The definitive handbook of how to succeed in business by really trying

Business Book Review

Minority Business Success
The definitive handbook of how to succeed in business by really trying

By Leonard Greenhalgh and James H. Lowry

Published by Stanford Business Books, 2011
an imprint of Stanford University Press
173 pages. No price is listed for individual copies but there is information on bulk sales.

Reviewed by Beatrice Williams-Rude

“Refocusing on the American Dream” is both the subtitle and the thrust of this book, which could be an indispensible tool for members of minority groups and women attempting to start businesses or further existing entities.

This well-written and meticulously researched tome by Leonard Greenhalgh, of the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth, and James H. Lowry, a senior advisor to the Boston Consulting Group, has a multifaceted target audience including minority/women business owners, would-be entrepreneurs, personnel in various government agencies charged with encouraging minority/women enterprises, advocacy groups, and private sector executives, which is to say “corporate America.”

Impediments to the entry and full participation in the business community by minorities and women are detailed and put into historical perspective. Possible solutions to the carefully considered problems are thoughtfully presented.

As I was reading this book, pen in hand, marking important passages, I came to see that I’d marked virtually every page, frequently in several places. There is little in this book that’s not important.

All of the issues are presented in the context of what is good for the nation as a whole, not simply for minority entrepreneurs. The price of the non-participation in the economy of those trapped in a cycle of poverty is borne by the community and includes, in addition to wasted talent and stunted lives, welfare, increased costs for police because of high crime rates, and for fire fighters because of improperly maintained buildings, and a tiny minute tax base.

It is in the interest of all of society that those who have been historically excluded from the world of commerce be included. In order for them to succeed thoughtful, reasonable steps must be taken, in the private sector as well as by the government (set-asides for minority/women suppliers, for example). The authors explain how frequently new entrepreneurs know their product well, but not how to run a business. They detail the means to overcome the problem.

They point to the impediments, many institutionalized, to MBEs (minority business entrepreneurs) entering the mainstream of American commerce. They detail the stages in the growth of a business and what is necessary at each. There is a work sheet so the budding entrepreneur can make his/her own calculations. Financial requirements are explained step by step as well as pitfalls to be avoided.

This is a cri de coeur on behalf of energetic, ambitious would-be business people who find their way to success blocked by those whose interest is in maintaining the status quo, hindered by duplicative paperwork (Multiple certification requirements are particularly burdensome), and frustrated by programs that were envisioned as helping but either are ignored, or just don’t work.

How does the nation benefit when those who’ve been excluded are helped to succeed? Most frequently local labor is used, reducing unemployment in what is most likely a depressed area; the tax base increases bringing better schools; the neighborhood improves thus enabling a better quality of life; the costs of subsidizing a non-productive sector are increasingly lessened as said sector increasingly becomes productive; as people get jobs, they spend more money, frequently in the neighborhood pumping life into the local economy.

The authors say that to succeed means to survive, prosper and grow to scale. They explain how a “value chain” works, how it’s no longer just business to business competition, but how a business is part of a value chain and how to become part of such a chain. A value chain is a vertically integrated entity, a supply line addressing everything from raw materials, components, the finished product and sales. The vertical integration is achieved by in-sourcing (what a company does itself, in-house) and out-sourcing (what a company does by engaging others via mergers, acquisitions, strategic partnerships, etc.) and how MBEs can benefit by becoming a part of such chains.

They cite chapter and verse about how and why current government-mandated, programs are leading to only limited success and how we must change the way we view the situation.

Greenhalgh and Lowry proclaim and explain at length why inclusion and success of MBEs should be a national priority. The benefits achieved would be far more than the prosperity of individual enterprises: there would be fine role models for youngsters who are frequently lost; less drug and alcohol abuse because there would be opportunity and hope; better neighborhoods with well maintained buildings and good schools.

This book is so important, so well thought out and researched and with the splendid Stanford imprimatur, it’s a pity that no copy editor or proof reader caught the misspelling of Hillary Clinton’s name, that “a minority was elected President” was allowed to stand instead being corrected to “a member of a minority group” (it could be argued that Rutherford B. Hayes and George W. Bush were “minority presidents in that both received fewer than the majority of votes); and that the word “thoughtless” was used instead of “unskilled” or “manual” referring to types of labor requiring little formal education. I hope this will all be corrected in the next edition, and it is my belief, and fond hope, that there will be another edition, and another and another.

Beatrice Williams-Rude
Editor/Book, Theater Reviewer/Researcher/Writer/Liaison
Reviewer for Broadway After Dark (Currently being reconfigiured)
Contributor to The Constant Columnist

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