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Reviewed by Phong Nguyen

BookYap’s Review:  TRACTION – Get a Grip on Your Business

Chapter 1: The Entrepreneurial Operating System (EOS): Strengthening the Six Key Components

TRACTION: BookYap ReviewIn a small startup or business venture, the founder or co-founders often take on multiple roles in the business’ day to day operation. Thus, their to-do list keeps getting longer if you don’t catch up fast enough, while there are many other things to worry about. In this chapter, the author explained the Entrepreneurial Operating System (EOS) which simplified things to 6 components that made up important factors in the organization’s operation.

In this section, the author briefly highlighted what each of these 6 components entailed with detail explanations in the following chapters. I do recognize the importance of these 6 components as the fundamental facts of any business operation: Vision, People, Data, Issues, Process, and Traction. If you want to run an efficient organization, this is the book you should read. I would say, by reading this first chapter you should know whether this book is for you or not.

Chapter 2: Letting Go of The Vine

This chapter explains five leadership abilities that you need to practice and establish in your business to reach your goals while you evolve and grow. They are: Simplify, Delegate, Predict, Systemize, and Structure.

While recently working on a new business I started not long ago, I implemented these 5 factors into the new business. My goal is to set up this business in a way that it can operate even if I’m off on vacation for a month. A person who I think has mastered this concept, is Mr. Warren Buffet. With about 20 employees in his office, he has been able to command several large companies successfully, remotely, for many years.

A key take away I took from this chapter is: no matter how smart or knowledgeable you are at many things, the ultimate business capabilities can only be achieved when you simplify your business system so you can delegate the tasks to be done so people can do their jobs effectively, and collectively push toward your goals. Don’t be a jack of all trades, be a talent allocator instead. By the way, another great book I would recommend related to this topic is Multiplier: How the Best Leaders Make Everyone Smarter by Liz Wiseman.

Chapter 3: The Vision Component: Do they see what you are saying?

This chapter does a good job of showing you how to share your vision for the business with your team members and keep it current and relevant as your company moves forward. After a decade of working through the school-of-hard-knocks as an entrepreneur with employees on the payroll, I know how important it is to your success to get your team to understand and believe in your vision early on.

One good saying goes like this: You need to see it in your head first in order to make it the reality. And, since the success of your business depends on the contribution of all team members, you also need them to see that vision and try your best to get them to buy into the idea from the start. It might be okay for outsiders to think you’re crazy pursuing your vision, but those on the inside must believe.

Chapter 4: The People Component: Surround yourself with good people.

There is a saying: “It only takes 1% of effort to hire someone, but 99% of effort to manage that person.” This statement is spot-on for those who run a startup, a small business or are in a managing role. To equip your business well for the many challenges ahead in the marketplace, you need to surround yourself with conscientious, capable people. This chapter will show you how to select and filter the right people for the right job.

One thing I find insightful from this chapter which startups and small businesses should know ahead of time is that, as their business grows, they should periodically review the role and effectiveness of each person. Then, adjust it accordingly, so each person’s contribution meets the expectations needed to meet goals and projected growth.

Chapter 5: The Data Component: Safety in Numbers

As a small business or startup, it is easy to be busy, but harder to be effective. This chapter teaches you a smart way to keep track of your effectiveness with numbers. Numbers are a universal language and may be easier for each of your team members to understand clearly. As we are merging into a more connected and international workforce than ever before, most likely you will work with someone whose native language is not English.

In fact, in the last decade, the majority of my co-workers and contractors are overseas. Even though sometimes their English communication skills are just average, we often communicate using numbers which helps us understand each other just fine. Thus, using numbers to align toward common goals is a great tool that entrepreneurs and managers should sharpen continually.

Chapter 6: The Issues Component: Decide!

Issues, problems, and challenges are what happen during day-to-day business operations. The more people in the business, often, the more problems. The best way to minimize problems is to learn how to recognize them ahead of time before they spiral out of control. I find this chapter very helpful in helping me identify some points I need to go over with my team to make our organization more transparent so we can recognize future issues much earlier than we do now.

Two other things I find very practical in this chapter are the 10 commandments of solving issues on page 141 and the IDS concept (identify, discuss, and solve). If you are an entrepreneur running your small business of 10-25 staff, to me, that is a perfect business size for you to implement these tips and see positive results much quicker.

Chapter 7: The Process Component

As the years go by, and I learn through working with partners, employees, and contractors, I have developed a higher respect and appreciation for the Core Process. I’ve come to realize that the key elements that make great managers are not just people management skills, but most importantly, the process management skill. Successful managers set up the type of system process that works like Lego, or Plug-and-play, so great work can continue even when they’re not present.

This Chapter explains a better way to set up your Core Process. From identifying it, to documenting it, to implementing it. If you are already working with a team of 10+ people, you would find some insights to help you improve, or even change, the way you work, to be more effective as well as efficient.

Chapter 8: The Traction Component

To me, this is the most exciting chapter. The authors show us how to break projects into small pieces, delegate accordingly, and track performance results. They make the 3-year work plan seem doable because it is systematic and organized. Emily Dickinson once said, “If you take care of the small things, the big things take care of themselves.” This chapter is all about practical steps you should take to make your 3-year goals much more achievable.

Chapter 9: Putting It All Together

This chapter provides an Organizational Checkup list (page 203 to 205) to help you rate each facet of your business operation. That way you’ll know which ones need to be adjusted, improved or changed completely, to avoid bigger problems down the road. I find the list very helpful because you can use it to review your company’s overall performance, quarterly or semi-annually. As the old saying goes, “What gets measured, gets done.”

Chapter 10: Getting Started

This is a short chapter that reviews the 7 main tools discussed in the previous chapter in more detail, to help you kick-start implementing what you have learned from this book. This book is written in a way that makes me feel I’m working with a coach, who lays things out in a way that is easy for me to understand.

The number one thing I like about this book is the idea of the Entrepreneur Operating System (EOS). However, this book does not go into detail in explaining the EOS system to give the readers a full picture. You have to read their other book, entitled “What The Heck Is EOS?” to get the full scope of it. That book is short, you can finish it in one or two sittings, and I highly recommend you read it.

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