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Building Better Business Book Club 

Reading, sharing insights, getting recommendations, staying informed.

Better Before Bigger by Nick Cramp

Better Before Bigger, Rethinking Business Success by Nick Cramp is a book designed for the owners and leaders of what Nick described as “adolescent” businesses.

I really like that description as it clarifies succinctly the nature of the businesses that this book is aimed at. It is in these businesses that Nick can make the biggest difference. If you run a business there will have been a time when it felt as though it was growing up, you were having to converse with older, more established businesses but without any of the experience, they had. It’s easy to get excited and try to do new things but your (in)experience can let you down. Alternatively, you decide to avoid taking action just in case it fails.

Nick’s book has been well designed and provides clear ideas and techniques that are both thought-provoking and challenging. His chapters always include a section on the key takeaways and some exercises to help embed the learning that he is providing from his experience. The key message in the book is to be in a position to scale before you do.

Broadly, the book is written in three sections. in the first section, Nick explains why we can feel frustrated or disappointed in the performance of our businesses. He then moves on to describe six critical components that need to be in place before you can successfully scale the business. Components that must be applied across the whole organisation, as they are reliant upon inter-departmental and inter-dependent working by everyone in the business.

As you read the book Nick encourages us to reflect on his ideas and recommends that as readers we make commitments to action to turn those practical ideas into a reality that will work within our own business. He asks what we will start, stop, do more of, and do less of. (I’d add that I think it’s important also explicitly to note what you plan to leave the same).

Finally, in his closing chapter, Nick encourages us to take conscious action. He suggests 10 specific commitments. As an experienced Risk Manager, I particularly liked his suggestion to become bolder, especially given his clarification of that as “regain the bravery you had when you started out ” in business, we have to take risks and we should take those risks intentionally and based on a proper assessment of the opportunities, probabilities of success and an understanding of the possible downsides. In other words, take calculated risks.

Nick is an experienced coach and the questions that he poses in this book demonstrate his skills in that area. Some deceptively straightforward questions encourage us to think deeply about the consequences of all of the possible answers for us, in the circumstances of our own particular business. That is a deceptive skill that only a few of the best have. If you have a growing business, and if that business is not delivering the success you believe it deserves, then this book will help you to unlock both the causes and the solution to that issue. I hope you enjoy reading it as least as much as I did.