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How to turn your business into a hot commodity

By Mark Henricks

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

The details of how Barnett C. Helzberg Jr. sold thecompany his grandfather founded occupy only a small part ofWhat I Learned Before I Sold to WarrenBuffett (John Wiley & Sons, $24.95). The former CEO ofSt. Louis-based Helzberg Diamonds tells how he encountered Buffetton the street and impulsively proposed selling his company in a30-second pitch. He admits, without providing precise figures, thatBuffett paid only half what he asked for the 143-store chain. Helauds Buffett for his candor, wisdom and accomplishments. Then heleaves that topic to impart his own wisdom.

This unlikely setup results in a useful book. Helzberg sliceshis offering into 80 one- or two-page, easily digestible tidbitsdealing with hiring, leading, communicating, decision-making andgeneral management. Some are a trifle shopworn, like theadmonitions to focus on what you do best and motivate employeeswith recognition. But others offer unusual perspectives andoccasional real insight. One good tip, "Deal only withcontrollables," is based on Helzberg's memories of hisfather ignoring recessions, bad weather, national holidays andother ungovernable events while focusing forcefully on factors hecould control. Helzberg offers his sound advice on how todifferentiate your business, keep your ego in check, plan fordisaster, and otherwise build a business into a property even theworld's greatest investor can find irresistible.

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