Archive for May, 2011

The Benevolent Dictator

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-fills 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 Benevolent DictatorThe 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.

The Benevolent Dictator is available in Amazon and all good book stores.

Disclosure: This book was gifted to me as a pre-launch copy, no affiliate links, no payment or requirement to review have been made.

Getting Irish Businesses Online

This morning Google announced a new project called “Getting Irish Businesses Online”. I was fortunate enough to be included in Googles case study as an example how Zatori has successfully mastered the e-commerce experience.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny popped over to Googleplex Dublin for the launch with two other ministers, which shows great support and intent for Irish businesses.
Getting Irish Businesses Online - Press launch

The atmosphere was refreshingly positive with a mix of fledgling entrepreneurs and industry experts, mingling alongside Googlers, politicians and the obligatory press and twitterati.

The initiative designed to get more business moving into the digital market place online and to start doing more business via online. Blacknight are offering free .ie, .eu or .com domains for a year, hosted and there is a basic website site creator tool available for those who want to get a quick online presence. I’ve been told it takes an average user with no experience in design about 20 mins to set a site up with the tool, which is impressive by any measurements.

Google Getting Businesses Online - Ronan O'BrienGoogles Get Business Online Project

Featured in the Photo’s (to the left) Ronan Harris, Director of Sales at Google Ireland and (below) Brendan Harris of Dillion Solicitors with myself.

Hopefully this initiative along with some talks arranged by the local enterprise boards will add a huge amount of new businesses to the online sector in Ireland. I’d strongly suggest for those that are in business with no online presence and could benefit from one that they should take advantage of the immense opportunity this program and hopefully with the power of Google behind the project you can learn from the best in the different fields of going online. I’m hoping to get involved with speaking at some of the events in the different regions and if possible I’ll try to make sure that they get put up online so that the most people possible can benefit.

In the mean time check out the site and what’s on offer.