of it. Spending a few bucks to get legal input before making a decision is far cheaper than the cost of litigation.
66. “The right place to manufacture is where you get the best quality at the lowest price. While “Made in the USA” might be politically correct, “bang for the buck” opens consumers’ wallets.
73. “Trust your gut.” If you have butterflies about a deal or course of action, it doesn’t matter what the numbers and your advisors say. Butterflies mean you’re not “all in.” If you’re not all in, you won’t go all out.
81. “Truly understanding the problem is halfway to the solution.” Define the real issue. Focusing on the effects, rather than the cause(s) wastes time and money. Also, fix it right; a band-aid never solves a problem.
— Jim Pawlak is a nationally syndicated reviewed of business books.