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What I Found When Looking for “Simple Business Advice”

What I Found When Looking for “Simple Business Advice”

As a freelance writer who specializes in health and wellness, personal development, and self-defense related content, I spend a majority of my day online searching for the latest research and most current information in these life improvement fields. The more up- to-date I can stay on my topics of expertise, the better I can help my clients grow their online presence, growing their businesses as a result.

However, sometimes I am the one who wants to make my own business bigger, stronger, and more resilient (what entrepreneur doesn’t?). Thus, I also spend a lot of time on the web looking for ways to accomplish this goal. I check out different ways to market (preferably that don’t cost a fortune), how to improve my website’s SEO according to the things the internet algorithms like at the time, and  everything else that comes with taking my writing business to the next level.

So, What’s the Problem?

That’s when I quickly learned that there is a ton of content out there on business success and how to achieve it. And when I say a ton, I’m talking about 164 million Google search results for the three word phrase that most entrepreneurs have searched at one time or another: “simple business advice.”

There are so many articles, books, and guides available online that there’s no way I can go through them all and still have the time to run by freelance business, let alone write for my clients. If I went through even 10 percent of them, it’d still take me years, if not decades.

There’s also the issue that some of the content isn’t really good advice. Sure, it may be offered by someone who believes it or someone who is offering it in a well-meaning sort of way, but following their recommendations could ultimately take you and your business down the wrong path, doing more potential damage than good. I don’t want that and I’m sure you don’t either.

Does this mean that finding simple business advice is hopeless for small business entrepreneurs like us? Entrepreneurs who want to go to the next level, but have some questions they want answered before making a leap? Entrepreneurs who know the value in their products or services, yet they don’t have a mentor or sounding board to run ideas past before implementing them, which could possibly lead to making some major mistakes?

When Destiny Meets Business

If you’ve read any of my other Businessing Magazine articles before, then you already know that I’m a strong believer in things coming to a person at just the right time, both personally and in business. Not that hard work and grueling effort aren’t required to advance in life, because they are. But there are some times when things fall in your lap right when you were looking for them or needed them most. Thus came my own run-in with Simple Business Advice.

In this case, what I’m referring to is the book, Simple Business Advice: Focused Recommendations that Will Make You a Better Business Owner. It’s written by someone I have great respect for, Matthew Smith, CEO of Modmacro, a company I’ve had the privilege of working for and with for the last three years.

I’d been doing a lot of thinking about what steps I should be taking as a small business owner but am not, as well as what steps I’m taking but shouldn’t if I want to move my freelance writing business up a notch. I’d been looking up all the different ways to promote my services so I could spend more time working on projects I love versus projects that just pay the bills (sound familiar?).

It was right in the middle of this struggle between learning what to do and what not to do that Matt reached out to me and asked if I’d take a look at his new book. Well, first he asked me if I had any experiences I wanted to share that could potentially help other small business owners who, like me, were in search of some wisdom as to how to grow a business.

I thought this was pretty cool because it meant that not only would the book’s readers get Matt’s take on a particular subject, but they’d get mine and other contributors as well. This really set this book apart from others I’d researched and ultimately decided not to buy. Plus, it made me all the more excited about reading it myself because it was exactly what I had been looking for.

Simple Business Advice That’s, Well, Simple

The very first sentence of the very first paragraph of the very first chapter in Simple Business Advice talked about the importance of “knowing your numbers,” a point that is repeatedly driven home on the ever-popular show Shark Tank.

If you’ve never seen it, it’s a business-based television series that a number of entrepreneurs watch not only to see what types of new and innovative products and services are fighting their way into existence, but also because the sharks give away some great business tips when talking to the people who are looking for investors for their inventions.

Now, I’ve seen Shark Tank hundreds of times and I’ve heard them ridicule idea creators and business owners for not knowing exactly how much they make, how much they spend, where they spend it, and how much they’re really worth. It seems to happen at least once per episode. Yet, here I was not sure of my own numbers. I had somehow convinced myself that this basic rule of business didn’t apply to me since I wasn’t selling products and worked out of my own home with very little overhead. I couldn’t excuse this lack of knowledge any more.

In fact, after reading this chapter, I sat and came up with all of my numbers—from how many regular customers I have to how much I earn from each one to which of my services net the most profit—and, for the first time ever, I had a crystal clear image of where I actually stand with my business today. This was a huge eye opener for me, as I have suddenly realized that I make less profit on a few of my regular customers than I do on some of my not-so-regular ones.

Of course, this doesn’t make my regular clients any less important, but at least I now know exactly where each of my clients is in regard to contributing to my overall income. This makes it possible to make more intelligent decisions regarding prioritizing my work. In other words, no more making decisions based on what I think. Now I can make them on what I know.

I had several “a-ha” moments like this as I read through Simple Business Advice and, each time, the advice truly was simple (oftentimes even something I heard before or knew already), yet for some reason this time it stuck. This time I had enough experience under my belt to know that Matt and the other book contributors were right on a number of topics, even the ones I’ve tried for so long to ignore.

Additional Reviews of Simple Business Advice

Now, I’m more than aware that, just because I find value in something, it doesn’t mean that others will too. That’s why I reached out to fellow small business owners and asked them what they thought about Simple Business Advice. After reading it themselves, here’s what they had to say:

Brian C. McHugh, owner of McHugh Construction, says, “The way the book was structured made it clear, concise and engaging. The author, through his own admission, follows no linear story format so, instead of building on each previous chapter, you are presented with new information of different topics. The ideas he presents are nothing new, but his first-hand experience and subsequent real-life examples give you perspective of how they might apply to your own business.”

“This is a great read, and maybe even future reference material, for someone who has either not yet owned a business or has not been able to successfully maintain a business,” adds McHugh. “The way the author wrote this, to me, is to serve as a reminder to any business owner that you have so many touch points on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis, you can ill-afford to neglect any of those if you wish to not only remain successful, but continue thriving and growing your company.”

“The scope of the topics presented are actually very wide, from how you command profits to self-analysis and making yourself a better owner and boss,” says McHugh. “I believe the advice presented regarding how much attention must be paid to your business’ financial health, goals, and structure was particularly well done and of the utmost importance to any business owner, especially those without accounting and financial backgrounds.”

Joe Palumbo, president of Ice Dam Guys LLC, read Simple Business Advice too and he says, “A few books have clear and practical business advice, but real-world business owners will never know because the authors can’t get down to business. Matthew Smith gets down to business.”

“In Simple Business Advice, each chapter ends just as soon as you’ve had your “Aha – now I know what to do” moment,” says Palumbo. (Glad to hear I wasn’t the only one!) “It’s easily skimmable and won’t tax your patience.”

“Two of my favorite chapters were ‘Don’t Confuse Motion for Progress’ and ’Ruthlessly Defend Your Time’,” adds Palumbo. “I’ve been a business owner for 23 years and counting and wish Simple Business Advice was around back then. But it’s here for you now and can help you whether you’re just starting a business or looking to make your existing business more profitable.”

Last, but certainly not least is Mark Quinn, co-founder of Herobed who says, “Simple Business Advice is just that, a very simple approach to running a company. For the experienced business person, this book is a great reminder of what to remain focused on, and for the person just starting out, Matthew tackles issues that can become massive problems or incredible opportunities depending on how you treat them.”

“This book takes you from the beginnings of business like invoicing, goal setting, and the need to understand your numbers,” says Quinn (there’s those numbers again!), “but quickly transitions into other topics like the need for good SEO and the importance of doing good legal work when necessary.”

“One of the primary messages however, is on the impact of the intangibles which do make or break a business,” says Quinn. “The focus on work-life balance, protecting your time, and mentoring your team are ideas that should be reinforced by anyone running a company. Vince Lombardi said to be ‘brilliant on the basics’ and this book can help you stay focused.”

No matter where you are on your business journey, there is some definite value in Simple Business Advice…both the book and the concept.

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by Christina DeBusk // Freelance writer, author, and small business consultant committed to helping entrepreneurs achieve higher levels of success.

Opinions expressed by contributors are their own.