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The Green Sheet Online Edition

December 10, 2012 • Issue 12:12:01

Book Review
How and when to apply the facts of business life

We're all familiar with the facts of life. But what about the facts of business life? Bill McBean, author of The Facts of Business Life: What Every Successful Business Owner Knows That You Don't, makes a convincing case that facts of business life do indeed exist, and business owners ignore them at their own peril.

In the book, McBean sets forth seven facts of business he has identified in a career that has spanned more than four decades. He also fleshes out five stages in the business life cycle and offers instructions on how and when to use the facts at each stage of the life cycle.

The facts

Here are McBean's seven facts of business life, each followed by a quote from the author:

  1. If you don't lead, no one will follow: "[I]n order to have effective employees, your business first has to have effective leadership, which has to include defining success and failure based on the culture that's expectations-based, and rewards those who meet and exceed those expectations."

  2. If you don't control it, you don't own it: "[G]reat procedures and processes need controls, and these in turn create great employees. This happens because procedures and processes operate the business, and employees operate the processes."

  3. Protecting your company's assets should be your first priority: "The key is to understand what all of your company's assets are, and then guard them closely and work to maximize the profits they represent."

  4. Planning is about preparing for the future, not predicting it: "Being able to plan better than your competitors can give you a significant competitive edge in the market."

  5. If you don't market your business, you won't have one: "If marketing isn't done, very little good will happen. You have to make the necessary effort to connect consumers to your company."

  6. The marketplace is a war zone: "[I]n order to be successful and remain that way, you have to continually focus on the market, react to it, and fight for what you believe should be yours."

  7. You don't just have to know the business you're in; you have to know business: "Having tunnel or limited vision as far as business knowledge is concerned is akin to dropping out of high school. ... [W]hat is most important is not how much you know, but what you know and what you do with that knowledge."

The business life cycle

Learning to apply these facts is what the book's nine chapters address in detail. And using them in different ways to suit the five stages of the business life cycle is a contribution McBean claims as uniquely his own. The life cycle consists of five levels: 1. Ownership and opportunity; 2. Creating your company's DNA; 3. From survival to success; 4. Maintaining success; and 5. Moving on when it's time to go.

McBean's experience includes leadership positions at General Motors Corp., commercial lending portfolio management, and automobile dealership ownership, including turning several underperforming auto dealerships into an enterprise with yearly sales of more than $160 million. He is now General Partner of McBean Management, an investment company, as well as Executive Director and Chairman of the Board at Our-Mentors and Net Claims Now. end of article

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