Recommended Reading: The Knack


For several years now I’ve made it a habit to read business periodicals as well as business books. As a business owner I feel it’s imperative to learn from those with more experience than myself, and I have to say I enjoy it more then I would have ever imagined. I keep up to date with Inc. Magazine and read between 4 and 10 business books a year. Some are good, some not so good, but I always seem to walk away with something of value.

It’s been quite some time since I was really excited about a business book, but I just finished reading one that I thought I would share. The book is called “The Knack:How Street-Smart Entrepreneurs Learn to Handle Whatever Comes Up“, and is written by Norm Brodsky, Bo Burlingham, both writers at Inc. Magazine.


The book is written in an interesting way. Throughout the book, between different topics/chapters, questions from business owners are read and answered by Norm. By writing the book in this way a diverse number of topics and questions are covered that are not necessarily covered in the book otherwise.

Topics covered include how to decide if a new business is worth pursuing, how to raise capital to start a business, non-traditional ways to compensate your sales people, ways to detect unhappy customers and make sure you don’t lose them, the decision to grow or not to grow your business and when to ask for help from other business professionals.

One of my favorite parts of the book is when Norm discusses business plans, and says that before you put any effort into a business plan you need to first come up with a life plan. Ask yourself what you want out of your life in the next 5 or 10 years, and be very detailed. Maybe it’s more money, more time for vacation, the ability to travel with your family, or maybe it’s to reach a certain milestone in your company. The point is, you can’t decide what you want out of your business until you know what you want out of life. By planning one without looking at the other you run the risk of moving further and further away from the things that actually make you happy in life. I found this especially powerful and I reflected on it for several days.

While nothing in this book is specific to the media industry, like many business books the lessons learned can easily be applied to any business. And even if you’re not a typical “business owner”, you are still in business for yourself in one way or another. Even if you have a staff position, you are still the President of your own personal company. You still need to market yourself, continue to grow and improve yourself, and at some point move onto another staff position and sell yourself again.

If you are a freelance editor, this is even more true. You don’t need to have your own facility and staff to learn and apply valuable lessons from a book like this. As a freelancer you really are out there selling yourself and your skill set everyday. Books like this one can give you an edge over your competitors.

If you’re like me and have a hard time keeping up with reading, this book is also available as an audio download from Audible.com. If it wasn’t for my iPod and Audible, I would not be able to consume as many books as I do now.

I hope you enjoy this book as much as I did, and look forward to your comments and emails.

 


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