I read a lot of books and one of the best I have read recently is a new book with the enigmatic title “Roadside MBA – Backroad Lessons for Executives, Entrepreneurs and Small Business Owners“.
The premise of three Economics Professors jumping into a car and setting off on a journey of discovery is a brilliant premise (there must be a movie in it) and it is written in an entertaining and easily read way. It could be the basis of a whole series with multiple spin-offs… But what did I really get out of it?
1. There is a clear connect between dry economic theory taught in business schools and what happens in the real world. Time and again the authors find local Entrepreneurs putting into practice strategies taught for pricing, hiring and other tasks which they have rationalised themselves out of the business situation. These are taught as Economic theory with grandiose names.
2. Every company has key advantages. The book contains numerous examples of companies using their advantages (ie small size, detailed local knowledge, etc) to win. The key is to know your strengths and play to them (never pick a strength fight with the 800lb gorilla in your market).
3. Product differentiation. There are lots of examples of Companies pushing very different products in different ways but all the successful ones have clear differentiation and a clear target market. They are not trying to create a product that everyone will love….
4. Hiring is a very tough challenge for all companies. There is a marvellous example of a shipping company which altered its working hours to be day only so that it appealed to ‘hard-working mums’ and not ‘dead-beat dads’.
5. Mazzeo’s law. The correct replies to any strategic question is always ‘It depends’…
Any business often boils down to get the basics right and there are lots of examples in this book to reinforce that message in an entertaining and practical way.
You can learn more about the RaodSide MBA on the website – Roadside MBA. I hope you find it as useful and enjoyable as I did. You can even get the audio book to enjoy as you drive if you want the ultimate roadside MBA…
What type of books are you reading at the moment, are there any you are recommending to us?
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