This review appeared on the “Straight Talking Truth!” blog.
It’s rare in these day and ages that you get to read a business book that really causes a shift in thinking, It’s because these rare gems exist that it’s worth reading the other mediocre books just to find them.
The Benevolent Dictator by Author Michael Feuer, is a no-frills book that doesn’t deal with the theory, but the facts of what Michael did to turn a business into a 5Billion (USD) company. All nice and an interesting read but where this book really sets itself apart is in what happened next – Feuer sold the business and decided to do it all again, but here’s the good part during THIS economic recession. This isn’t a historical account it’s fresh and actionable ammunition.
The timing of this experience is why this book is on my must read list for start ups. Banks aren’t playing ball with their customers and frankly many can’t be trusted anymore, so VC’s and Angels have more suiters to their money whilst being very cautious. Feuer offers his experience and insights as to how he found and executed a start up in this new, never seen before business environment. By using clever financing such as vendor financing under what he calls the “stalking horses” – the investors or partner that when someone see’s their involved want a piece of the action. For example any company that Warren Buffet invests in sees a boost as copy cats follow in to raise the share price, known as the “Warren Buffet factor. So rather than look for any investment, target investors with a “rifle rather than shot gun approach” and this books tells you how to do it.
So what exactly is a Benevolent Dictator? As a start up business or any business in start up mode (Virgin is renowned for always being in start up mode despite its size), A Benevolent Dictator is one who is willing to just get on with making the decisions. It’s not to say they don’t rely on staff input but a decision should rarely be a reason for slowing down progress to get to a goal. Staff have their career’s to worry about if they make a wrong move, think civil service – usually the most dangerous think one can do is make a decision on your own because a group decision offers a shared responsibility if it doesn’t work out. As a leader you have an obligation to make a decision and go with it. If it turns out to be wrong you can always reverse it. Once your company grows, empower your leaders to make these decisions also, mistakes are usually cheaper than paralysis by analysis.
The book is an insightful, enjoyable and actionable read from a person who has done it all and is doing it all again.