Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Zilch - The Power of Zero in Business

I read an awesome book by Nancy Lublin called Zilch - The Power of Zero in Business.

I have a lot of respect for Nancy from the charity she started called Dress for Success. Normally I have a negative reaction to dressing for success and tend to like to understate (OK I am not a good dresser). Part of this is my frugal nature. Partly it allows me to learn more from people. And partly I like to be comfortable and partly I just like to be me rather than wear a prescribed costume at a prescribed price point.

Dress for Success supplies outfits for women who are looking for work who would not otherwise be able to afford them. So this Dress for Success is different.

Nancy uses examples of how non-profit charities can do a lot with almost nothing. And it is amazing if you think about it. Many companies want to get people to be more engaged on the job and think this means they need to pay more. Charities get engagement and they do not even pay.

Staff are inspired to work for a great company. Ideally with a noble purpose. I have seen this. Poorly run companies have to pay more to keep people generally.

She is an advocate of social media. Because it is new, it tends to be the most cost effective way to market things. I have seen the power of social media in non-profit fundraising.

She believes in brand as a way to extend reach. Good brand is an intangible that has great value but really does not cost much (or can cost a lot depending how you do it).

She believes in creating ambassadors. Malcolm Gladwell would call these Mavens and Connectors. Basically be awesome so people do your selling for you and refer people to you.

Having started a business from zero, I have a keen appreciation for what she is saying. There is power in having little. I have seen this often in venture capital and start up situations. If the cash is too available - it gets spent. I even often suggest to entrepreneurs to either not raise money (just grow within profitability) or raise less.

The book is well written and easy to read. The stories she intersperses keep it interesting and at times funny. At the end of each chapter are a list of questions to spur thought.

And my time management tip of the day which flows from Zilch is "owning things costs time".


At 8:17 AM, Blogger GPS to GO said...

I am torn about that as well - growing within profitability -as I can see a HUGE market for my Alzheimers Tracker- What GPS to GO is going to do is a marketing idea "The Family Project" The idea is a simple one, send out a bunch of our GPS family trackers to families or groups with those special needs we so often work with- let them try- test & blog -comment -experiment ect with this little device and see what we all learn from the experience.

Families, friends, parents, siblings, groups or associations ect far and wide can contact us and tell us what they're hoping to get out of the chance to test this product.

Each family, group or whomever is testing the unit can keep the unit and run it through it's paces for about 30 days untill it's time to pass it along to the next group as chosen by the participants and approved by us a GPS to GO.


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