Every once in a while comes a book which creates a defining change in your life. You are glad it came your way and you are eager to share it with others. I am not a reader of management books but if you are in business I suggest you read this one.
It will mean different things to different people. It is called Small Giants, by Bo Burlingham. It is about companies that choose to be great instead of big.
The book profiles 14 privately held companies in the US that have chosen to march to their own drum by rejecting the pressure of endless, senseless unprofitable growth and build great companies that are market leaders with values and unparalleled customer focus.
If you are confused about how to grow your business and want answers on when to sell equity and who to sell it to and the implications of such a decision on you, your progeny, your staff and your customers, try this one. Also, the book puts things in perspective. Sometimes you get so caught up in the loop of the next quarter that you lose sight of the real thing; which is you are trying to build a brand, you are trying to build a company that needs to have values, that needs to be respected and that needs to be great.
It helped me put my business life into perspective and make the decision to completely exit the business at what I think showed great timing. At that point of time I was thinking, ‘I don’t have a next generation that could have taken over my business, and so to make it a family business and let children inherit it didn’t arise; which means if I wanted to continue running my business, at some point of time, I had to run my own business for the next decade or two and I would travel at least 20 days a month and it was quite hectic at work’. I wanted to build a brand that people respected more than made money because I do believe that if you do things that are customer friendly in the retail world, money comes.
At the end of the day, no matter how hard you work and how long you work, you can’t take it with you.(As told to Nilofer D’Souza)
(This story appears in the 19 February, 2010 issue of Forbes India. To visit our Archives, click here.)