Book Review: The Knack

The Knack by Norm Brodsky and Bo Burlingham is a must read for all small business owners and would-be entrepreneurs. Loaded with need-to-know information, this book gives straightforward, invaluable advice and walks its audience through real life situations that can help the astute reader to avoid the most common pitfalls of business development.


One recurring bit of sage advice was “Business is a means to an end.  Do a life plan before you make your business plan.”   Brodsky advises that you should prepare for a “long-term commitment.”   In doing your first business plan he lists four questions that should be answered as honestly as possible:

  • “What is the concept?”
  • “How are you going to market it?”
  • “How much do you think it will cost to produce and deliver what you’re selling?”
  • “What do you expect will happen when you actually go out and start making sales?”

Creating a good business plan will require a lot of research.  Doing your homework is another major ingredient to success.  Being able to speak passionately and knowledgeably about your business can be powerfully persuasive and completely necessary when explaining your concept to investors or potential clients.


In the “X Factor” chapter, the authors’ advice can be summed up in one word:  Perseverance.  Rome wasn’t built in a day (or even a week), and thus the average entrepreneur can expect to put in several years of focused, dedicated sweat equity before taking a rest. One of the most important messages within this book is the idea of having an inherent ability to not give up when the going gets tough.

Along with perseverance, a successful entrepreneur must have an innate aptitude to sense customers’ needs and the flexibility to adjust accordingly.  Brodsky and Burlingham bring home that point in the chapter “Keeping and Losing Customers,” where they describe a complete failure in public relations and a really good save.

Internal customers are equally important to the success and failure of a business. The authors explain that “Your company’s culture can be your most powerful tool for finding and keeping great employees.”  This is beautifully illustrated in the retelling of Elsa the cat and her missing kittens, as it brings home how important the culture of a business is, and how seemingly unrelated moments can define a company’s culture.

If this sounds like the book for you, you may check it out from the East Baton Rouge Parish Library.

Written by Cynthia Payton