Business books about Big Companies and how they operate are next to useless for many of us. That's what I liked about this book - it's about small companies doing a variety of things and the lessons that can be drawn from them.
The selection of companies, indeed, was great. Too often business books focus on large corporations that, realistically, none of us will ever come close to running. Small companies doing their own thing, though? That is something many of us can aspire to.
"Mazzeo's law" was introduced early in the book, and I immediately liked the thinking behind it: most things don't have easy, clear-cut answers.
Mazzeo’s Law The answer to every strategic question is “It depends.” Corollary 1 The trick is knowing what it depends on. Corollary 2 If the answer to a question isn’t “It depends,” then it’s not a strategic question.At times the "chatter" about the economist authors and their own lives is a bit more than I would want - it could have been edited down a lot. Another thing that might have made the book better, although it would have been harder to accomplish, is to include a few case stories about failed businesses, and why they went under.
In any event, there are a lot of interesting lessons to be had throughout the book, and a summary wouldn't do them justice. Not all the concepts discussed are applicable to every small company, but there's a nice variety. Here is the table of contents, to give you an idea of the subjects covered:
- Chapter 1: Scaling a Business
- Chapter 2: Establishing Barriers to Entry
- Chapter 3: Product Differentiation
- Chapter 4: Setting Prices
- Chapter 5: Managing Your Brand
- Chapter 6: Negotiating Effectively
- Chapter 7: Hiring
- Chapter 8: Incentives for Employees
- Chapter 9: Delegation
- Chapter 10: Battling the Big Boys
Whatever kind of business you are in, much of the material will, if nothing else, stimulate some thoughts about how these ideas apply to it.