15 Bedtime Stories That Keep Entrepreneurs Awake at NightDavid Ingram.
Just as there will never be a perfect time to have kids, there will never be a perfect time to became an entrepreneur. If you think waiting will provide you with better starting conditions for following such a dream, you’ll be waiting for the rest of your working days. (2)
In the book, 15 Bedtime Stories That Keep Entrepreneurs Awake at Night, David Ingram tells each story from a personal experience prospective, setting up a practical situation which will be encounter by a small business person. This storytelling and resolution method is close to a case study format, and the author ends each chapter with a short,”The Moral of the Story,” and a few questions “For Reflection and Action,” to assist in applying the lesson presented in the chapter.
Advice is the makeup of this book, and sound advice it is. Organized around 15 key points for the new proprietor, the book starts with the hardest gulp facing any entrepreneur: Don’t Run Out of Cash. Major pitfalls in managing capital are underestimates of initial cash needs, especially relating to bills which are always coming in, while money arrives in a trickle. Relationships with clients is brought up several times in the book, particularly the problem of getting them to pay. A situation, which Ingram describes as: You can be Profitable – and Broke.
Without the cash flow chart, you can find yourself thinking you’re highly profitable – with P&Ls to prove it – only to wake up broke. (11)
Advise in the 15 chapters include a lot of good “don’t.” The following excerpts are taking from the topic of each business challenge, with a little kernel mostly gleaned from the moral of the story:
Don’t Ignore Trusted Advisors [you need people who won’t just say what you want to hear];
Don’t Lock Your Doors [anticipate inevitable turnover];
Don’t Isolate Yourself [you need a support system];
Don’t Compromise Your Ethics [dynamics of a successful company derive from strong values and high levels of ethical conduct];
Don’t Avoid Confrontation [win or lose, you have to face them (problems) head-on, at high noon!];
Don’t Let Your Company Depend on Just you [you must build systems that allow the company to succeed without depending on a particular individual];
Don’t Cut Corners [execute the fundamentals with excellence];
Don’t Try to do Everything [you can’t be an expert on everything];
Don’t Rely on One Customer [the start-up CEO needs to know that the real danger isn’t him or her killing the hen that lays golden eggs-but having her turn on you!];
Don’t be a Scrooge [generosity often adds more that its subtracts];
Don’t Hire and Fire Haphazardly [institute excellent processes for hiring and firing based on clearly established performance expectations];
Don’t Ignore Worst-Case Scenarios [don’t live in fear and worry, but be prepared for ‘disasters.’];
Don’t Mess Around With Rotten Attitudes [attitudes, over time, will outperform ability]; and the last piece of advise,
Don’t Tolerate Sloppy and Off-Color Communication [you can spend your whole life building an outstanding personal and professional reputation, only to have it torpedoed by some inappropriate remark].
Ingram, like me, is fond of perceptive quotes and many excellent and appropriate citations are dispersed throughout the book. Several real gems include ones by Paul “Bear” Bryant and Warrant Buffet:
It’s not the will to win, but the will to prepare to win that makes the difference (Bryant, and also most applicably, the first quote in the book)
It takes twenty years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently (Buffett).
Having problems in your business? Ingram advises:
Sometimes as a start-up CEO, it almost seems you can hear bullets whizzing past your head and feel like you’re in a gunfight by yourself-at least four against one. But like Kane (r:High Noon) you have to know that running from problems never makes them go away. Win or lose, you have to face them head-on, at high noon!”
A few of the praise comments in the front of the book includes descriptive statements on the relevance of the topic to start-up business: – filled with brutal honesty; – humanity; – bottom line takeaway; – living proof; – fantastic read; – real challenges; – relate; – terrific sense; – applied; and, – on-target. These review comments highlight the usefulness this book will be to “entrepreneurs, potential entrepreneurs, and entrepreneurship students.”
From reading the book, you may get the idea that all these lessons and hard times ended in positive territory; but life teaching us that not every scenario has a happy ending. This is a real strength of the book, dealing with situation encountered by the entrepreneur, and facing up to the issue squarely and wisely. If the an incident does not turn out to be successful, the reader will have grown from the experience and be prepared to handle the problem when it rises again.
15 Bedtime Stories That Keep Entrepreneurs Awake at Night
HigherLife Development Services, Inc.; Orlando, Fl
142 pages, 2009