Last week, I got a copy of Kevin Cope's new book, "Seeing the Big Picture: Business Acumen to Build Your Credibility, Career, and Company." This is a great primer on how to figure out the real way your business works - I'm talking about money and profitability.
I wish I'd had this book a year ago. I work for a company that was purchased by a private equity firm last year, and I've had to learn a lot of new things about the financial aspects of business, as they were thrown at me. A lot of what I learned e hard way is presented very clearly in this book - along with some additional information I'm sure I'll need in the near future. Do yourself a favor and learn about it before you need to apply it.
You see, a lot of us know the basics - "A business should bring in more than it costs to run the business." But there is a lot more beyond that to help us use real data to not only run our businesses, but improve them and make them sustainable and profitable in the long term.
Knowing the key elements
Kevin Cope does a great job of explaining aspects of the business in a very understandable way, whether you've got a financial background or not. The sections include:
Each of them is detailed in a way that unfolds very well - each section builds on the last, so you can better understand the relationships between these key elements of a business. He also does a great job of linking them so you can understand the interplay between these 5 elements.
Furthermore, Cope explains how to use and interpret some of the "artifacts" you'll encounter as you dig into the financials of a business, including how to read a balance sheet, how to interpret an income statement, and how to get real meaning out of financial reports.
One of the concepts I've had to learn about through hard knocks is EBITDA (Earnings Before Income Tax, Depreciation, and Amortization) which is a key indicator tracked by the private equity firm that owns my company. Cope explains this very succinctly in the book and relates it to the 5 elements, above.
Not just for managers
One of the things I love about this book is how relevant it is for anyone who wants to add value to the business they are involved in. This will add a lot of value for managers, but it will also help any individual contributor better understand how they can contribute to making the business more effective. In other words, if you want to figure out how and where you can add value to your company's success, this is a great book for you.
Cope also talks a lot about how you can use all of this information to make better decisions about your business - such as how you can make pod decisions about when to save earnings, when to reinvest them in the business, how to look after both short-term and long-term horizons for your business.
If you want to brush up on your financial acumen and learn some techniques to help you add more value to your business, grab a copy of "Seeing the Big Picture" - it's like a crash course MBA.