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The Knack: How Street-Smart Entrepreneurs Learn to Handle Whatever Comes Up Hardcover – October 2, 2008

4.8 out of 5 stars 85 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Brodsky and Burlingham, both Inc. magazine columnists, offer a host of advice to budding businesspeople in this thoughtful guide. Having seen businesses fail and succeed, the authors have served as mentors to a wide variety of self-starters and use their experiences as object lessons. The book focuses mainly on big-picture practicalities—the protection of startup capital and the necessity of focusing on high–profit-margin sales—but also expounds on overcoming the sales mindset in favor of the entrepreneurial mentality and facing mistakes with grace and an eye to learning. With a clear, conversational style, the authors give advice on raising capital, maintaining relationships with banks and lenders, customer relations, dealing with unexpected roadblocks and hiring good management. But in the end, they contend that entrepreneurship is not only a passion but a way to achieve a happier, richer, fuller life for ourselves and for our children and grandchildren—and with the right mental habits and skills, anyone can achieve entrepreneurial success. Encouraging, succinct and informative, this is an excellent guide for anyone looking to dive into a new business or expand an existing one. (Oct.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Brodsky and Burlingham offer an excellent handbook for entrepreneurs, stressing the thinking necessary to deal with many different situations and to identify and capture opportunities as they arise. Brodsky is an entrepreneur and mentor for numerous other entrepreneurs, and the authors use the experiences of one small business as an example of the challenges and growing pains common to all new ventures and what the owners learned along the way to their success. Excellent attention to detail is provided, including the basics of accounting, establishing a goal, determining the viability of a business, and the importance of gross profit. Each chapter, which concludes with important summary points, covers a critical step in a start-up journey including the “right stuff,“ handling inevitable mistakes; why start-ups fail; finding investors; how to lose customers; and what it takes to be the boss. This road map for success should be required reading for those planning a new venture, and will appeal to a wide range of library patrons. Excellent book. --Mary Whaley

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Portfolio Hardcover; First Edition, 1st Printing edition (October 2, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1591842212
  • ISBN-13: 978-1591842217
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (85 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #259,164 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
As I began to read this book, I was reminded of comments by then CEO Jack Welch at one of GE's annual meetings when he explained why he admired entrepreneurial companies: "For one, they communicate better. Without the din and prattle of bureaucracy, people listen as well as talk; and since there are fewer of them they generally know and understand each other. Second, small companies move faster. They know the penalties for hesitation in the marketplace. Third, in small companies, with fewer layers and less camouflage, the leaders show up very clearly on the screen. Their performance and its impact are clear to everyone. And, finally, smaller companies waste less. They spend less time in endless reviews and approvals and politics and paper drills. They have fewer people; therefore they can only do the important things. Their people are free to direct their energy and attention toward the marketplace rather than fighting bureaucracy."

Although there is a great deal of valuable material in this book for those who are planning to launch a new company or have only recently done so, what Norm Brodsky and Bo Burlingham provide can also be of substantial value to all other executives who also wish to establish and then sustain the kind of a company that Welch describes. Their choice of a first-person narrator is a wise one because it ensures an immediate and personal rapport with the reader. Presumably the voice is Brodsky's. but those who have read Burlingham's Small Giants will immediately realize that Brodsky speaks for both of them. It should also be noted that Brodsky launched seven successful start-ups and now provides a monthly column, "Street Smarts," in Inc. magazine.
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Format: Hardcover
Norm Brodsky has been a hero of mine for many years through his column in Inc. Magazine. His advice is a mixture of common sense and pragmatism -- ideas that make sense and can be used right away -- something that Brodsky and Burlingham provide in spades in their new book. The Knack isn't your typical guide to entrepreneurship. You're not going to learn about whether you should incorporate or form a LLC, or the latest marketing tactics. Rather, it's filled with stories about real entrepreneurs that illustrate several "Big Picture" concepts. In essence, this book will get (or keep) you thinking about fundamental ideas that can make your business more successful, including the value of focus, and the critical role for certain metrics. As a serial entrepreneur and teacher of entrepreneurship, I highly recommend The Knack and suggest that it's an investment that will provide a very high rate of return over the years.

Steven K. Gold
Author of Entrepreneur's Notebook: Practical Advice for Starting a New Business Venture
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Format: Hardcover
This is an excellent book for anyone thinking about starting their own business. It tells you how to think and what you need to understand in order to run a small business, from understanding cash flow to understanding and nurturing a healthy relationship with your bank to treating customers. The chapters are relatively short, and Brodsky talks alot about the companies he started, and what he learned from them. He breaks down gross margin, why the customers with the highest gross margins are the most important (and not sales), what makes a good business plan (and what makes a bad one), and what numbers are important to look at (EBITDA).

One of the best parts of the book is when he discussed whether or not to grow a company. Once people reach a certain level of success, they feel that the next natural step is to expand. Brodsky discusses what you really have to think about before you decide to expand: things such as how much money do you need to expand, why you want to grow, and how you should do it.

Another part I thought was noteworthy was the discussion on letting go of the day-to-day activities and hiring a manager. Not that I'm at that point, or will be in the future, but its an interesting take on how to view the transition.

I strongly recommend this book to anyone starting a business: it is informative and entertaining. Trust me, it doesn't drag.
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Format: Hardcover
WHO SHOULD READ THIS BOOK: Everyone thinking of buying or starting a business

I have been thinking lately about buying a business and The Knack: How Street-Smart Entrepreneurs Learn to Handle Whatever Comes Upcame highly recommended. This book is fantastic. It is packed with useful concepts and information. In addition to all of the tips and ideas it is very well written.

Each of the 17 chapters lays a crucial concept for the business owner and gives many real world examples of the principle in action. Brodsky's discussion of the importance of Gross Margin and its creation of cash flow was especially useful. He rightly illustrates that maintaining gross margin is key for a young business and that many fail because they go for higher volume with lower margins. It is not obvious until it is too late that this actually leads to negative cash flows and dooms many young businesses.

I also appreciated the many ideas about customer service. It is interesting that much of this is nothing more than treating others as you would want to be treated, but it is helpful to be reminded with examples.

In conclusion, I found this book to very insightful and it has helped me think about the issues I need to confront in starting or buying a business.

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