Gotcha! Since starting this blog I’ve noticed that there are a large number of my colleagues in the blogosphere who are following the received wisdom that to attract attention you have to offer a list of rules, tips, hints or habits that you must follow to succeed in business. You’ve read ‘em, haven’t you? The five easy steps that will make you a million in your first year. The seven top habits of really successful business people. The nine most effective ways to make your team excel. Unfortunately what usually follows are the facile homilies. And when you wander into the airport bookstall, there they are again, row after row of the latest publications offering hot tips from some of the most well known business people on earth offering you success in 5 minutes. Seductive, aren’t they? Painting by numbers for instant success.
Now I’m not saying that these various publications have no merit. A great many are from good business people who have made many more millions than yours truly. However, I’m going to let you into a secret, one that none of these authors are going to tell you and it’s one that certainly won’t sell a load of glossy paperbacks. It’s one that a lifetime in business has taught me. It’s bloody hard work becoming a success and it’s even harder staying one!
Beware the airport bookstall – there is rarely a one minute answer to anything. Business requires a whole range of competences and knowledge most of which can be learnt but all must be practiced. I would like to share with you two books that have taught me a great deal more than any other. The first is ‘Marketing Management’ by Philip Kotler and Kevin Keller. Now in its 14th edition this is a veritable encyclopaedia of the marketing art covering everything you need to know in great detail. Yes, it’s expensive but it’s the best money you’ll ever spend. The other book is Michael Porter’s 1980 seminal work ‘Competitive Strategy’. If you wish to understand how to analyse markets and competition and know why some are more profitable than others, this is the book. Neither of these books could ever be described as a quick read or offering quick tips; they are packed with what you need to really understand of the art of marketing and strategy but you will have to work at them and apply what you learn.
Never stop learning; you will never know it all but each day you can add a little more. Management is not a science and there is no formula that will guarantee success. However, there is so much professional knowledge you can, and should, acquire. Management technique alone will never give you the answer but it is capable of putting all of the information you need in a format that allows you to make the best decision you can. And that’s what being professional is all about, isn’t it?
So, are there 397 habits, tips or techniques you should learn? Maybe more, maybe less; but who’s counting? If you don’t enjoy learning and you have to ask the question, don’t give up the day job. Yes, business is hard work with no easy answers but, boy, is it fun.
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