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The small business entrepreneur: learning the big company lessons


Entrepreneurs don't on the whole read management books, and most such books don't seem to be written for them – especially those who run smaller businesses. After all, there's a vast gulf between the scale of business that employs at most 100 people and a payroll in the tens of thousands. The large company can turn over £1 million, not in a good year, but an everyday hour.

The discrepancy in size makes no difference at all. Every time I talk to an audience including bosses of small businesses they query whether the principles that apply to IBM or ICI apply to them. The answer is always the same. Of course they do. Large companies have more sophisticated systems, naturally (or unnaturally) and more complex tasks. But the fundamentals of business and management are invariable – and entrepreneurs who act on the big company lessons taught at the seminars and written in the management books gain immeasurably.

Quite recently, an enquiry about a book of my own confirmed this truth, that sound principles apply alike to large and middling business – and small. David Craven, joint managing director of NST, Ltd, couldn't remember the book's title, though he did recall the acronym round which it was built: IT BECAME FAST. The dozen principles embodied in the acronym had 'provided the basis of my approach to running my own business'. Over a decade, it had grown from a £1 million to a £15 million turnover to be Britain's largest operator of educational tours.

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