An entrepreneur and efficiency expert discusses the importance of team-building, testing, time management, and more in this debut business startup guide.
For Crawford, a big trap that entrepreneurs fall into is doing everything themselves, bogging them down in tasks that could more effectively and efficiently be done by others. In this guide, he urges a focus on assembling a “small-business C-suite” of “five experts even the smallest of businesses can’t live without”—chief operating officer, chief legal officer, chief financial officer, chief human resources officer, and chief marketing officer—to free CEOs for the “laser focus” required to successfully launch and grow the products or services that they’re passionate about. He showcases the return on investment of this strategy by drawing on his own experiences launching shipping and legal businesses as well as other examples, including a detailed “Sue’s Bagels” startup scenario. He discusses how the use of technology (to automate and outsource business tasks, among other chores) gives small-business owners a level playing field and even an edge on their bigger competitors. He then segues into planning, recommending using the one-sheet Business Canvas Model, “as developed by theorist and author Alexander Osterwalder, with the help of 470 cocreators,” to determine value proposition, customer segments, and more. He emphasizes testing assumptions, with Sue’s Bagels, for example, transforming itself into an office-delivery service following the discovery that customers most valued convenience. Crawford covers issues requiring formal business documents (capital funding, incorporation, etc.) and concludes with his vision of time management, a lively Lego-type approach of prioritizing and grouping the “pieces” of one’s day. The author, an engaging and persuasive efficiency evangelist, offers excellent time- and money-saving tips to budding entrepreneurs. While he now has his own efficiency consulting business, and refers to it several times in this narrative, he is not overly self-promotional. Instead, he convincingly details the hidden costs, including work and life imbalances, that come from failing to leverage experts at the outset. While he touches on some topics (such as funding) too briefly at times, he always writes clearly and provides many helpful recaps along the way. Overall, this is an extremely valuable startup primer.
Illuminating—and liberating—advice for small-business owners.