Book Review February 2008
Instant Income: Strategies That Bring in the Cash for Small Businesses, Innovative Employees, and Occasional Entrepreneurs
Author: Janet Switzer
ISBN 13: 978-0-07-148778-8; ISBN 10: 0-07-148778-6
Reviewed by Soroya Brantley
Janet Switzer’s guide Instant Income: Strategies That Bring in the Cash for Small Businesses, Innovative Employees, and Occasional Entrepreneurs describes the strategies and concepts she has developed over the past 20 years in helping small businesses to exploit their true cash potential.
Part One discusses “Strategies That Bring in the Cash,” with the first chapter focusing on the customer. Tactics such as keeping track of customer buying patterns and calling to take reorders keep the customer from shopping around and possibly purchasing from another vendor, Switzer argues. In essence, you are offering to fill a need at the very moment that the customer realizes there is a need, she writes. Upselling at the point of purchase is another obvious, though often unused, strategy. Switzer recounts the case of the customer who buys a digital camera and finds out while on vacation that the internal memory holds only 15 photographs. Chances are the customer would have purchased an extra memory stick had it been offered.
Part One also deals with joint venture, advertising, prospecting, sales, Internet and overlooked strategies. The ideas and suggestions seem obvious. For example, no one should have to be told to liquidate inventory overstocks. Yet many small business owners allow excess stock to take up valuable shelf or storage space instead of moving it out to make room for bigger and better sellers, Switzer says.
Part Two, “Identify the Hidden Income Opportunities in Your Small Business,” suggests an “instant income overnight audit” to identify and prioritize income opportunities. The audit, a series of questions and scenarios that allow you to gauge your business’ potential to generate more cash, incorporates all the strategies discussed in Part One. Part Three, “Going Into Business With the Boss,” guides employees in identifying hidden opportunities for generating additional cash for the company and presenting those ideas to their boss. Switzer takes you through the deal-making process so that you are able to keep your job or be promoted while sharing in the profits generated from the execution of your ideas.
Part Five, “Turning Instant Income Into Lifetime Wealth,” argues that while generating extra income in the short term is important, even necessary to keep a business afloat, it also is important to determine how to continue to generate additional income in the long term. You will never have financial freedom if you constantly worry about generating cash, Switzer writes. Identify strategies that have proven successful for your company and implement them as policy instead of using them as a fallback during a cash crunch, she suggests. Investment options also should be considered, Switzer suggests.
Instant Income packs so much information on every page that you may have to read it more than once to digest it all. The book comes with access to free online help tools, such as an online audit and a sample deal-point memo.
By John Edgar Wideman
Houghton Mifflin Co., February 2008
288 pages, $24
As the protagonist in Wideman’s Fanon states, “Fact and fiction need each other, don’t they.” Wideman himself adheres to this thought in his latest novel, an intriguing blend of biography and fiction. Thomas is an African-American author who sets out to write about the life of Frantz Fanon, the renowned Martinique–born philosopher, political activist and author of The Wretched of the Earth. Thomas travels from the United States to France to work on his exhaustive project. In his typical cerebral narrative style, Wideman’s storytelling also moves, as the book unfolds different points of view.
Gotta Keep on Tryin’
By Virginia DeBerry and Donna Grant
Touchstone, January 2008
384 pages, $24
Patricia Reid and Gayle Saunders, best friends since childhood, are about to take their company, The Elle & Me Company, to the next level. Just as the two women are about to launch a new business project, they encounter challenges in their personal lives: Gayle must cope with her rebellious teenage daughter’s angst, while Pat and her husband, Marcus, are confronted by a teenage girl who claims to be Marcus’s daughter. In this sequel to their 1996 best-selling novel, Tryin’ to Sleep in the Bed You Made, DeBerry and Grant once again engage readers with truthful characters and snappy narration.
—Clarence V. Reynolds