Is your business too big to be considered as a small business and too small to be considered big?
Then this book is written for you. No Man's Land: Where Growing Companies Fail by Doug Tatum, is a magnificent book about the crucial period of time in the life of a business that may be even harder than the start. Any business owner should read this, for every business will most probably at some point enter “no man’s land”, if they have not already.
Doug Tatum is a financial and tech consultant that has gone through what he refers to as “no man’s land” - the period in the life of a business that falls between being a start-up and before being considered a big business. Tatum has more than 15 years of experience in business and he created a pattern in thousands of companies all over America. He made a commitment to help future entrepreneurs overcome this important roadblock.
So, when is a business in “no man’s land?” Generally, it is when it has reached the 20-employee mark. This is the time when 90% of companies fail. Doug Tatum offers a “map” to help you determine the current location of your business so you can further benefit from the rock-solid advice he shares later on.
The book is designed to get you through this difficult stage. It is filled with rules, guidance and some well-chosen case studies. It presents in detail the shift in habits and practices that you have to make in order to face new challenges and situations, and build an efficient system.
Not every business is able to make the leap from start-up to big business, though. A venture built around an entrepreneur or around a human-scale concept will not be able to be economically viable later on, and Tatum helps to determine if this is the case with your business. For example, do you have the right people? Small businesses about to make the leap have the people they started with, but are these the best ones? The kind that you will want around when the business goes into the next stage?
“No man’s land” exists in every company and the author explains that the direction your company takes once in this stage is not entirely your fault. He advises to stop blaming yourself and gives you some golden insights on what you should be doing instead, including how to maintain quality and customer service while the business grows. Maybe being big is not the answer for you, and the author gives a few examples of “Small Giants” - businesses that chose to remain small.
In the first few chapters, Tatum discusses the four M’s: market, management, model and money. According to the author, in order to make the leap you have to align with the market you serve, have competent management, change the business model as the times change and realize that it takes money to make money. He gives a list of critical structural, legal and financial decisions you must make and destroys the idea that having more capital will solve all your problems. He also talks about the fifth M, momentum, which is needed in order to be able to go through “no man’s land.”
The book can be used as a guide for getting over this difficult time or it can help you decide whether you would like to grow your business or to stay small. Each one of these choices will impact your business structure in the long-term and if you wish to avoid the pattern that 90% of the companies in the world go through, you will want to make use of the advice in the book.
An easy read, No Man’s Land by Doug Tatum mentions some chilling statistics that will make you think more in depth about your venture and you can treat it as a personal management consultant. A small investment to help you make a lot more money in return.