So I read the book, asked him questions, wrote an introduction to the interview, and submitted the post to the blog. Unfortunately, it didn't fit the blog's format, so instead of trying to rework it to make it fit, I decided to post it here with a more expanded introduction that fits *my* format, which is not business-y or agenda-driven (which a lot of blogs have become--stiff, impersonal, self-serving, over-functional, etc).
I've done work for Barry over the past year and have had a good experience working for him. He's also a consultant who knows what he's talking about because he's experienced failure and success, and is honest about his struggles. That's why the book he wrote is helpful. You also don't have to read it from beginning to end because it's set up to solve a variety of business problems, so you can just look up the issue you're dealing with and read that part.
One chapter that stood out was about understanding financial statements. Some people are really into numbers, so they take the time to check their balance sheets and other statements to make sure their cash flow is good. But many business owners find it tedious and intimidating to analyze the numbers, so they continue along in ignorance. Then when they notice that they have major financial problems, they are surprised. Checking financial statements isn't as exciting as doing the business, but if a business owner doesn't understand them, they're going to end up broke or not making what they should. Barry says in the book that he sold a business for way less than it was worth due to such ignorance.
I haven't read every business book and blog out there, but there isn't a lot of advice that includes understanding financial statements. It's not a sexy topic and seems really dry, and the lack of such information really makes me wonder if those "experts" understand their *own* financials. After reading Barry's book, I realized that an enterprising person can create a niche by giving financial advice to business owners who are afraid or uneducated about financial statements. The person can break down the complexities for any kind of entrepreneur to understand through books, lectures, and various media, then create their own successful business through that! So take this idea and run with it because I'm not numbers-minded.
But it's not like no one talks about financials. In one business reality show called The Profit, Marcus Lemonis will look at a failing business' books and let the owner know how off the mark they are with their own estimates. Even restaurant reality shows like Kitchen Nightmares and Restaurant Impossible talk about the economics of running a restaurant and tell the owners to think about what they're actually spending on each meal.
Anyway, below is the Q&A I did with Barry, who's super-busy but seems to still enjoy non-work aspects of life.
What is the biggest problem that causes business owners to get stuck?
Companies only do sales and marketing when business is slow. They need to have a systematic way to always do marketing so they can be there when customers are ready to buy.
What are your suggestions for creating a system?
You’ve got to watch my videos or take my class :-)
I was surprised to read that many business owners don’t understand financial statements. Why is that, and what should they do?
They do not get an education on how to read financial statements. It is not intuitive and they are afraid to ask their CPA for help.
Why are they afraid, and what do you suggest for learning how to read the statements?
They are afraid they should understand the statements but don't. Read about how to learn in my book How to Get Unstuck.
How can business owners avoid complacency?
Always ask, “Am I still solving a real pain for a customer who can pay to fix it?”
What if you've discovered that you're no longer solving a pain?
Morph the business to find the pain.
What’s a good way to stand out in a down economy when there’s also so much competition?
Connect personally with customers. This can be done through some pretty slick tech to show that you really care.
What slick tech do you recommend?
No slick tech but using CRM [Customer Relationship Management] and Social Media work--be personal.
How can business owners maintain their passion and productivity?
Ask yourself, “Why am I really doing this, and how do I want to make a difference in the world?”
Do you have suggestions to go through that reflective process?
Ask everyday, “Why am I in the business I am in?” Take time off during the week, month, year to reflect.