Big business experience doesn’t necessarily mean small business success

Big business experience doesn’t necessarily mean small business success

A writer who has been instrumental in shaping the minds, and businesses, of perhaps millions of small to medium business owners is visiting Australia next month.

Verne Harnish will be speaking in Sydney and Melbourne in early March. If you have read his book The Rockefeller Habits you’ll have an understanding of his relevance to small business owners. If you’ve applied his book to your business, you’ll already have bought a ticket or two, and probably be flying business class to the city and taking a limo to the event.

I came across the book several years ago, skim read it, and didn’t apply it to my own medium-sized business. I was, however, lucky enough to have a chairman who had built a $1 billion public company from nothing, so I had wisdom, guidance and support on my journey. I now chair advisory boards and have a genuine purpose in helping SME business owners grow their businesses. 

One of the tools we use is The Rockefeller Habits, and one of the things that comes across in the book is how prolific, small and normal our businesses are. Extrapolating the data from the 320 million people-strong US economy talked about in the book to our 21 million people-strong Australian economy suggests 97% of the almost two million Australian businesses turn over less than $1 million a year, and that there are only 1400 companies in Australia that have an annual revenue greater than $50 million. Small is normal.

Like most business owners and entrepreneurs, whether genuinely new to business ownership or having arrived with training wheels on from the business crèche that is corporate life, I had only a vague view of the detailed model of business. I knew all the large scale strategic things I had learned from management and business courses over the years, but did not have a true understanding of the small number of elements that are key to a business surviving and then growing. And of all the things that Verne’s book does, it’s that. It gives the reader, preferably “readers” reading it together, a true understanding of the few key things that matter in business.

Now I know there may be a few mildly bemused readers who work in, or have worked in, large corporations that believe they know this stuff. But let me say, you as a group are the most likely to lose your house when you first go into your own business, by choice or necessity, in your 40s. I almost did. I knew the theory of business, and had spent corporate money to turn around or grow businesses in many countries. But when you have a very finite amount of money – your own – turning around and growing becomes rather more demanding. Of your time, energy, focus and intellect. You have to truly understand business as a “model”, and be able to see the limited number of important levers you can pull to succeed.

The Rockefeller Habits does that for you. Verne’s new book Scaling Up has just been released. I haven’t read it yet. I will do. I’ll also be there to hear him speak. I’ve still got stuff to learn, so I’ll arrive in a cab.

Kevin A Moore is a retail expert and the chairman of Crossmark Asia Pacific Holdings and Mirador Retail Technology. He is also the founder of TheRoadToRetail.

 

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