Thinking Allowed by Julian Wiles

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Thinking Allowed by Julian Wiles

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Category: Business and Finance
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Sue Magee
Reviewed by Sue Magee
Summary: Not a prescriptive 'how to run your business' book, but an easy-to-read series of short articles and lists designed to get you thinking about your business.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 172 Date: August 2016
Publisher: AuthorHouseUK
ISBN: 978-1524633103

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Thinking Allowed? Hmm, I thought, what has that got to do with building a thriving optical lens business? But within a few pages of starting to read, I was convinced that it was perfect. You see, this isn't a book which you read, rather like a Delia Smith book, to give you a precise recipe for how you must proceed to achieve a perfect result. No two businesses are alike, any more than any two owners are alike and Julian Wiles allows you to approach your business from all angles: there are even ways you can get his personal advice. This is no ordinary 'how to' book. There are no chapter numbers (you pick from the menu) and it's not even necessary to read the book in any particular order.

Wiles came into the optical lens business after a brief sojourn in the city of London, and began working for The Norville Group. He sold frames in the north west of England and then optical machines and lenses into wholesale and distribution channels. This took him into the board rooms and offices of major retailers and gave him an excellent grounding on how the industry really works. He's since bought a wholesale lens distribution business. (You'll find a fuller version of Wiles' career here). Wiles is perfectly placed to tell the reader what works and what's likely to fail.

It's always struck me that opticians, pharmacists and more recently dentists are in a strange situation. Individually they've all worked extremely hard at university to acquire a professional qualification, but for the most part the success of any business which they start will be dependent not just on their professional expertise, but on what they can sell, either in terms of goods or additional services. This isn't what's taught at university and it doesn't seem unreasonable to assume that people didn't go to there because they were salesmen - this is where they need help.

Thinking Allowed aims to show business owners how they can generate new, profitable and sustainable revenue streams: the question of discounts, 'two for one' offers and the like are discussed and evaluated. You're encouraged to add elements to your business, take others away and try different combinations until you find out what suits you and the location in which you're trading. There's even advice on finding out information about your area.

The mixture of articles and lists (headed The Next Steps to Building a Better Optical Business) works well. The next steps can be as pithy as test a price increase or find out the lifetime value of your clients. This last one is particularly interesting as you're shown how to get to this figure - and it puts the cost of acquiring those clients into context. The coverage of the book is wide ranging, from social media to more traditional areas such as training. (I loved What if I train them and they leave? with the answer What if you don't train them and they stay?) Some of the stories are gold dust - such as the man who went into the BMW dealership, dressed very casually. The only staff member there was dismissive - so he went next door and bought a £70,000 Jaguar.

The book is aimed at the optical lens business but in reality anyone who is running a business will find lots to provoke thought. I've lots of nudges (yes, I will clean up my database) about things which I ought to do and I've had cause to think hard about whether I'm working in the business or on it. Thinking Allowed encourages you to take a step back from your business and view it objectively. It's definitely recommended and I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to the Bookbag.

If you're running a small business we can also recommend How to Get Inside Someone's Mind and Stay There: The business owner's guide to content marketing and confident copywriting by Jacky Fitt and The 15 Essential Marketing Masterclasses for Your Small Business by Dee Blick.

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Buy Thinking Allowed by Julian Wiles at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Thinking Allowed by Julian Wiles at Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
Buy Thinking Allowed by Julian Wiles at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Thinking Allowed by Julian Wiles at


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