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INNOVATE

Start a Business by Reading a Book?

Sample 50 management ideas and see which ones might apply to your start-up

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BY Bill Huang - 28 Apr 2016

PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

How does one get started on the path to one's own business? Fly by the seat of your pants? Usually not a good idea.

Short of an MBA, 50 Management Ideas You Really Need to Know, by Edward Russell-Walling (Quercus Publishing, 2008) is a good one-stop volume for concepts to help you plan.

It summarizes neatly 50 management concepts that can help any entrepreneur transform a germ of an idea into a viable business. Here are three of the most important concepts.

1. Corporate Strategy: No need to be the best – be yourself

How do you develop a strategy for producing and delivering your chosen product or service? Russell-Walling cites Michael Porter in warning against aiming to be the “best” as an objective or strategy. Instead, says the strategy guru, develop your strategy around what makes your venture unique.

For example, in selected Southeast Asian cities, HappyFresh is an online grocer, but it doesn't stock goods like local shops. Instead, it partners with local supermarkets and even wet markets, where its motorcycle fleet picks up goods to deliver to buyers.

2. Supply Chain Management: Think about every link in the chain

This concept asks you to view your entire supply chain as a continuous process, from sourcing production inputs all the way to final delivery to customers. Here, Russell-Walling discusses the evolution of the supply chain at the hands of the auto industry and mass-market consumer goods, and how globalization has made supply chain management imperative.

Philippines-based loansolutions.ph started out referring prospective borrowers to banks, only to find out that lenders weren't responding promptly to the prospects it generated. So it adjusted its business model to screen prospects and match their needs with specific banks or finance companies, getting quicker action on loans.

3. What Business Are You Really In? - Planning for growth and innovation

Ponder whether your business model/core competence is tied up in a specific product or whether it might be applicable to a different product or service in the future.

Under this concept, the book discusses Theodore Levitt's analysis of America's railroad and movie industries, which he said, stalled not because of declining demand, but due to the rise of alternatives. Their mistake was in believing they were in product-oriented businesses — railroads and movies — rather than evolving into the larger, customer-oriented businesses of transportation and entertainment.

Among Asian enterprises, the same question faced online retailers like Lazada, which rightly answered that they were not selling goods, but offering a wide selection of choices and prices. That’s a winning service.

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