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Adding Customer Value By Taking Something Away

In recent years, I haven’t done much blogging but I’m intending to get back into the habit of writing two or three articles a week, as well as continually to be a prolific business book reviewer on Amazon.co.uk.

I’ll be blogging in two places, here on my Business Development Advice website and also on my business strategy blog, Differentiate Your Business.

Last week I wrote an article on DYB that looked at adding customer value by taking away something taken for granted.

It was inspired by newspaper articles on the topic of naked house cleaning. Yes customers were paying £45 an hour to have (not surprisingly) a young woman clean their houses in the nude. And not surprisingly, most of the customers were men!. [click to continue…]


I have identified a tightly defined business library that’s suitable for entrepreneurs and business owners.

The list will keep developing as I find new books I don’t think a business owner should be without but I don’t want the list to exceed twelve books so I’m going to get to the stage where putting a new book in means taking an old favourite out. If you need helping applying the ideas, it may be time for a complimentary Business SOS.

I’ve read and reviewed hundreds of business books and you can discover the full list at Business Book Reviews including the ratings up to 5 Stars.

The Twelve Best Business Books For Business Owners & Entrepreneurs

These are the twelve books I currently recommend most strongly. Below the list, I explain why the books are included. The links take you to reviews on this website and not to Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.

  1. The E-Myth Revisited by Michael Gerber – *****
  2. Getting Everything You Can Out Of All You’ve Got by Jay Abraham – *****
  3. The Genghis Khan Guide to Business by Brian Charles John Warnes – *****
  4. The Ultimate Sales Machine by Chet Holmes – *****
  5. Duct Tape Marketing by John Jantsch – *****
  6. The Brain Audit By Sean D’Souza – *****
  7. Blue Ocean Strategy by W Chan Kim and Renee A Mauborgne – *****
  8. The One Minute Manager by Ken Blanchard & Spencer Johnson – *****
  9. Profits Aren’t Everything They’re the Only Thing by George Cloutier – *****
  10. Forget the Urgent!: Rather Focus On The Important by Matias Birrell and Javier Arevalo – *****
  11. TBA – a book about what I call the “inner game” of the business owner, my provisional choice is Think And Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill.
  12. TBA – a book about clearer thinking and better decision making. My provisional choice is Thinking Smarter by Michael Kallett.

You can get these from Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk

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This is a book about the Theory of Constraints developed by Eliyahu Goldratt and popularised in his first book The Goal. Like that great book, this is a novel although it’s really like listening in to a series of coaching calls between a manager and his coach.

***** Five Stars

Who Should Read This Book?

  • Anyone interested in the Theory of Constraints.
  • Small business owners who want to improve.

The Big Idea

Every business faces constraints unless it is able to generate an infinite amount of money.

The constraint may be:

  • In the business. The classic example is a bottleneck machine in a factory that can’t process everything needed.
  • Outside the business but in the market. In this situation, the constraint to making more money and building a more sustainable business lies in the marketplace.
  • It can also be the business owner.

Review Of Forget the Urgent! Rather Focus On The Important

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If your business is stuck and your performance has stalled in terms of sales and profit, or worse if things have turned down, you need to take action.

The first thing to ask is…

Do You Know Why Your Business Is Stuck?

In detail? Meaning you have identified specific causes?

Or have you made an assumption based on gut instinct. If so, beware. These attributions are often wrong.

Do You Know What To Do And How To Do It?

For change to happen, you need three things:

  • To know what to do.
  • To know how to do it.
  • To have the commitment to take the necessary actions.

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Right from the start of my career, I’ve been fascinated by the idea of helping turn around businesses in trouble. When I was being interviewed as a trainee accountant in 1981, I expressed interest in the firms’ business recovery departments.

My career as an employee had its share of highs and lows. I was seconded to a start-up company in a group and had the true “cradle-to-grave” experience as I eventually closed it and sold off the assets. I was also the Finance Director of a business that found itself caught in a savage price war and I’ve never seen profit drain away from a business so quickly.

When I had to write a dissertation for my MBA, it seemed obvious to choose a topic that looked at how small businesses in financial difficulty might be rescued before collapse. It involved extensive research into the causes of failure and how businesses can achieve turnaround and I really threw myself into it. So much so that I had to ask for a six month extension. When finished, the dissertation was received a Grade A Distinction, which meant it qualified to be permanently bound and placed into the Manchester Business School library.

I’m telling you this because one of the interesting things thrown up by my research was the issue of causal attribution and how business managers and owners deceived themselves, at the risk of the future survival of the business.

Let’s have a look at what I discovered. [click to continue…]


When you have a problem as a business owner, it’s very easy to feel unsure about what you need to do next to improve your business.

You feel stuck (see symptoms of being stuck) and it’s hard to get unstuck on your own.

Quite simply, you’re too close to see things objectively.

This makes it hard to move from the symptoms to the underlying problem so the temptation is to try to cure the symptoms again and again.

It’s like playing whack-a-mole.

An irritating symptom appears and you know you have to do something. So you do but another problem has appeared somewhere else, perhaps as a direct consequence of what you’ve just done.

It may happen again and again. Your motivation to deal with the symptoms reduces but you have this nagging fear in your head that you’re not doing things right.

Pressure builds both in your business and in you. It’s a combustible combination.

But it can be avoidable.

When I work with a client and give them advice, one of the nicest things I like to hear them say is…

“That’s so obvious. Why didn’t I think of that?”

The best ideas are often simple, easily understood and easy to make the commitment to implement.

The answer to the “why they didn’t think of it but I did” question lies partly in my broad knowledge, experience and problem solving techniques and partly because it’s much easier to look at other people’s business problem than it is to look at your own business and see the issues clearly.

Because I’m new to the situation and not emotionally involved, I can more easily see what’s happening and find the solution .

How To Get Unstuck

To get unstuck, you need to see the problem and the possible solutions through fresh eyes to get fresh thinking and to find breakthrough ideas.

This process starts best with an email to me at paul@plancs.co.uk to ask for a Business SOS.

Please tell me about your situation, issue or problem so that I can prepare properly in advance or tell you if I feel that I’m not the person you need. That way, you will get the best that I can give and, if I don’t think I can help, I won’t waste your time.

By working together, combining your knowledge of your trade, profession or industry and my business skills, we can stop you feeling stuck and unsure.

I look forward to hearing from you. All you need to do is to email me at paul@plancs.co.uk and tell me a bit about your business and why you feel stuck.


The Symptoms Of Being Stuck In Your Business

Sometimes you know you’re stuck because you have a problem going around and around in your head without reaching an answer. Other times, you or your business might suffer from some of these symptoms:

  1. You feel conflicted about your business, as if you’re being pulled in at least two directions at the same time..
  2. Profitability is lower than you want.
  3. Cash flow issues regularly arise like being paid late by customers or having to fend off suppliers who want to be paid before you’ve got the money.
  4. You get to the end of the day and you’ve acquired more new jobs to do than you’ve completed in the last ten or twelve hours.
  5. Your employees seem to create more problems than they solve.
  6. You know your customers are disgruntled because you can’t give them the service they demand and you want to give.
  7. You’re unsure where you should focus the time you do have for business improvement in the future.
  8. Customers continually encourage you to cut prices just to keep their business, let alone increase it.

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This is a review of “Genghis Khan Guide to Business” by Brian Charles John Warnes.

Who Should Read This Book

  1. Every qualified accountant without extensive business experience at finance director/controller/chief financial officer level.
  2. Every business owner and entrepreneur.
  3. Every managing director or chief executive who is responsible for the profit and cash performance of a business and who doesn’t have complete confidence in his or her finance director or CFO.

How I Was Introduced To The Book

After I passed the final exams to be a chartered accountant, I was given this book to read by one of the partners in my accountancy firm who had returned to the profession after working in industry for many years. I was told that I’d learn how finance really worked in the real world, away from all the fancy theories I’d learnt to for the exams.

The partner was absolutely right. This book is fantastic but sadly, the follow-up Genghis Khan Business Handbook is not nearly so good.

The Focus Of The Book

Its main emphasis is on cash flow and break even point analysis with a relatively simple but heavily stylised financial tracking system that will get a business on the straight and narrow financially and keep it there.

The author uses the example of the barrow boy to show you that common-sense ideas about financial management can teach you how to run every type of business, even a complicated manufacturing business.

I believe an understanding of how profit and cash flow are generated is essential if you’re going to make the best decisions for managing a business.


  • It was written a long time ago.
  • It is likely to be hard to get and may well be extremely expensive.
  • It suggests a monitoring form that is heavily stylised and belongs to the days before spreadsheets and graphical presentations.

Overall Conclusions

I can’t recommend this book highly enough. I read a lot of business books and this is always in my top five while others come and go.

I can’t imagine a better book about the nitty-gritty workings of finance in a business.


I don’t know of another book like this and the problem with many “finance for non-financial manager” style books that I’ve read is that they are dull.

It’s a much gentler read but I was very impressed with Financial Foreplay by Rhondalynn Korolak.


Blue Ocean Strategy by W Chan Kim and Renee A Mauborgne

I’ve been fascinated by the topic of differentiating a business or product/service for more than 20 years and I even have a separate blog called Differentiate Your Business.

Who Should Read This Book ?

  • Business owners and entrepreneurs.
  • Senior executives in big businesses.
  • Product managers and marketing managers in big businesses.
  • Business consultants, coaches and advisors.

Review Of Blue Ocean Strategy by W Chan Kim and Renee A Mauborgne

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Income Before You Buy Review

Income Before You Buy is the best low cost business growth training aimed at small business owners that I’ve seen. It is so good that I stopped any plans I had for developing my own because I knew I could never match the scope and professionalism of this website based system.

>>>Income Before You Buy – affiliate link

Background To Income Before You Buy

It is one version of the business growth training websites developed by Karl Bryan and Adrian Ulsh.

>>>Income Before You Buy – affiliate link

In fact, it is Adrian’s own website. [click to continue…]