Being a small business owner can be a lonely proposition. You work long hours with little guidance and few people to commiserate with. Oh for a wise, understanding mentor who could feel your pain and help you avoid common pitfalls.
Enter your new friend and mentor Sarel Gous. Gous is a successful small business owner who became a small business consultant in 1996. The frank title of his book — Don’t “Bleeping” Do That: How NOT to Manage a Small Business — indicates Gous’ no-nonsense style.
Gous is a straight talker who isn’t interested in spreadsheets and business proposals so much as commonsense advice on the challenges – lifestyle and business – that confront small business owners. His tone is that of a father addressing a son: “Don’t be so damned stubborn,” he tells readers in the first sentence of the chapter titled “Stubbornness.” “Don’t ever underestimate the influence family have [sic] in the success of your company,” he says in another titled “Influence of Your Spouse.”
The brief chapters cover topics ranging from managing emotions (“fear is the most destructive emotion that we have”) to business strategy (don’t allow more than 50% of your turnover business to come from one company) to navigating spousal landmines (avoid the “high-maintenance spouse”). And he delivers it all with geniality and humor.
The book’s main drawback is Gous’ odd emphasis on sex. While clearly office affairs can sink ships, Gous returns to the theme of sex in at least three chapters, one of which seems irrelevant to business concerns. In addition, when writing about marriage, he typically (though not always) addresses men about “wives,” rather than talking about spouses in gender-neutral ways. This lends a dated feel to his familial cautions.
That said, this book is a breezy read chock full of useful, down-home advice. In the difficulty journey of building a small business, Gous is a frank, amiable guide worthy of a reader’s time and respect.