11 success factors for small and medium-sized companies: 5 DIY books instead of consultants {review}

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This time five books that are tailored to small and medium-sized companies. For those who can't and don't want to hire a team of consultants for every question. For companies that want to position themselves professionally from the bakery to the IT forge.

By the way: You can find many more hand-picked reading recommendations in our section Editorial book tips.

Here writes for you:


Wolfgang Hanfstein 38Wolfgang Hanfstein is co-founder and chief editor of Managementbuch.de, the leading bookstore for executives, entrepreneurs and self-employed persons.


Quick check for SMEs

This is about 100% of German companies. More specifically, 99,7% of all German companies. It is about SMEs, small and medium-sized enterprises. Under 50 million sales, among 500 employees.

In the media, however, the 0,3% of the other companies are usually mentioned. Although SMEs generate about 60% of all jobs subject to social insurance and generate almost 40% of sales.

Do not make consultants

Most of these companies can not afford to hire expensive consultants for any question. In this respect, the same applies to company management: self-making.

With the book “Corporate Management for Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises”, which is published by the “Offensive Mittelstand”, managers and entrepreneurs can now find instructions on how to operate the eleven most important ones Success Factors to light up.

Review your own strategy

Small and medium-sized companies are characterized by the fact that there was usually a founder with an idea and the courage to implement it. As a result, the company grows around the orders, gets bigger - and confusing.

And the threats are also increasing. That is why it is important to make a cut again and again and put the company to the test.

Eleven factors show where the hare is in the pepper

The makers of the “Offensive Mittelstand” have filtered out eleven factors that can be used to check the orientation of the company.

The eleven factors are briefly described, their significance for the companies is clarified and the most important methods are presented. Practical tips and checklists to make the book an excellent tool.

The eleven success factors at a glance

  1. Strategy: From gut feeling to systematic use of resources: "This is our specific path, we want that and it makes us successful".
  2. Liquidity: This ensures the company's ability to pay. The presentation of the key ratios (liquidity 1 and 2 grades)
  3. Risk assessment: Establishing companies and leading them into the future always means taking risks. The systematic risk assessment helps to keep the risks under control.
  4. Leadership: Even with one employee, “leadership” is an issue that never stops. The authors show what the framework must be like so that the employees also work.
  5. Customer service: Every business stands and falls with the acceptance of the service at the customer. Parameters that are subject to constant change. Here the methods are presented to bind customers in the long term.
  6. Organisation: Is the company set up so that all processes run smoothly? Do all the working conditions they need to be good?
  7. Corporate culture: This chapter provides important impulses for the design of a productive corporate culture. This is a factor that plays a part in the co-operation and achievement of objectives.
  8. Personal development: Even in small companies it is hardly enough to look for personnel when the others are no longer able to do the job. The authors show how personnel development can and should be systematically operated.
  9. processes: Do all employees know what they are doing? Will the work be handed over so that the others can work seamlessly? Optimal process control helps to reduce inventory levels as well as increase customer satisfaction.
  10. Procurement: There is not only profit in purchasing. In purchasing, the quality of the products is also decided. This is why the systematic view of the whole process is also helpful.
  11. Innovation: It must and can not always be the iPad. But if you want to be successful in the market tomorrow, you have to make innovation a top priority.

The big picture in view

All eleven success factors are presented precisely on a few pages. And in such a way, entrepreneurs and executives quickly recognize where the hare is in the pepper. In addition, the authors show which next steps can be initiated quickly.

Of course there are meters of specialist books on all the factors described here. But precisely in the conciseness and brevity lies the advantage of “corporate management for medium-sized companies.” This is the only way to get an overview of all important factors and quickly determine where there is a need for action. Predicate "valuable" because "corporate management for small and medium-sized businesses" deals precisely with the circumstances of SMEs and, thanks to its very good structure, quickly reveals important findings.

From the tramp to the own model

How to start small and get rich is shown by Sophia Amoruso, successful CEO of the million dollar company “Nasty Gal” and employs over 350 people. She lived for a long time from shoplifting and poorly paid jobs. Your book #Girlboss is a brilliant invitation to follow your own path.

The author of the book is Sophia Amoruso, who made her first money selling stolen books on the Internet - and who, at the age of less than 30, set up a multi-million dollar company: the fashion label “Nasty Gal”. Sophia Amoruso was not put on her lap.

Her beginnings were more than rocky: she left home at 17, wrote college in the wind, and hitchhiked through the USA for a few years. During this time she lived from shoplifting (until she was caught) and poorly paid jobs. The big turning point came when she started selling vintage clothes on eBay. Amoruso had found her passion ...

Management tips and instructions for shoplifting

Her book #Girlboss contains exact instructions for successful shoplifting (taking as much as possible is the least noticeable). The book is also a Hollywood-style biography of a young American. It is the embodiment of the American “dishwasher-to-millionaire dream”.

And there are a few important business principles for (future) business executives (your employees are not your friends). In short: a gripping book that you read here with your mouth open, laughs out loud there and on the other hand really gets practical tips.

Sure, she had good luck - but above all an irrepressible will. In the beginning, the decision - she was just 18 - was no longer enough to feed herself from garbage cans. She sold old clothes through eBay and was herself a model, photographer, shopper, supplier and washerwoman. Always accurate, always eager to give your customers a great shopping experience. Then it went up steep and fast. About your own shop to the international fashion brand.

Just start and make

Such a meteoric rise suggests to say: "Look, I did it, you can do it too". Sophia Amoruso does not fall into this trap. She probably also wrote this book to show that behind the “sexiest CEO alive” (Business Insider 2013) is a woman who cannot and cannot be got down. This makes your book a courage book.

A corporation does not always have to and cannot jump out - but it can always lead a self-confident life. The book is a brilliant invitation to women to think big. Including precise advice on hiring and firing people, finding venture capitalists (and sending them home), and why it's good to just start.

How companies become attractive employers: Employer branding can not be prescribed

Employer branding is also important, especially for small companies. Because if a company is made attractive to applicants, it must automatically become attractive to its employees. In this way, tight markets always have good effects.

With “Employer Branding”, Katja Nagel has written a book that provides strategy and HR managers in the company with ideas on how to create the best framework conditions in order to become an attractive employer.

What to do when good people are rare?

Because, look closely: what does the best people in your industry think of working with you? Or what can you do to ensure that the best people in your industry break the booth?

The appropriate weapon in the “war for talent” seemed to have been found in the 90s. With “Employer Branding”, companies were geared towards the goal of becoming an attractive “employer brand”.

Employer branding increases satisfaction

The bill went up. And even more. After all, companies that relied on Employer Brandig increased satisfaction levels among the entire workforce, reducing the sick-leave rate and even theft rate.

Today it is therefore no longer a question of “whether”, but rather “how” of employer branding. The expert Katja Nagel provides very good insights in her book “Employer Branding”, which has now been published by Linde.

Bad working atmosphere with little return

Whether start-up or international group employees, first and foremost a good working atmosphere, challenging tasks, opportunities for further education and a company that can be trusted in the future.

In order to make this list of preferences editable for companies, Katja Nagel distills the main “drivers” of “employer attractiveness”. In this way, every company can see which adjustment screws need to be turned and where the company's good performance only needs to be communicated accordingly.

The good guys are doing it

What Katja Nagel describes here is well to the point, but not new. Her book is useful when the author makes use of her good contacts.

After all, as a business owner with a lot of group experience, most recently as a communication and strategy manager at O2 Germany, many doors were open to her. And so she provides in this book illuminating case studies on Employer Branding from the best addresses.

Case studies from practice

With Siemens, Bertelsmann, SAP, Unilever and Roland Berger. And the case studies Omicron electronics and compeople AG show that employer branding can also create the special “spirit” in medium-sized companies:

Here employer branding was exemplified rather than “implemented”. And that shows: You won't be a great employer by talking, but by acting. Because it unfolds its effect from the inside out and thus systematically takes into account the value of each individual employee as the company's “ambassador”.

Proudly you can not prescribe

It is no wonder that employer branding is now considered an important tool for corporate positioning. But it also shows that the tools of consumer branding at Employer Branding do not help.

Because whether a company is considered an “attractive employer” can also be seen from the fact that the employees are proud to work for the company. And you cannot prescribe pride. You can only be proud if the general conditions are right.

B2B - job without regular training

So far, I've reviewed numerous books, which tended to be the soft-skill topics. Now it was once again time for hard-hitting sales knowledge. After all, it is also important that the checkout is right, or is an important aspect.

Sales is a difficult business. And a particularly responsible one. Because it's about a lot of money. And mostly about complicated products. The sales teams and sales people in the B2B business are ultimately responsible for the success or failure of a product or even entire companies. And yet there is no regular training for this job.

The book “Hot on cold calling” by the professional Tim Taxis is therefore extremely important. I recommend it to all entrepreneurs to bring sales up to scratch. And all sellers who want to fill up their commission account.

There is no way around the phone

Focus of the book is the telephone cold calling. Because B2B products usually have a limited number of potential customers. And with those, it is important to get into conversation.

That does not work eMail, And that is not possible by spontaneous appearance at the customer. Remains the phone. So pick up the handset, choose and - avoid the click-surring effect.

The deadly click-surr-effect

Sales professionals are familiar with this. You call and the called party puts the record down: "No, thank you, we are already taken care of". Click-Surr-Effect is what Tim Taxis calls it. You press play (click) and the other unwinds his record (Surr). This happens when you use the wrong method.

And that's why Tim Taxis shows in his book what sellers can do to prevent this effect. For example, through consistent change of perspective. By practicing an opening greeting. Or by using positive speech patterns.

Please do not warn meeMail!

In “Hot for cold calling”, Tim Taxis lets the spark jump. Anyone who is even a little bit motivated for their job will be keen to try out the new methods right away. Because taxis succeed in showing the structures and laws of the sales process.

Sellers are confirmed with their experiences - and they learn to “read” these experiences again. You will find many practical tips and hints in this book. For example, that a call is better not through one eMail is being prepared ("Do you have mine eMail to get?" is one of the most boring and least promising entry points).

I do not need it.

The quality of Tim Taxis' book can also be seen in the fact that he puts the current knowledge to the test. And not as a provocation, but as intelligent questioning. The result is, among other things, a differentiated and productive examination of the topic “benefit argumentation”.

Tim Taxis breaks it down into “customer-based argumentation”, distinguishes characteristics, advantages and benefits and shows that besides the business benefits, the personal benefits (eg status, fear, security ...) of the buyer also play an important role. Conclusion: Very suitable for self-study and training for all B2B sellers and sales departments.

The big book for small and medium-sized entrepreneurs:

There are very few books dedicated to the needs of medium-sized entrepreneurs. The new book of Cay of Fournier is one such. And indeed a very good, which is why I liked to have reviewed it.

Entrepreneurs have one outstanding characteristic that sets them apart from most others: they have courage. And with that they are exploring new territory. It doesn't matter whether someone opens a hairdressing salon or a high-tech company. It is always a departure into an absolutely uncertain future.

With courage and responsibility

And usually the responsibility for the family and for a growing number of employees comes. At the same time, the requirements for structures, methods and tools are growing.

Because only those who develop the skills to sail on the high seas in time will be rewarded. In his opulently furnished book “Entrepreneur Energy”, Cay from Fournier teaches entrepreneurs exactly these skills at the highest level.

High book art with wow effect

It is not an ordinary book, which the CEO of the SchmidtColleg presents here. With its over 2 kilo weight, its oversized format and its 400 richly illustrated pages it has become a large compendium of the company management.

No linear book in which one has to fight from side to side, but a splendid book, in which one just as gladly leafs as reads. And in which you get valuable and often surprising suggestions on each side.

The more chaotic the markets, the more important corporate governance is with system

At the center of the book is the “leadership energy” system, in which all essential areas of corporate management are systematically examined. The advantage of the system is that it enables management to be experienced as a holistic process.

In this, the health of the employees and the entrepreneur are just as important as the correct use of organizational aids, comprehensible controlling and the clear definition of company goals. All against the background of building and running an organization that contributes to a “humane market economy”.

A cornucopia of ideas and tools

Woven into the dramaturgy of the book are interesting examples of best practice, exciting portraits of entrepreneurs and practical tools such as monthly reports or “responsibility contracts”.

Huge input for medium-sized entrepreneurs - entertaining, full of aha effects, written without technical jargon, but in the language of entrepreneurs.

Too much self-promotion, but great tips

For so much class one can forgive the author even the sometimes somewhat applied self-promotion!

My conclusion: “UnternehmerEnergie” by Cay von Fournier is an excellent book for entrepreneurs because it helps to systematize and successfully master the diverse requirements. ”

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  1. Write and stay in the black - Personal-Wissen.de

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