Stephen Covey’s 7th Habit – Sharpen the Saw
I joined B2BCFO® in October 2016. For most of my previous 40 years in the business world I had been an avid reader but in recent years the time commitments involved with leading the finance function of a private equity portfolio company (including three sales) had caused me to neglect my reading. My new challenges of building a professional practice and helping clients has driven me back into the world of books and I have enjoyed it immensely. In this article, I give a thumbnail review of each of the 12 books I’ve read since joining B2BCFO®. I strongly recommend all of these books. They fall into two categories, In Part 1 I discuss books aimed at helping my clients. The books I discuss in Part 2 aim at helping me to build my practice. You can find all 12 books at Amazon.com. The Mills books are available at www.b2bcfo.com.
The E-Myth Revisited by Michael E. Gerber. This book updates Gerber’s 1995 classic. The “E” in the title stands for entrepreneur and Mr. Gerber challenges business owners, especially in the early start-up phase, to consider why they do what they do. Are they trying to own an enterprise or are they trying to be self-employed? Are they working in the business or on it? By helping owners to understand their motives Gerber hopes to reduce the huge number of early stage business failures. The book gets a little “new-agey” for my taste in the last two chapters but still a fine read.
The Danger Zone by Jerry L. Mills. This is the first of three books on this list written by B2BCFO®’s founder and managing partner. Jerry writes books specifically for business owners and his understanding of the business owner’s mindset never ceases to impress. He writes in a direct, practical and approachable style with a minimum of flourish or jargon. This book covers much of the same ground as The E-Myth but aims at more established businesses facing the challenges that come with growth and that can lead to The Danger Zone, where cash flow turns dangerously negative. Jerry also introduces the “Finders, Minders and Grinders” model that informs and animates much of B2BCFO®’s client service.
Avoiding the Danger Zone by Jerry L. Mills. Jerry’s follow-up to The Danger Zone, explores the illusions that lead businesses into The Danger Zone. Jerry builds his presentation around real-life case studies that illustrate how business owners get themselves into trouble and how they sometimes can find their way out. Valuable advice with no sugar coating.
The Exit Strategy Handbook by Jerry L. Mills. This book targets business owners considering exiting their businesses through a business sale. With an estimated 12 million privately held businesses in the US owned by baby boomers, Jerry has a big audience (he calls them the Baby Boomer Tsunami™). The first half of the book teaches business owners how to think about and approach transition. The second half of the book features a series of checklists covering a dizzying array of topics that the business owner or a designated Success Team™ manager can use to prepare for the due diligence that inevitably comes with a sale. As an executive who spent the last several years buying and selling companies in the private equity world, I can honestly say that I wish I’d had this thorough and practical book. B2BCFO ® also offers software based on the handbook that a Success Team™ can use to manage a transition.
No Man’s Land by Doug Tatum. In this book Doug Tatum, co-founder of Tatum CFO explores the unique challenges facing emerging growth companies as they go through the unavoidable period where they are “too small to be big and too big to be small”. Filled with examples of businesses that have faced these challenges, sometimes successfully, sometimes not this book pulls no punches about the difficulties these businesses face but always keeps an eye on the rewards of successfully traversing this dangerous wilderness.
Perpetuating the Family Business by John L. Ward. John Ward is an academic turned consultant and writes at times like a professor. While this is not always an easy read, Ward’s discussions of the techniques that successful, multi-generational family businesses use to survive and thrive will be indispensable to professionals with family businesses as clients.
About the Author
Jeff Mann is a Fort Wayne, Indiana based Partner with B2BCFO® where he brings “big company CFO” expertise to privately held businesses and helps business owners to achieve their personal and financial goals. Jeff holds a BS in accounting from the University of Virginia and an MBA in finance and marketing from Northwestern University. You can find a B2BCFO® Partner near you on the “Our Professionals” tab at www.b2bcfo.com.