Ones To Grow On

Business feeling sluggish? Here are some books to help it grow big and strong.
Magazine Contributor
4 min read

This story appears in the April 2001 issue of Entrepreneurs Start-Ups magazine. Subscribe »

Many entrepreneurs want to grow their businesses, but they don't know how. Others feel conflicted about growth or even about the goals of business in general. Still others lack the innovative ideas that can power growth. All of them can benefit from this trifecta of approaches and plans for growing businesses.

Business As Unusual

Anita Roddick may have been the only internationally known entrepreneur participating in protest lines at 1999's World Trade Organization meeting, but The Body Shop founder has never marched to the orthodox rhythm. From opening her first natural beauty products store in 1976 through growing it to more than 1,700 outlets across the globe, Roddick has consistently done the unexpected. So to have her marching around downtown Seattle shoulder-to-shoulder with anti-WTO demonstrators, as recounted in her new book, is eminently believable.

Roddick's second memoir is more than an inspirational tale of success against convention. It's also chock-full of advice for mainstream business owners. And for all her radicalism, Roddick is revealed as a pragmatic entrepreneur with an ability to assimilate easily when necessary. For example, early on she negotiated with a bank officer while shod in sandals and towing two small children. The banker wasn't impressed, and her loan request was rejected. Undaunted, she quickly returned to the bank better-clad, accompanied by her suit-wearing husband and a business plan. She received the loan. You don't have to turn deathly pale at the thought of animal testing to get that lesson.

Business As Unusual is available at

The Art Of Innovation

(Doubleday/Currency Books)

The Art Of Innovation

It's virtually impossible to read Tom Kelley's rousing stories of innovation without thinking "Gee, I bet I could design a great new product." Kelley is general manager of IDEO, a Silicon Valley company that's designed many renowned products, including the Palm V. The book outlines how you, too, can generate good ideas.

Kelley describes an innovation engine that anybody can run but that is also distinctly counterintuitive. For instance, he says the myth of the lone creative genius is exactly that-a myth. And the best sources of innovation are groups of designers. Your group needs a mix of irreverence, total dedication to results, diversity and other traits. The book is full of similarly detailed tips, thoroughly explained and illustrated with examples. If there exists a great idea in your company, Kelley will help you discover it.

The Art Of Innovation is available at

Fast Growth

(Dearborn Trade)

Fast Growth

Laurence G. Weinzimmer's book is a rarity-a deeply researched, impeccably organized, accessibly written book that irrefutably upsets conventional thinking about a crucially important topic. The topic is growth-how to get it and keep getting it. The research consists of a decade's worth of studies of hundreds of firms, both fast- and slow-growing, with the goal of deciphering what promotes growth and what retards it. His main finding? No single trick, whether it's seeking market share or focusing on core competencies, generates sustainable growth. To grow and keep growing, he says, you have to do almost everything equally well.

Specifically, you should balance market, organizational and strategy catalysts. These three are further subdivided into, to take strategy as an example, incremental-growth strategies, leap-growth strategies and relationship strategies. Weinzimmer explains each in detail and finishes with an approach to implementing them all in a coordinated fashion. Straightforward, compelling and a fast read, Weinzimmer's book belongs on every growth-oriented entrepreneur's shelf.

Fast Growth is available at

What are you reading?

What Are You Reading?
Unleashing the Ideavirus (Do You Zoom Inc.) by Seth Godin

"I am continually seeking out information about the kind of consumers that Godin describes: the 'sneezers' who grab hold of concepts early and move them into the mainstream through sheer viral power. The ideas in this book are helping us better understand our target audiences. We are identifying the viral consumers and capturing their feedback."

-Pete Blackshaw, CEO and founder of, Cincinnati

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