Adrian recently returned from Shnizzfest and is really fired up. He got a ton out of it, in particular, he found Larry Kesslin to be a terrific speaker, with a lot of great information. As part of the conference, each attendee received Larry’s book, “Break Points” (co-authored by Chris Winter). Based on Adrian’s feedback, I decided to read it.
The book is based on a fable and promises to discuss the various places where businesses get stuck between 1 and 100 employees. It is a really short, easy read. The story line is basically two guys who have built up an MSP (Managed Services Provider: another name for our industry), sold it and are now teaching a class of business students by recapping the various “Break Points” on their entrepreneurial journey.
Clearly, the authors have talked with many businesses like Smart Dolphins as they nail down many of the challenges we have faced over the years. So, in one sense, I thought it was fitting that the content was directed at students within the story as many of the Break Points were relatively elementary ideas, i.e. “make a plan”, “communicate”, “hire good people”, etc. That said, I don’t think you ever have any piece mastered and I definitely pulled out a couple nuggets in this “easy” stuff. This book would definitely have saved me a TON of time, money and energy if I had read it eleven years ago when I first started my company. The actual fable was entertaining enough and being short was an asset, opposed to signalling a shortage of value. A good read.
In particular, I think the section around partnerships was sage advice. Partnerships are indeed like a marriage and should be treated as such. I know a lot of business people that wish they had never had a business partner.
On the flip side, the book is missing depth in sales and operations. Basically, the storyline suggests that you hire these skills. Unfortunately, the ability to hire these individual roles requires that you grow larger than 99% of businesses out there. How do you do this without a solid mastery of sales and operations to get you there? These two areas have definitely been the biggest “break point areas” for Smart Dolphins. Of course, these are MASSIVE topics that fill business libraries. I wouldn’t expect the authors to nail these down. I just worry that “students” starting out my get an overly simplified view of growing a business to 100 employees. So given they have attempted to identify the more subtle Break Points, maybe the title should have been called something like, “Hidden Break Points” or something.
Given the book took about 3-4 hours to read, it was definitely worth the read, especially for people just starting out. It is written from the perspective of an MSP, but I think the concepts apply to all business decision makers.