Smart Books: Prompt returns Featured

8:00pm EDT August 26, 2008

Author Ken Blanchard has achieved a unique accomplishment: He’s been inducted into Amazon.com’s “Hall of Fame” as one of its top 25 bestselling authors of all time. Blanchard has built his impressive book-selling track record on the notion that the best advice we ever receive, in business and in life, is given to us in less than a minute.

Blanchard’s latest book, “The One Minute Entrepreneur,” follows in the tradition of brevity found in his earlier works, such as “The One Minute Manager” (and several spin-offs), “The Generosity Factor,” “Know Can Do!” and “Whale Done!” As he often does, Blanchard collaborates with other successful entrepreneurs — this time it’s corporate performance trainer Don Hutson and entrepreneurial coach Ethan Willis. Essentially, “The One Minute Entrepreneur” pays homage to two entrepreneurs: Charlie “Tremendous” Jones, founder of Executive Books, and Sheldon Bowles, the best-selling author and business executive.

The authors weave Jones’ and Bowles’ life lessons and advice, garnered from their collective experience, into a fictional parable about the challenges facing an entrepreneur and his family. The authors focus on three principles that they believe are critical to achieving and sustaining entrepreneurial success.

The beauty of using dialogue, such as that found in “The One Minute Entrepreneur,” is that the authors can anticipate the questions readers might have and include the appropriate answers in their fictional characters’ conversations. Where it gets tricky is weaving real quotes from the lives of Jones and Bowles into this virtual environment. Thankfully, the authors make it work.

In addition, for readers who want some immediate feedback, the authors offer an informative exercise in the book’s brief appendix. Blanchard and Hutson have included the 20 attributes of successful entrepreneurs, and to help readers learn more about how their own attributes match up, they offer a free online self-assessment tool.

The One Minute Entrepreneur: The Secret to Creating and Sustaining a Successful Business Doubleday Business ©2008, 139 pages, $19.95 (ISBN 978-0-385-52602-9)

Lessons learned

 

  1. The authors offer solid advice on managing money. Keeping a steady cash flow in the revenue pipeline is key. A critical component of this principle is ensuring that customers pay their bills in a timely manner.

     

     

  2. Their second principle focuses on company talent and empowering employees to take responsibility for your business. It’s a smart strategy since it motivates workers to share the heavy lifting of growing a new business.

     

     

  3. The third principle offered is that you have to figure out the best way to take considerable care of your customers so they can take care of you.

     

     

  4. The most useful elements of the book are the “One Minute Insights” that appear at the end of each chapter. These, for the most part, are good takeaways, especially when their insights offer a new angle, such as “A strength taken to its extreme can be a liability,” or, “If nobody will pay you to do what you love, you have a hobby not a career.”

     

Required reading

Top-pick books on creating a business

Be the Elephant by Steve Kaplan | From the author of the best-selling “Bag the Elephant,” Steve Kaplan shows entrepreneurs and small-business owners how to grow big enough to make an impact, remain financially healthy and be smart enough to dodge the “five killer mistakes.” He also lends advice on how to strengthen sales and how to avoid growing too slowly or growing too fast. Kaplan started his career by growing Sampling Corporation of America from a basement operation into a $250 million international marketing company.

Workman Publishing, 224 pages

SalesBURST!! by Patrick Evans | Patrick Evans conversationally explains entrepreneurial sales training. This is a very easy read with plenty of tips on how to connect with customers and prospects. Its concise messages are inspirational and entertaining. The thought process on which the book is based allowed Evans to dramatically increase sales within his own business. Evans created EVCOR, a shipping/software integration firm that developed a software-based system to ship packages for Intel, Dell, Abbott Labs, Oracle, Sony and about 3,000 other firms. Evans and his wife started EVCOR out of their house and sold the business for $60 million.

John Wiley & Sons Inc., 185 pages

The Art of the Start by Guy Kawasaki |

“The Art of the Start: The Time-Tested, Battle-Hardened Guide for Anyone Starting Anything” was published in September 2004 and remains among the top-selling books on small business enterprises and entrepreneurship. Kawasaki deciphers every phase of creating a business, from the very basics of raising money and designing a business model through the many stages that will eventually lead your company to doing the right thing and giving back to society. Kawasaki, a Silicon Valley venture capitalist, tested his ideas on real start-ups as founder and CEO of Garage Technology Ventures.

Portfolio, 240 pages.