Customer Reviews: Be the Elephant: Build a Bigger, Better Business
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VINE VOICEon August 30, 2008
After reading the other reviews, I must wholeheartedly disagree with the consensus. I own a small business and this book is just so elementary and without substance, that I could never recommend it to anyone that is already running a decent sized small business. Kaplan's use of examples is extremely limited and hardly worth the effort. While I'm sure that Kaplan is a very good businessman and knows his stuff, his ability to focus anyone into a thought provoking analysis is woefully inept.

I think that the book goes wrong in trying to be everything to all business owners. This is clearly a book for the beginner that has absolutely zero business experience. It would be a nice introduction to what can go wrong for an individual that is "thinking" of going into business for themselves. He mentions that you need to learn how to read the "numbers" of your business, but then there is absolutely zero explanation of what they mean. One could never look at a balance sheet and determine the next step for that business. Kaplan is all at the 50,000 foot level with no breakdown into any detail whatsoever.

However, this is not what the jacket or back cover portray. They give the impression that the statement (whether) "you run a $5 million consulting business or a three person bakery" then this book will help you. It will not. If you are running a $5 million business, you are so far past what this book has to offer that it is a waste of your time. I would not be so negative if the target market for the book would not have been portrayed as just about everyone with a small business.

If you are just beginning to look at maybe running a business or if you are contemplating joining someone in their business, then this book might give you something to think about on the negative side. However, if you are looking for help on next steps or trying to understand what to do help your current business, this will not help you in the least. You will not become the "elephant" by reading this book.
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on March 25, 2007
f I were in a bookstore, I never would have bought this book. It's coated thick with superlatives and overpromises of success like:

A foolproof road map to success. Don't grow your business without it.

Nothing is a foolproof road map to success. That statement would have made me distrust the book from the outset.

As it was, I ordered the book from Amazon which meant I read the Amazon recommendations before the cover of the book. As you can see, I gave this a 4 star rating - so I obviously enjoyed it.

My 4 stars came from three qualities of this book.

1. It's concise - business books love to over-explain or try to micromanage their readers. Be the Elephant is less than 220 pages.

2. It provides tools - There are more than a few very helpful, simple tools for business analysis that I began using before finishing the book.

3. Website - the book is backed up by a website that has templates for the tools.

All in all, the book is built to quickly give people necessary tools to avoid failure. The tools don't guarantee success, but they go a long way to helping you avoid failure while also avoiding analysis paralysis.

So, even though I apparently don't recommend the cover quotes, the book is an excellent toolkit for small business owners.
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on February 17, 2007
With this book I WILL "Be The Elephant". As a small business owner, rarely have I read two books this descriptive and easy to read as Kaplan's 1st book, Bag the Elephant" and this follow up "Be the Elephant". This is a GREAT follow up but can certainly stand on its own. Wish there could be more. I feel I am attending a special instructional seminar on reaching success just for me. Keep them coming.
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on March 12, 2007
"Be the Elephant" was even more enjoyable and more impactful than Mr.Kaplan's first book, "Bag the Elephant".

Being a marketer of promotional/advertising programming, within the CPG industry, I found Mr. Kaplan's writings to be right on target! I have utilized a few of his marketing ideas and sales tools, which have assisted me greatly in closing some huge deals within the CPG industry.

I would highly recommend this book to anyone who desires to learn effective sales techniques, in order to land and keep BIG clients! I can't wait for Mr. Kaplans next Elephant book to be published, as his books have given me the knowledge, tools and confidence to improve my chances of landing and keeping major accounts within the CPG industry.
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on July 15, 2007
It is a business book for many of us out there. For those looking for the type of book to get you through rough times this is it . It shows ,with many examples how easy it is to be working "on your business,instead of in your business"
Buy it today and find answers to many of your questions with built in soutions already to go.
I highly recommend it.
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on February 17, 2009
It seems that you can't swing your library card around a business bookshelf these days without hitting a tome that has "Elephant" in the title. Whether the book claims how to teach elephants to dance; how to bag the elephant; how to sell different color elephants or use fables such as the elephant and the ant - they all view elephants as an enduring business metaphor. Sometimes they work but often they don't. Steve Kaplan's latest addition to the pachyderm parade of titles Be the Elephant - DOES work. The author takes a refreshingly counterintuitive approach to the idea of "growth at all costs" and turns it on its tusks. The premise is that any business leader should grow their organization as large or small as they would like, but to survive you need to be the biggest elephant within your competitive sphere. Soundview recommends this book because it presents a new perspective on the concept of growth while balancing the extremes of growing both too quickly or slowly. Since elephants never forget, be sure to remember to read this book.
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VINE VOICEon June 11, 2010
This is an absolutely enlightening and useful book. Steve Kaplan does a great job of breaking down the components and pitfalls of growth, provides insight into how to approach them using relevant tools, case studies and anecdotes.

He starts where most of us need to - the beginning - with an assessment of your current business. He provides a diagnostic tool as well as some basic analytic tools to help assess whether the company is actually READY to grow. If not, he encourages the reader to build that firm foundation first.

He then moves through the role of sales, mrketing, channel and profit analysis, risk assessment, vaule building tips and common mistakes. The whole approach is done in a writing style that any businessperson will understand and enjoy.

This book should be on your bookshelf.
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Steve Kaplan communicates his vast business-development experience in focused, easily understandable prose. His writing is punchy and filled with illustrative vignettes to illustrate his points in an easy, entertaining way. While you must have frontline experience to build your organization, the basics Kaplan provides are a sound, necessary complement. He explains these core principles compactly and keeps the technical aspects fairly light. This sales and business growth manual is not directed to the sophisticated strategist, but to the bullet-point level entrepreneur who wants the how-to-expand formula without a lot of if-this-then-that discussion. getAbstract can report from experience that informative reading on nurturing your business that is also this entertaining and accessible is hard to find.
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on February 23, 2007
In following Steve's easy to follow steps in his First book to" Bag the elephant, we bagged our first elephant, and have now in the last year and a half bagged 4 more.

In the "Be the Elephant" book I was glad to find out that we have been doing many of the things that Steve recommends to build a bigger ,better business. One of our mottos here at my company is that we need to Grow or we will die. We have increased our Sales 6 fold and our Net Profit 11 fold in the last 7 years. Along the way we have increased our infrastructure to support the growth with qualified employees from outside the company, but with the first choice being and employee to promote from within.

We have increased our revenues by Vertically selling more of our items within our existing accounts,ie: Packaging items to the accounts who were only buying Corrugated and Vice Versa, thereby being a One stop shop for the customers shipping supplies. We have grown horizontally into other geographic areas in the US with our new "Elephant "Customers which has been the best of both worlds for us.

Due to the new geographic area scenarios, we are evaluating if it is a good business decision to open up a Distribution Center in a new Geographic area by using Steve's Risk vs. Reward factor.

I have also implemented "Start it and Chart it" with great success.

I have monthly Manager Meetings where I now use Steve's chart, where we review progress reports and timelines that are attached. I find that now that people are accountable, and on the hook to perform, there is peer pressure on them to fulfill the task.

I am still working on creating a USP for my company.

My company formed Strategic Alliances 4 years ago with our major Vendors .It was put forth from the beginning of the growth process to these Vendors that the ones who partner with me in the beginning, will be the ones that I will be loyal to in return as we grow. My largest Vendors have grown from thousand of dollars a year back in 2003, to millions of dollars a year in 2007.

I feel we have been successful by building the organization with good people and developing there skills to best suit the job at hand. We have maintained steady growth and profitability by keeping" Service" at the forefront of our business model. We will get the Customer their product, when they want it. Also, making sure that as we get bigger our current customers will not see any decrease in service.
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on June 16, 2008
This is another book, which inspired the title for my book "Elephants Can't Change but Leopards Can!!!" I love this book and it's pundits.
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