When first approached to review Michael Feuer’s The Benevolent Dictator, I was hesitant. How could another book be written on how to start and build a buisness? Is there really a new way to do this? In the end, my hesitancy is what convinced me to read this book. I knew a publisher would not put a book out that did not have something new in it.
I was pleasantly surprised when I began reading Feuer’s The Benevolent Dictator. First, it is an easy read. This business book is written in short, almost how-to chapters called lessons. Each lesson is told with examples from Feuer’s business life. Feuer is the mastermind behind the success of Jo-Ann Stores in the late 70’s and the 1980’s before he founded OfficeMax.
The book is split, quite logically, into four sections: start-up, build out and idea testing, reinvention and payout. While many of the lessons may seem like common sense, there are equally as many that are simply pieces of brilliance for the businessman or entrepreneur.
As is the case in many instances these days, I look at my race running and training as a business. Consequently, when reading a business book, I tend to apply the lessons to my training. I also apply lessons to my freelance business. The lesson in start-up that most called to me as a runner and as a freelancer is lesson eight, competition stinks. As a freelancer, I know that competition stinks. Gigs are hard to find and secure. More and more time is put into finding the next gig because of competition. On the other hand, by finding my own strength, I can find gigs that are almost “tailor-suited” for me.
In the idea testing section, lesson 11 about plans screamed at me. Not only should there be a plan, all good runners and entrepreneurs should have a plan B, plan C, maybe even plan D. As a running, I set goals for my races. I set what I hope to be a realistic finishing time goal. Then, as I know I should, I set other goals. Because you never know what is waiting for you during a race, other goals should be set with the final goal – when all others have alluded you – being to finish.
I strongly suggest anyone in business – whether a worker bee or a boss or an entrepreneur or a freelancer – pick up a copy of Feuer’s The Benevolent Dictator. The lessons that Feuer has learned in his business life are ones from which we all can learn and take advantage.
I received an advance copy of Feuer’s book, The Benevolent Dictator, for purposes of this review. The thoughts on the book are totally mine.