Book Review: Who Not How

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If you’re starting out as a solo, whether you’re a writer a lawyer a consultant, or whatever, Who Not How may be the most important book you can read if you want to have both a successful business and a successful life. Here’s why I think that’s true.

Most people who go solo don’t start their business with bales of venture capital. Instead, we fund those first lean weeks or years with credit cards, second mortgages, and the forbearance of our friends. We’re lean by necessity.

Naturally, in the beginning, we do just about everything ourselves. That’s good and necessary, but it can create a bad habit that’s reinforced by society.

American culture lauds individual achievement. In school, we’re graded individually. The virtue of self-reliance is high on our list. The problem is that to grow and prosper we need to break that habit of “self-reliance at any price” and quit trying to do it all.

When we face a new challenge, the need for a new website, for example, we naturally ask, “how can I do this?” We spend time climbing a learning curve to get to an acceptable level of performance. Asking, “who could help me with this” or who can do this for me” can make our businesses more successful and our life more satisfying. Let me share two examples from my business.

I have a virtual assistant. Her name is Brenda, and she does a variety of administrative tasks that I used to do myself. She does them better, more consistently, and more efficiently than I would. And the fact that she does them frees me up to do the things I do best and contribute most to the success of my business.

Another example. For years I did my bookkeeping. I learned bookkeeping for the first job I got after I left the Marines. I did OK with a paper-based system. But I decided that I wanted to take advantage of what technology had made possible, so I bought QuickBooks. First, I tried to master it. The bookkeeping part wasn’t a problem. But learning about and implementing the automated functions of the program frustrated me. 

When I realized what was happening, I engaged a QuickBooks consultant to help me set the program up and review my books every quarter. The result: I used to spend frustrating hours not getting things quite right. Now, I spend about 15 minutes a day and an hour at the end of the month on my accounting.

Both Brenda and my QuickBooks consultant do things that I’m capable of. But they do them better, and, because they do them, I have more time and bandwidth to spend on coaching people as they write their books. That’s what I’m good at and what I get paid for. And using others for those tasks frees up time for me to spend on recreation, recovery, and relationships. Those things make life sweet.

If you’re a solo, that’s why you should buy Who Not How, read it, and put it to work. I suggest you buy the audio version, even if you also buy a print or ebook version. The audio version has some interviews with Dan Sullivan that don’t appear in the other versions. They will add value to your experience. 

In a Nutshell

If you’re a solo, buy Who Not How: The Formula to Achieve Bigger Goals Through Accelerating Teamwork by Dan Sullivan and Benjamin Hardy Then read it and put the book’s lessons to work.

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