Better Small-Medium Business: Wisdom From Mark Twain, John Wooden and The Aussie Outback


Inspiration for small-medium commercial enterprise improvement can come from anywhere: even from Mark Twain, John Wooden and a mining town in the Australian outback Australian College of Community Services and Care.

Once Upon A Time…

Over forty years ago, I was living in a mining community in a completely, very faraway a part of Australia. The nearest metropolis was four hundred miles away. I discovered myself volunteering to teach a team of tradesmen and employees inside the local basketball competition. It was rough and prepared bush basketball with very little finesse. But it turned into wonderful fun. It worried the complete community, male and lady, from 10 years of age and upward.

The Message

One Sunday afternoon another volunteer coach and I had been having a drink and a chat. “You recognize,” he stated, “the top notch issue approximately basketball is that the greater you find out approximately it, the extra you realize you do not know.” I agreed. But on the time I had no concept how profound his comment turned into.

What Mark And John Say

Last year I observed quotations that said a great deal the same as my coaching colleague.

Mark Twain said, “It ain’t what you do not know that receives you into trouble. It’s what you realize for certain that just ain’t so.” And John Wooden said, “It’s what you study when you understand it all that counts.”

Small-Medium Business Implications

Why don’t we take extra observe of these clever and skilled people? I’ve spent maximum of the final 35 years advising managers how to run higher groups. Of that time, I’ve worked solely with mangers in small-medium enterprise for nearly twenty years.

I’m fascinated as an instance, approximately how keen these managers are to try to imitate huge corporations. I continuously discover managers of groups that hire, say, 26 human beings give an explanation for to me what they can examine from a commercial enterprise that employs 26,000 people!

The Gurus

And they’re also keen to observe a few academic specialists who have extraordinary professional reputations. But many of those gurus have by no means run any form of enterprise in their whole lives.

More Examples

In 1981 Al Ries and Jack Trout wrote “Positioning, The Battle For The Mind”. In 2011, 30 years later, the readers of “Advertising Age” voted “Positioning” the “Most Important Marketing Book Ever”. I still discover managers who declare that what Al and Jack say “would not practice to my commercial enterprise”. Thirty years of consumer approval would not seem to mean a lot to them.

The Conundrum

Many managers are reluctant to simply accept philosophies and techniques that have a protracted records of effectiveness. Yet they dangle to techniques – written packages for jobs are an example – that virtually don’t work anymore and that era has overtaken. It’s similarly puzzling why such a lot of managers take hold of the ultra-modern fad and run with it merely as it’s new, now not because it works.

The Perils Of Line Extension And Other “Essentials”

Ries and Trout counseled strongly in opposition to line extension. It confuses customers and employees. They additionally talked about that ideas like “benchmarking” and “world’s high-quality exercise” aren’t as valuable as they first seem. They advise that SME managers need to emulate what the likes of Apple was doing whilst it had, say 30 employees, rather than these days when it is the “maximum valuable corporation in the global”.

The Conundrum And You

So what is all this to do with you and your small-medium business?

Focus, attention, awareness: determine the only factor it is you do properly and paintings to get higher at it than all of us else
Define your goal market: spend all – yes, all – your advertising and marketing price range advertising and marketing for your goal market. Market to nobody else.
Accept that there is lots you do not know: purchase the great outside expertise you can have the funds for in those areas you know little about
Beware of fads and fashions, particularly if they emerge from the examine of huge commercial enterprise. Look for things which have worked in groups across the equal length and improvement as yours
You can not be all things to every person: do not trouble attempting
Expand your enterprise by way of doing what you do properly even higher: however do it for greater people on your goal marketplace
Arrogance is the enemy of a hit business people and entrepreneurs. Just due to the fact you make the exceptional screwdrivers in the world, do not imagine for a minute that this entitles you to teach others to make screwdrivers or your self to make screws
Be cautious about changing some thing it is already running thoroughly for you. As the vintage adage says, “The first individual to become bored of the income slogan is the salesperson”.
If you’re paying different businesses to offer a provider in your commercial enterprise, the identical applies. There’s always someone who’ll say, “We should do that ourselves simply as well and save the cash”. Firstly, you may not “store the cash”. The carrier will nonetheless value you when provided in-residence. Secondly, if you’re happy with the results you are receiving from out of doors, depart it in location and concentrate your efforts in areas of your commercial enterprise that need changing and that you know lots approximately.
Be very suspicious of the views of all and sundry who tells you, “I recognize for a truth… ” Remember what Mark Twain stated. Never accept “facts” without compelling evidence proving their existence.
In case you do not know, John Wooden is regarded as one of the finest basketball coaches ever. He selected now not to teach in professional leagues. He spent a completely lengthy profession coaching university basketball with excellent fulfillment. He died in 2010 on the age of ninety nine. If you think you “are aware of it all”, Wooden shows you are indulging your self. “Failure isn’t always fatal, says Wooden, “but failure to change can be.”
Surveying customers to find out what new products they want in reality would not work. When Henry Ford become requested why he didn’t do surveys to discover what human beings desired, he is stated to have responded, “They’d have desired a faster horse.” And Steve Jobs didn’t believe in surveying clients approximately new merchandise.
You are strolling or assisting to run a business. It’s smooth to lose sight of the fact. “How will this advantage the commercial enterprise?” That’s the query to invite continually.
The Technology Trap

“The only constant is trade” is an old adage that still applies. What this means is that iPads and iPhones and all of the generation we’ve got come to be used to is genuinely the modern day alternate. Technology absolutely permits us to do things more efficiently, greater successfully, greater speedy and less expensively. It’s now not the be all and quit all. It’s simply a advanced device. Use it accurately to enhance your commercial enterprise. But don’t permit it dominate you.


Small-medium business is not a cut down, grade faculty version of large business. Both must comply with comparable simple standards. But the application of the standards varies significantly. The antique “stick to your knitting” method nevertheless has awesome benefit.

In their 1990s business e book, “The Power Of One To One”, Ian Kennedy and Bryce Courtney offered the following recommendation. “Do most effective those things to which you deliver a unique attitude. Buy everything else across the nook”. It’s super recommendation.

Leon Noone helps managers in small-medium enterprise to enhance on-task staff performance with out education courses. His thoughts are quite unconventional. Leon challenges traditional know-how of humans control, control education & is effective on job overall performance in small-medium business.