To me this book is really about the 80/20 of business. Those few core elements that if you get right then you're running a fundamentally sound business, equally if you don't, no matter what you do you're in trouble.
Many small business owners get stuck in what Perry Marshall called 'bright, shiny object syndrome', where you're always reaching for new distractions that you think will boost your business, without doing the simple things right. Norm Brodsky brings you through those simple things in a very easily readable narrative, focusing on case studies of his own successes and failures as well as those of the people who he gave advice through the years. It's about the importance of key numbers in your business, but also equally the psychology behind your decisions and actions.
He's quite up front about his own failures and character flaws, and writes in a warm, relaxed and confident tone of a man who's been there and done that and has little to prove, least of all to himself. It makes for easy reading, but there's value in there.
Seemingly this book sprang from a popular column in Inc Magazine, but thankfully it doesn't feel like a couple of dozen articles stretched over 250 pages, a trap some fall into. In fact he neatly slides excerpts from his 'Ask Norm' column into relevant case studies. He's very balanced, broad and empathetic in his descriptions and analysis of himself, his competitors and those he gave advice to.
To conclude each chapter he does a little bullet point reminder of principles he's just explored. Some might find this a little over-simplistic but for me it was a welcome addition. It might have benefited further by expanding that to explicit actionable tasks to analyse one's own business. Maybe that would be asking too much.
To sum up, it was an enjoyable read, and I still managed to gain insights in spite of already having read dozens of business books. Get it, it's well worth the price!