Improve Your Business By Reading

The New Year is often a time of reflection. It’s a great time to question what you are doing and what you could be doing better. This year I’m learning how to be a better manager and to delegate my work and focus on strategy.

I’ve also been doing a lot of reading lately about sales, marketing and management, and wanted to pass along some great articles I’ve recently read.

First up is Don’t just roll the dice: A usefully short guide to software pricing by Neil Davidson. Pricing can be difficult to get right and this book is an excellent primer on the subject. Even if you think you already know everything about pricing, I recommend you read the book. You’ll be reminded of things you already know, but may have forgotten. If you are short on time, you can read Darmesh Shah’s review, How To Price Software Without Just Rolling the Dice. Though it really is no substitute for reading the book; Neil details all the dimensions of pricing, while Darmesh covers only a few basic principles.

Next is the Bessemer’s Top 10 Laws for Cloud Computing and SaaS by Bessemer Venture Partners. If you are pressed for time, you can check out the summary article on Though the gooey good stuff is in the long descriptions of each law which are only in the full version. Even if you don’t run a SaaS business, the advice is valuable and can be used either directly, or easily translated. “Law #2: Getting Instrument Rated” can apply to any business, though the specific metrics might be different. “Law #3: Study the Sales Learning Curve and Only Invest behind Success” provides excellent advice on when to scale out a sales force. I also recommend checking out Bessemer Venture’s Cloud Computing portal, where you can read the rules on the web and links to white papers and other presentations on running a cloud computing business.

A sister article to Bessemer’s article is Ten Laws for SaaS Sales & Marketing Success by Dave Chase and Matt Heinz. It provides specific sales and marketing steps that should be taken to create effective growth of almost any business.

For those who like short and sweet, check out Darmesh Shah’s Startup Advice in Exactly Three Words, a collection of three-word sentences providing advice to startup businesses.

Finally, the articles on Mind Tools are fantastic and highly recommended. Focused around personal and professional development, the articles teach skills related to leadership, problem solving, project management, time management, stress management, communication, creativity and memory. Unlike other sites, these articles provide concrete techniques for developing skills. If there is one site that has helped the development of my professional skills, it has been this one.

Before I wrap up, one last link: LiquidPlanner. It a web-based project management tool. I’ve only been using it a week, but after evaluating half a dozen different to-do list and project management tools, this one won out. It allows for task planning by breaking down work into smaller and smaller tasks using a nested folder structure, easy delegation to other individuals, automatic scheduling based on priorities and resource management to see when people are overscheduled. The latter is something I plan to use on myself to make sure I don’t overcommit. By entering time estimations for all my tasks, I can quickly see when I’m trying to schedule too much into any given week. Anyone who needs to manage others, or even just themselves, would do well to look into this tool.

That’s all for now. I hope these links were useful. Please post in the comments any additional links I may have missed.

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