The debt hawks are to economics as the creationists are to biology.

Recently, I received a note reading, “I was fascinated to see that you are in the turnaround business. I have been buying distressed companies for many years. I was wondering if you have written any articles or books on managing companies.

Yes, I spent most of my business life resurrecting troubled companies, and though the effort is difficult in execution, the process itself is quite simple:

Step 1. Search for the one niche your company can dominate. It’s important to be the dominant leader in your area.

Example: I built a struggling, legal-supplies company, selling all sorts of desk objects and various other supplies lawyers use, into America’s largest used law book seller.
Example: I built a struggling software company, that created software on demand, into America’s largest business simulation software company.

In every case, I minimized or completely eliminated the ancillary businesses that did not match our focused objective. Convincing my associates to get rid of their beloved ancillary businesses may have been my most difficult task. They always believed these businesses added income, while in fact, these side businesses stole time and money from our focus.

It is important that the niche be narrow enough for you to dominate. For instance if used law books had not been a niche we could dominate, I would have narrowed further, perhaps to used books from only one publisher or only books for certain states. Niche focus is the key to success, but it requires discipline. Most business people cannot handle it, emotionally. It’s the “big fish in a small pond” idea.

Step 2. Mass market to your target audience. This included direct mail, Email (aka spam), telephone marketing, Google and Yahoo advertising, some magazine advertising. I do not recommend trade shows, direct personal sales or any other sort of marketing that requires travel (too time consuming and expensive). Every day, I was able to contact several thousand people via mass marketing at minimal cost, while the best a traveling person might do is reach a few people at high cost.

Here again, niche marketing may be needed. For instance, market only to one state or one region of the country. It is important to become the leader. There are many benefits that accrue to leadership, so being #1 in Illinois provides better opportunity for growth than does being #10 in America.

And that’s it. The system is deceptively easy, but requires great discipline. Every day, temptation in the form of side businesses or personal marketing will tempt you, destroying your focus. You will be reluctant to get rid of those products and services that seem to “fill out your line,” but really take time and money away from your focus.

In short, focus, focus, focus. Focus on a narrow product or service niche you can dominate. Focus on a narrow customer description you can reach with mass marketing. Your goal: To become the biggest in a defined area at one thing.

Rodger Malcolm Mitchell

No nation can tax itself into prosperity. Those who say the stimulus “didn’t work” remind of the guy whose house is on fire. A neighbor runs with a garden hose and starts spraying, but the fire continues. The neighbor wants to call the fire department, which would bring the big hoses, but the guy says, “Don’t call. As you can see, water doesn’t put out fires.”