The Fantastic Four (business books you need to read!)

It's time to hit the books!Whether you’re an entrepreneur, C-suite executive or manager, it’s always a good idea to get an outside opinion on best business practices. This second opinion may come from various sources such as mentors, professional development workshops or books. 1-800-GOT-JUNK? Founder and CEO, Brian Scudamore wrote on the latter for his column in Profit Magazine.

Here are the four business books that you should read to help you shape and drive your company’s vision, people, business systems and customer WOW!:

I was 18 when I started my first business, The Rubbish Boys. Over time, it grew into a $100-million-a-year company called 1-800-GOT-JUNK? I hope that now, at the age of 40, I’m 22 years the wiser, because I’ve started my next $100-million business.

Last summer, I sought a few quotes for painting my home, including one from Jim of One Day Painting. He told me he could paint my entire home, even the rooms that needed several coats, in just one day—and still do a great job.

Despite my skepticism, I gave Jim my business. In return, I received not only a beautifully painted home but also a new business partner. We’re uniting Jim’s 20 years of painting experience with my 20 years of franchising and branding experience to create 1-888-WOW-1DAY! A perfect match? Maybe not. My research suggests that the second businesses of most entrepreneurs fail. Why? The success of their first business fuels an overconfidence that gets the better of them. So, Jim and I have agreed to grow this brand organically. And we’ll stick firmly to the four guiding principles that underpin the success of 1-800-GOT-JUNK? Each principle falls under one of four categories—vision, people, systems and “customer wow!”—and is borrowed from the most impactful business books I’ve read.

Start with Why1. Vision: Start with Why, by Simon Sinek

Sinek says the most important thing a business can do is “start with why.”

Every business knows what they do—that is, their product or service. Some businesses know how they do it—their “differentiating value propositions.” But few companies can clearly articulate why they do what they do. In other words, they can’t state the cause, purpose or belief—beyond making a profit—around which the company was founded. According to Sinek, living your “why” is a powerful magnet for attracting those employees and customers for whom your cause resonates.

I used to think that 1-800-GOT-JUNK? was about hauling junk. But after reading Start with Why, I realized that what drove me to start the business was the opportunity to do what hadn’t been done before—namely, to turn a dirty, ugly and unscalable business into something clean, sexy and very scalable. Similarly, I seem to be attracted to companies like Starbucks and Apple, which have come to dominate categories to a degree no one thought possible.

Similarly, the service provided by 1-888-WOW-1DAY! is irrelevant to why I’m starting it. It’s a one-man-band kind of business that I believe is scalable in a way that customers will appreciate even more than the “old” way. By knowing and recalling my “why”, I can sustain the passion, urgency and focus that every entrepreneur needs to perpetuate growth.

Good to Great2. People: Good to Great, by Jim Collins

My biggest mistakes as an entrepreneur have been rooted either in hiring the wrong people or putting good people in the wrong role. 1-800-GOT-JUNK? didn’t really start to grow until I had “the right people in the right seats on the bus,” to paraphrase one of Collins’ management axioms. You want to hire people who believe in your vision and can execute the plan to get there.

To start 1-888-WOW-1DAY! on the right foot, we’re awarding the first five franchises to 1-800-GOT-JUNK? operators whose achievements within that franchise system have shown their capabilities and alignment with our vision. Once they succeed and we have some home runs under our belt, we’ll start recruiting the next round of “whos.”

3. Business Systems: The E-Myth Revisited, by Michael GerberThe E-Myth Revisited

When I moved to Victoria to start the second office and operation of The Rubbish Boys in 1995, I picked up The E-Myth Revisited and read it cover to cover—twice! Gerber’s assertion that “people don’t fail, but systems do” inspired me to write an operations manual filled with one-page best practice summaries for each activity required to grow and operate a 1-800-GOT-JUNK? franchise. But I challenged each “best” practice as I documented it. By the end of 1997, my operating systems were so tight that the business looked and felt so much like a well-oiled franchise business that franchising became my model for growth.

Jim, our seasoned founder and one-day painting expert, has been capturing 1-888-WOW-1DAYS! best practices in a similar format and challenging them as we document them, so that we also can help our franchise partners hit the ground running.

The Ultimate Question4. Customer Wow!: The Ultimate Question, by Fred Reichheld

If “what gets measured gets managed,” then Reichheld’s net promoter score (NPS) is the most telling metric in business. According to his analysis, companies with a high NPS enjoy exponential growth rates and keep their customers and employees for a long time. To arrive at your NPS, ask every customer “the ultimate question” (“On a scale of 0 to 10, how likely is it that you would recommend this company to a friend or colleague?”), then subtract the percentage of “detractors” (clients who rate you at 0 to 6) from the percentage of “promoters” (9 or 10).

World-class companies have an NPS of 20 to 50; 1-800-GOT-JUNK? has an NPS of 83! The NPS system has focused us on turning around our detractors and eliminating systems problems in the business. At 1-888-WOW-1DAY!, we’ll measure our NPS from Day 1.

Anyone can haul junk. Anyone can paint houses. But few people can create sustainable growth companies. The difference between the winners and the also-rans? Winners adopt guiding principles, then stick to them. What are yours?

Brian Scudamore is the Founder and CEO of 1-800-GOT-JUNK?. You can view the original article here:

Comments are closed.