Saturday January 26, 2013
Growing your business faster
Reviewed by ABBY WONG
Title: Start At The End
Author: Dave Lavinsky
Publisher: John Wiley and Sons
DAVE Lavinsky sounds like a helpful guy, and by writing this wonderfully informative book, he has done the business world a favour. He is giving entrepreneurs, small business owners or even anyone responsible for growing an idea and reaching for one goal, a roadmap to grow their business bigger and faster.
What Lavinsky advocates is by no means rocket science. The point is by first knowing where you want your business to end up, you can reverse-engineer your business plan to get to that goal, be it to multiply revenues or to sell the business for millions. An old proverb puts it most simply, “a vision without a plan is just a dream. A plan without a vision is just drudgery. But a vision with a plan can change the world!” Hence, recognising our vision or ultimate goal is essential in the success of any business.
Business owners and managers, as well as their teams, have lost sight of their visions amid the daily battles in generating sales and profits. Unknowingly, they have become short term in their planning and short sighted in their vision. Their long-term aim has been blurred by the daily, weekly and monthly operational routines. Hence, it is high time for them to re-engineer their strategy by spearheading it directly towards their goal.
But simply following conventional wisdom or common sense will get you common result, which means failure in most business, and not the success you deserve. Hence, be unconventional by starting with the end (your desired exit vision) and work backward.
“So what is your vision?” asks Lavinsky, but without waiting, he has already gone on in the following chapters, enthusiastically and earnestly, to help you uncover your answer.
In turn, he, being a season entrepreneur, reveals the precise steps you’d need to take to achieve that goal, brings you back to the basics of running a company and makes you a better leader.
What follows next are Lavinsky’s personal advice on the nitty-gritty of running a company. It is these nuts and bolts that make this book interesting.
One of the major tenets of business, SWOT (strength and weakness analysis), for example, is proclaimed dead by Lavinsky. Though unconventional, it is more logical to focus on fully developing strengths than to try to improve weaknesses. Make sense, doesn’t it?
Do not be afraid to raise prices, he continues. How, you ask. Lavinsky explains and his answer is intriguing but not at all inconceivable.
In terms of management, the problem lies in the fact that business owners have not realised how much time they have been wasting on operating and administering their business. They do not have the time to devise strategies and plans, let alone grow their business. That makes anyone judder, for it is exactly what leaders are doing these days – operating the fort but not steering it to growth.
Human resource (HR) management is the heart of a business, and getting employees to buy into the vision and plan will give your company a sizeable advantage. Sadly, the vast majority of HR managers out there have not been fully convinced of this, and what they in turn have are dissatisfied employees comprising the majority of their workforce.
Finally, how to be a better and more effective leader? You work less, hire the best and do not micro-manage.
There are so many other equally valuable advice, and as Lavinsky slowly builds up his idea, you too will be slowly guided to his final tactic which most organisations will be more than willing to pay hefty sums for their managers to learn. Lavinsky calls these the multiplier tactics and they are proven tactics to help you to generate more revenue and reach the end vision quicker. One of the tactics is not new but it is most clearly elucidated by Lavinsky – the 80/20 Rule.
A book with a chest-full of ideas, plans, business advice, systems and financial models like this is surely a must-read. If your business is stagnant amid an economic slowdown, all the more you need to read this book to give yourself a different perspective.
And if you are already doing well, read it, too, to multiply your position results. Whether to resuscitate a business or to grow it, re-living the dream you have envisioned in the first place is the best way to start. You will realise that Lavinsky, in a prose so plain but so full of life, has got everyone covered. Whatever you may need, Lavinsky has it, and it is this that makes this little book a treasured roadmap.