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No Man's Land: Where Growing Companies Fail Paperback – December 30, 2008

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Financial and tech consultant Tatum's excellent guide brings fresh insight that will help fast-growing companies navigate the fatal trap of no man's land, a perilous zone where they have outgrown the habits and practices that fueled their early growth but have not yet adopted new practices and resources to cope with their new situation and challenges. The growth that leads a company into No Man's Land will not lead a company out of it, warns the author. In the adolescent growth stage that kicks in around the 20-employee mark, companies must return to the fundamental promise they offer customers, shifting from intuitive and undisciplined leadership from the founder and low wages and grueling hours for employees to a more efficient and scalable system. Often, this transition requires a new set of leaders with experience at large companies and a different financial structure. Tatum's potent guide communicates the key ideas vividly with engaging stories and evocative writing, and will help leaders identify and survive a key phase in a company's growth. (Sept.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

“This is a really important book. Doug Tatum knows more about the subject, and has thought more deeply about it, than anyone else on the face of the earth. His book provides a ton of useful information for entrepreneurs who are in the middle of No Man’s Land, approaching it, or just wondering about it.”
—Bo Burlingham editor at large, Inc. magazine, and author, Small Giants

“This book has renewed my faith that the end-game is worth the challenging journey. I’ll re- read and reference No Man’s Land like I do Good to Great.”
—Skeeter McCorkle, president, McCorkle Nurseries --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Portfolio; Reprint edition (December 30, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1591842492
  • ISBN-13: 978-1591842491
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.7 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #420,179 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

18 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Robert Morris HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on September 14, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Curious to know the origin of the word adolescent, I checked the Online Etymology Dictionary and this is what I found: "1482, from M.Fr. adolescent, from L. adolescentem (nom. adolescens), pp. of adolescere "grow up," from ad- "to" + alescere "be nourished," hence, "increase, grow up," inchoative of alere "to nourish" (see old). The adj. is first attested in 1785." According to Doug Tatum, most (if not all) organizations resemble human beings in that they also proceed from birth through infancy to childhood; then into adolescence, an especially critical stage of their development. They require different kinds of nourishment in order to "increase, " "grow up," etc. Not all become mature. In fact, only a small percentage of them do. Consider these statistics that Michael Gerber shares in E-Myth Mastery: "Of the 1 million U.S. small businesses started this year [2005], more than 80% of them will be out of business within 5 years and 96% will have closed their doors before their 10th birthday." These are indeed chilling statistics, as are those that Tatum cites in his book.

As he explains, thousands of public and private firms each year reach a point in their development, "an inflection point at which they are transformed from small to large, from upstarts to new business categories, from intriguing ideas to America's [if not the world's] de facto research and development department." In this book, Tatum focuses this pivotal stage in a business's life cycle, "the adolescent stage in which a rapidly growing firm is too big to be small, but too small to be big." This is the "no man's land" to which the title refers, a transitional stage in the life of a business that is "treacherous geographical terrain.
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Format: Hardcover
In this book "no man's land" is that volatile time a small business experiences during rapid growth. Basically, there are three things that can happen. The small business retreats from the kind of growth that would transform the business and remains a successful small business. This is the kind of choice made by the businesses described by Bo Burlingham as "Small Giants". The business might lose its way and end up failing because of the pressures, changes, and decisions demanded by rapid growth. The third possibility is to make the kinds of transformations necessary to become a large company. Nearly every big company went through this phase one time in their career (the exceptions being big companies that were created by combining already larger companies).

Doug Tatum has put together a terrific book to help the entrepreneur who wants to navigate through rapid growth without being torn apart in the rapids or smashed against the rocks. The book has eight chapters that are each interesting reading to any entrepreneur who wants to learn about this phase of their corporate career. The first chapter describes the problem of being "to big to be small, to small to be big".

The second chapter talks about the way pressures of growth can cause the company to become misaligned from its market. These have a variety of sources and each is dangerous to fatal. These can have a physical basis, a forgetting of what the core value is while racing to grow and grab market share, and forgetting who your customers are.

Chapters 3, 4, and 5 talk about the dangers of outgrowing your management, your model, and your money. These three topics are central to successfully making the transition.
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Format: Hardcover
I liked this book. Apparently it is written for small business owners that are able to start their businesses without the benefit of a sound 25-35 page written business plan. As a result of their luck or hard work those owners are able to manage their businesses by the seat of their pants. But when those businesses eventually take off on a growth spurt the owners are unable to continue to manage their company by the seat of their pants. This phase in the company history the author calls No Man's Land.

The book has the following 8 chapters:

1. Too big to be small, too small to be big
2. Market misalignment
3. Outgrowing your management
4. Outgrowing your model
5. Outgrowing your money
6. The 5th M (momentum)
7. Beyond growth
8. A national treasure

The second through fifth chapters cover what the author calls the "4 Ms." To me they were the heart of the book. Basically they are common sense issues with regard to managing a business. A company to be profitable must be aligned with the market it serves. A company to stay profitable must be lead by competent management. And as times change, a company's business model typically has to change. And finally at some point the issue of money becomes relevant; it takes money to make money.

I thought the discussions for each "M" were well done. The book flowed for me. However, I would have liked it better if the book had has a chapter on the importance of business plans. I would have liked the book better if the book had had a chapter on how to use business plans and keep them current so a company never needs to experience No Man's Land. And I would have liked the book better if it had included a chapter on strategic planning.
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