MBAs are hugely expensive and take up time that could be spent gaining real world experience. The premise of The Personal MBA by Josh Kaufman is that you can learn the basics by reading this book, saving yourself a lot of time and money. So if you want to get a grasp of the basics of business without an outdated qualification, this book is the place to turn to.
A lot of key business concepts can be learned in 5 minutes
Each chapter is split into short sections which only take a few minutes to read. Each covers a different business concept. For example if you wanted to learn what the Pricing Uncertainty Principle is, you can find out in 5 minutes.
Reading this book will by no means make you an expert in any of these areas. But it will give you a useful overview of all of them. For example if you need to create a balance sheet, the basics are covered here. It also makes a good reference book to return to if you can’t remember what amortization means or how to calculate a profit margin.
It is easy to forget what you actually want to achieve
As well as lots of factual of information, there are topics such as Sufficiency that offer more general advice. This is one of my favourite sections. It encourages you to think about what you really want to achieve when you are deciding how much to build up a company. There is a nice story about an executive who tries to encourage a fisherman to work longer hours and grow his business. During the conversation they both come to realise that, after years of hard work, the fisherman would be able to do the things he already does now (relax, spend time with his family, pursue his hobbies). The executive resigns.
The key takeaway here is that financial sufficiency is a better aim than world domination. Time is finite and it is a good idea to take a step back and think about what you actually want.
You can learn to work better with yourself
The book also contains several psychological concepts. There is a whole chapter on how to work with yourself. This includes how to plan your day by deciding which tasks are the most important and how you will deal with them. There is also an explanation of Parkinson’s Law. This states that “work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.” If you really want to get something done, give yourself a very strict deadline. There is no point working a 10 hour day if this just means 2 hours of work will expand to take 10 hours.
These are just 3 of the things I took away from reading the book. I feel I have a good overview of the most important concepts in business. Highly recommended for anyone who wants to get to grips with the basics but not spend time and money on an MBA.