Foreword by
Ken Blanchard, Ph.D.

How many times have you heard the phrase, “That’s what it’s all about?” Those five words are as overused as any in the English languageand can refer to anything from sinking a 30-foot putt to seeing a newborn baby for the first time.

You are about to come face to face to those words once again. Because if you own a small business or plan to begin a new venture in the future, this book is what small business is all about!

COMMON SENSE BUSINESS is an energizing, inspiring, provocative personal “letter” to you from my friend and co-author of The On-time, On-Target Manager, Steve Gottry. In fact, until now, I had never seen so much solid business advice dispensed in a single book.

Steve will carefully guide you through the seven stages of the small business “life cycle”from the Dreaming Stage, through the Growth Stage, all the way to the Selling/Divesting Stage.

Next, he will teach you how to build a successful, ongoing organization by taking advantage of your strengthsbeginning with your own personal skills and goals, then capitalizing on your employees as well as on your customers and vendors. You will be able to construct solid, lasting “people-oriented” relationships by discovering how to avoid the pitfalls that have led to disaster for countless entrepreneurs.

Finally, Steve will reveal the secrets that will help you conquer the “natural enemies” of any business venture. As I read this section of the book, I realized that my company has faced many of these challenges, and we have had to overpower them in order to survive the many ups and downs of our economy.

The bottom line is, this stuff goes far beyond mere theory. There are no “maybes” in this book. Follow Steve’s sound advice and your business will be successful. Ignore it, and your hopes and dreams could become rubble at your feet.

But, as they say “there’s more!” There is another dimension of this book that caught me completely off guardand that’s the intensely personal, candid nature of Steve’s story.

Steve lost a very successful small businessone that he built from scratch with nothing more than a dream, strong desire and a small handful of cash. He lost it because, somewhere along the line, he lost sight of his primary focus. He got taken up with the evidence of success, rather than the elements of success. He freely admits that in this book, so I’m not betraying his trust in any way.

The result of his decisionsas well as the impact of some other unfortunate factors that he will share with youled to the failure of his business.

Please notice that I used the word “failure” instead of “bankruptcy.”

Despite the advice of many of his business advisors, Steve made the firm decision to pay off all of his debts through a combination of cash payments and the bartering of his creative work. It took him eight years to settle all of his debts1993 to 2001but he did it!

How does he feel about that accomplishment? “It’s the only decision that I could have made,” he told me. “I’ve been stuck for tens of thousands of dollars by a number of my clients in the past, so I knew how it felt. I didn’t want to do that to anyone else.”

How do Steve’s past creditors feel about what he accomplished? Here’s an excerpt from a letter he received from one vendor after Steve sent in his final payment on his old debt: “I consider myself fortunate to have known a man of your integrity. I have dealt with thousands of people since 1965 and I can honestly say, I don’t think any one of them would have paid a bill six years after leaving the state. You have restored my faith in humanity and you stand head and shoulders above anyone I have ever done business with. If you ever come back to the Twin Cities area, please give me a call and I would be honored to take you to lunch.”

Throughout this book, Steve will share both his greatest failures and his most significant achievements in a sincere desire to help you become as successful as you can be.

As I read about his many triumphs and setbacks, something remarkable occurred to me. Steve Gottry’s biggest failure is also his greatest success. This may seem to be a paradox, but it’s absolutely true. It became clear that Steve indeed possesses two enviable qualities that would empower every businessperson who aspires to succeed. They are Tenacity and Integrity.

This book is about both. Clearly, confidently and completely. 

Helen Keller, who overcame the handicap of being born both blind and deaf, once said, “Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experiences of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, vision cleared, ambition inspired and success achieved.”

That quotation is framed and has a permanent home on Steve’s desknot only because he truly knows what it meansbut also because he believes it applies in his own life in a highly personal way.

My challenge to you is, read this book! Read every page. Contemplate every word. Learn from every sentence. Find a nugget of truth and success in every chapter. COMMON SENSE BUSINESS is Steve’s heartfelt gift to you. Accept it with gratitude!

Ken Blanchard
Escondido, California
June, 2005

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Common Sense Business is a publication of HarperBusiness, a division of HarperCollins Publishers

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