Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Secret To Get Rich???

Most self help books are useless and some are more useless than others, so when I read a self help book, I’m not looking for any real help. Instead, I look for honest opinions and insights on the topic being dealt with. This book does contain many good and honest insights into what makes a business as successful as the author’s.

Dominating your niche means going all the way to stand on top of your competitors. Sounds fierce? Well, the author begins with an intro for newbies on what entrepreneurship is all about. You must:
1. Have a reason to go into business
2. Think big and aim high
3. Be obsessive about it
4. Focus on profits
5. Burn bridges and don’t think about turning back

It’s only in Chapter 3 that the author starts talking about niche markets. How does one find a profitable one and avoid making the mistake that Crazy Horse in Singapore made? The answer lies in market research. The author went into pest management after finding out that most hospitality establishments in Singapore changed their pest control companies like the way people change their underwear. That’s because the service provided by most of these companies fall way below standards expected of them.

The author chose this niche because there was a desperate demand for better service and corporate clients were willing to pay a premium for it. The author gives us examples like Charles & Keith and Song of India restaurant - which I think are not totally appropriate as far as niche domination and providing something desperately needed are concerned.

Printed in large font at the beginning of Chapter 4, is the statement:

The bigger and more serious the problem, the more valuable your solution.

That’s very easy for us to agree with. Problems are everywhere. We identify those problems and solve them. We differentiate ourselves by doing things differently and better, charging more for it. To be a leader, one must also charge leading fees and provide top notch service. Not only that, one must dress and act like the industry leader, also making sure that employees are well-groomed and company vehicles well-polished.

The next few chapters further support the author’s belief in going all out to stand on top of all competitors. Networking is important. It’s not just who you know but who knows you. Get testimonials. Get awards. Overcome customer resistance with guarantees. Be a good leader to your staff. Scout for and retain talented people. Empower them. Implement new technology and ride on the next wave.

Even long before the book finishes, the astute reader should have realised that there are not too many secrets in this book. It may make him wonder why he’s spent $32.55 (before discount) on it. One of the reasons for the author’s success in his niche must have something to do with his less well-educated competitors. Better able to upgrade himself and acquire new skills and technology ahead of his competitors, it’s less difficult for him to outwit, outsell and outperform his competition.

Well, I guess even this “secret” is an open one. We are seeing more and more graduates engaged in businesses traditionally handled by the academically challenged. I know a temple medium who speaks fluent English. With so many intelligent competitors who have as much access to cutting edge technology and an equal ability to learn new things from developed countries, it won’t be long before it becomes impossible for to rise above a level playing field unless someone has an unfair advantage (e.g. rental-free father’s shop) to begin with.

This book has not been a waste of time for me. I don’t expect too much from self help books these days, but the author’s long road to success is an inspiring one. I admire what the author has done even though very few of those who have read the book will be able to achieve the same.

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