Tycoon is very much as you would expect, a selection of anecdotes and business guidance that provides some insight into the starting of a business.
Clearly, Jones has some prowess in business and his reputation as a no nonsense businessman, as demonstrated on Dragon’s Den, does not fully extend to this book.
There are some excellent points made and it is a good read for anyone intending to start a new enterprise, but should not be considered as a complete manual for becoming a Tycoon. An interesting and entertaining book but rarely profound despite the tips that litter the text.
Chapter 1 – Ten Golden Rules
Miraculously there are 10 golden rules to follow to become a Tycoon. This is clearly more about marketing and memory than there being only ten rules to success. Jones suggests these rules are:
- Have a vision
- Use your influence
- Build your confidence
- Make a commitment
- Take action
- Aim for results
- Get your timing right
- Be caring
- Use your intuition
These rules seem almost self evident and are expanded on in the rest of the chapter.
Chapter 2 – Put Your Imagination to Work
Jones suggests that imagination is critical to business success. I agree that imagination allows you to be more creative in how you solve the problems you encounter, but statistically, very few businesses start with a single ‘big idea’. Most begin by finding a problem that a customer is experiencing and then solving that problem. Richard Branson routinely finds a sector that is poorly serviced and creates a business that serves the customer better. Not a big new idea, but an old idea more effectively applied.
Having said that Jones has 10 Steps to put your imagination to work:
- Fire up your imagination – be open to stimuli
- Create your vision – Have a fully coloured and textured picture of the outcome you want
- Understand the difference between imagination and fantasy – imagination has a touch of realism, fantasy a touch of surrealism
- Find the missing pieces – search out that which fills the gaps
- Relish your freedom – make time to dream
- Embrace change and learning – both are key to success
- Give your idea substance – add body to your idea framework
- Feel the power – have tools and techniques to support the idea
- Inspire others – tell stories that engage the listener
- Take it for a test run – use your imagination to see how your idea survives
The bottom line is: Imagination + Vision + Action = Results
Chapter 3 – What’s the Big Idea?
Jones outlines the fact that a successful business is the result of many variables working together. If those factors are in support of a great idea then success is more likely. This chapter suggests a number of exercises to give you idea a ‘workout’:
- Is the idea innovative? Has it been done before?
- How difficult is it to implement?
- Have you got the right balance of feedback?
- What is its appeal?
- How big is the opportunity?
- Can you protect the idea?
- Is it internationally appealing?
- What is your gut feeling about the success?
Ultimately, it is your passion that will need to drive the idea forward into a successful business so ensure you are passionate about it.
Chapter 4 – Planning and Pitching
Planning and pitching are the ways in which you fully prepare the business processes and finances ready for the start.
Jones has a short checklist that he likes to see in a pitch:
- An engaging pitch that interests
- Is it an impressive innovative idea?
- Convincing financial analysis
- Proven business acumen and sales ability
- A clear definition of the market opportunity
- A clear plan of how to achieve the results
- An understanding of the risks involved
- An understanding of potential rewards
- A grasp of benefits to the customer
These ideas form the basics of a pitch and also the backbone of a business plan.
Chapter 5 – Ignition: Making it Happen
Ignition is a word that Jones chose carefully to indicate that the idea is launched with energy a drama. He further extends the metaphor by listing a number of missions that lead to success:
- Prepare, focus and commit – in the moment of action providence moves too
- Devise an exit plan – Begin with the end in mind and then you will know when you are successful
- Develop a strategy and action plan
- Get the logistics right – delivery is critical to success
- Kick start your sales and marketing
- Make it happen
Jones suggests the following checklist for success:
- Do you have a name for your business?
- Have you notified the authorities?
- Have you chosen the business type?
- Have you an exit strategy?
- Do you know what investment you need?
- Where do you need to spend the money?
- Have you done the financial planning?
- Do you know the likely return on investment?
- Have you confirmed that your idea is different?
- Do you know the unique selling points?
- Do you know the market sector?
- Have you evaluated the competition?
- Have you written a business plan?
- Have you raised finances?
- Have you gained the knowledge and experience you need?
- Are you ready to commit to action?
- Do you believe in your business and yourself?
- Are there any weaknesses in your idea?
- Do you know your strengths and weaknesses?
- Is the timing right?
- Do you have the relevant health and safety issues covered?
- Are you ready to learn from mistakes?
- Are you feeling motivated?
- Do you know the difference between revenue and profit?
Chapter 6 – Building Your Future
Jones repeats the observation that Michael Gerber stated in his book ‘The E-Myth’ that you have to work both in your business and on your business. He suggests the following steps to ensure you remain on top of your business:
- Act as a leader – Set a good example and let other follow it.
- Harness people power – having a strong team around you allows you focus on your strengths.
- Manage Change – you will be growing a business from scratch so change will be a constant companion.
- Pursue and Accelerate Growth – ensure you grow in a sustainable way.
- Evaluate and review results regularly – SWOT, regular reporting, stretch beyond your comfort zone to ensure you check your progress.
- Stay on top of the cashflow – profit is immaterial if you haven’t the cash to run your company day to day.
- Build relationships – people do business with those they know and like.
- Focus on customer service – if the customer is happy, you will keep them for the long term.
- Don’t rest on your laurels – no matter how successful you are, you need to maintain focus on satisfying your customers and running your business.
- Continue listening and learning – You never stop learning and growing as a person and if you continue to grow, so will your business.
Chapter 7 – My Time on TV
This chapter seems very out of place other to give Jones a place to brag about his television projects. It offers no real learning value other than to reinforce some elements of the early chapters of the book.
The key lessons from Jones’ TV career are:
- Set goals and work towards achieving them.
- Give yourself credit – If you’ve committed to a goal, persevere.
- Keep moving forward toward achieving your goals.
- Persevere and stay determined.
- Stay flexible to adjust your approach in order to meet your goals.
- Believe and you will achieve.
Some of Peter Jones’ personality does come through in Tycoon . At times you can almost superimpose his voice in the words you read. Other parts of the book seem more ghost writer than Jones. Despite the mismatch of styles, there are some business ideas and common sense, relevant to those interested in starting a business. It is not a tedious read and I found it interesting and motivating if somewhat twee and highly repetitive of other business start up books.