Perhaps Adam Brownlee should coin a new phrase: WWWBL.
In his new book, Brownlee, the former director of Western Kentucky University's Small Business Development Center, talks about "Building a Small Business that Warren Buffett Would Love."
Brownlee, who plans to try to get a copy of the book to Buffett at his investors meeting this summer, didn't interview Buffett for the book but studied the investment strategies that the Oracle of Omaha employed to turn an initial investment of $105,000 into a $40 billion fortune.
"It takes his methodology and applies it to small business," Brownlee said in a recent interview. "When I was at the Small Business Development Center, the question I always heard was: 'How do I make a good business?'
"All Warren Buffett is doing is identifying great businesses. His fundamentals are out there," Brownlee said. "All I said was: 'Here is the translation. These are the touchstones you can wire into your business.' "
On Page 2 of the book, he lays out what Buffett would say in looking for a good business: "I want to see a consumer monopoly, have a healthy return on equity and the ability to increase prices with inflation, among other things.
"A business without earnings ... is like a lawn mower without a lawn mower blade," Brownlee writes. "It may be fun to circle the yard a few times, but after awhile the grass needs cutting."
Brownlee said he tries to pepper the book with humor so that it's not such a dry read.
Under the category of "How to Build a Consumer Monopoly," he tells perspective entrepreneurs to inventory local companies and list their competitors and their differentiating aspects.
If there is already a McDonald's in town, how are you going to differentiate your hamburger stand?
Trying to produce a cheap burger won't work.
"Instead, you might offer a premium burger," he wrote.
Brownlee said that while small businesses can't begin to have the advertising budgets that their megachain competitors do, advertising is still important.
"I think newspaper advertising is still important for small businesses," he said.
But before a business even starts, planning and forecasting are key components in the preparation.
Brownlee's book includes a sample summary of one he uses. It includes having a vision and mission for the business, marketing, operational plan, financials and supporting documents, with subheads in each category.
That business plan should be a "living, breathing" document that is reviewed at least quarterly to see if you're on track, the book details.
"The bane of most entrepreneurs is the lack of business plan implementation," he wrote.
Brownlee said he hopes his book will give entrepreneurs the tools to do just that.
While the book is being sold through Barnes & Noble Booksellers, Amazon.com and other outlets, Brownlee hopes to give a book or an e-book to anyone unemployed through his One Million Jobs Campaign.
"It's kind of like the Toms Shoes campaign," he said.
That company, popular with the younger set, donates a pair of shoes to poor children for each one purchased.
How does someone unemployed become a business owner?
"If somebody doesn't have options ... they can get a part-time job, but spend the other 15 or 20 hours a week planning to start up something small they enjoy doing," Brownlee said.
That's what Brownlee said he's doing with his writing and business consulting.
"There are a lot of opportunities out there these days for authors," he said.
Brownlee has published three other financial-related books. He will present a workshop, followed by a signing of his new book, at 7 p.m. April 3 at Barnes & Noble. He also will be at the Southern Kentucky Book Fest on April 21.
-- For more information on the book, go to www.onemillionjobs
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