Book Of The Week: Secret to getting rich - buy a dog

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The Independent Online
The Ultimate Entrepreneur's Book

by Richard Dobbins & Barrie Pettman (Capstone, pounds 12.99)

THIS IS a book by two men who have made their millions, are now management consultants and want to share how they got there. Discover the secrets of success and the three ways to get rich quickly, such as "buying a dog".

The key is self-belief. If you believe you can't swim, you can't swim. If you believe you can swim, you can swim - or you will be able to soon. Set your goals, affirm and visualise your success every day, have a positive mental attitude and form a mastermind alliance of creative people.

It is a stern regime. You must say "no" to television, pubs, newspapers and spending time with low achievers. Instead, read one non-fiction book per month, attend three to five courses per year and use one hour each day for self-development. Well, they did warn that you had to pay the price.

This is all classic advice, which you can read in many self-help books. Indeed Dobbins and Pettman acknowledge the influence of the classic writers on success, such as Napoleon Hill.

There is a gentler side too. Among the 25 "can do" suggestions for greater success are: be patient, stop hurrying and avoid being an aggressive driver. You must find things to inspire you and make you appreciate that life is precious and beautiful.

This book is packed with lists of ideas. There are 17 mental laws to follow. There are 25 ways to increase sales income, "which you have probably already considered", 25 "you may have already considered", 25 "you may not have considered" and 25 "you probably won't have considered". For example: Contact every new customer two to four weeks after making a sale (from 25 "you may not have considered"). This is simple and obvious. Were we doing it at Happy Computers? No. Are we doing it now? You bet.

The authors suggest three ways to get rich quickly. One, set up in competition with an existing business but do it 10 per cent better. Two, find a product that works somewhere else (such as in the US) and do it in a different place. Three, buy a dog.

The latter is based on the Boston analysis of dividing your products into stars, cash cows, question marks and dogs. A product that is a dog (a waste of resources with little hope of significant profit) for a large company could be perfect for you.

Too many people dreaming of setting up their own business think they have to invent something new. My business was created in an established market, computer training, and was based on aiming to do it better, making it more fun.

People would be well advised to look at existing businesses. The secret isn't a blinding revelation but ...

I reckon a business book has been worth it if it is an enjoyable read and there are two or three concrete ideas to put into practice. This book is bubbling over with useful ideas - it passes the test.

It isn't, though, the "ultimate" guide to entrepreneurial success as the name claims. I believe the real key, as you grow, lies in setting your people free to use their own judgement and ideas within clear principles, in breaking away from structures and hierarchies that constrain them. And that crucial element isn't really covered. As a sales and marketing guide it is great, but don't expect it to give all the answers.

The reviewer is chief executive of Happy Computers, a London-based computer training company