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Step Away from the Business Book

Do you really need a business book to tell you what to do? There are hundreds of business books on the market. People buy business books because they’re looking for a quick fix, but most people don’t read/listen to the entire book - research shows that only 43 percent finish. In addition, most people don’t follow the advice in the book, or follow it only long enough to see that it doesn’t work for them.

The bottom line is that readers don’t pick up anything valuable because most business books go against wisdom that’s been tested for centuries. Consider the following 10 business book themes and their commonsense counterparts.

1. The customer always comes first.

People always come first.

If it’s true that the customer comes first, then employees must come second, third or fourth. Customer First sends a message to employees that their only value is as a means to an end – to make customers happy. For your company to be successful, everyone must come first. You already know that.

2. You need to find an expert.

You’re the expert.

No one knows your company better than you do. You don’t need an expert – you need to fearlessly look at the facts and act on them.

3. You need to work harder, faster, longer...

You need to think harder.

Stop focusing on getting things done, organizing, or creating one ill-conceived project after another. Don’t confuse work with accomplishment. Disciplined thinking is the hardest and most productive work you will ever do.

4. You need to manipulate and strategize.

You’ll never outwit commonsense.

Forget about clever strategies, especially if they involve outwitting – the competition, customers, or the marketplace. In the end, you can’t outwit anyone but yourself.

5. The answer is always complex.

The answer is always simple.

The correct answer to business problems (or any problem for that matter) is always elegantly simple (sometimes astoundingly so). If the answer seems complicated, it’s wrong.

6. You need to beat the competition.

You need to create your own market space.

Be aware of what others in your industry are doing, but don’t make that the focus of your business. Forget about beating anyone. Instead, look for places where your market is underserved or not served at all.

7. You need to WOW customers.

You need to be consistently above average.

Consistently great core products will always outperform inconsistent WOW products.

8. You need consensus to make decisions.

You need to trust your instincts.

You’ve brought your company this far, so you must be doing something right. Seek advice from others, reason, then go with your gut decision.

need to understand your customers.

Your customers need to understand you.

You do need to understand your customers, but they also need to understand you – what you offer, how you operate, your history, your philosophy, and your commitment. It’s up to you to deliver the message.

10. Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.

The same thing will work if the environment changes.

It’s not insanity to try the same thing again if circumstances are different. For example, the first round of hybrid cars didn’t sell well because gas prices were stable, but when gas prices skyrocketed, the marketplace for hybrids was born.

If you enjoy reading, don’t stop reading business books, but stop looking for something new. There are no profound truths that you don’t already know. Read with the intent of rediscovering those core truths instead.

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