No Man's Land: What to Do When Your Company is Too Big to Be Small, But Too Small to Be Big by Doug Tatum, Portfolio, 256 pages, $24. 95 Hardcover, September 2007, ISBN 9781591841722 It is often difficult to find your way forward in business, particularly when your company is growing at a fast clip. The possibilities are myriad and the next step is not always clear.
My ultimate objective in writing No Man's Land was to help lower the failure rate of this country's emerging growth businesses. I want to prevent entrepreneurs who have nurtured a wonderful idea from growing their firms right out of business. I want to help those first-, second-, and third-generation family members to understand what they are up against and what they need to consider in order to pass their businesses on to the next generation. I want to help those of you in the corporate world decide whether or not to jump ship and help grow a young company that you believe is on to something big.Tatum does believe that some businesses have to remain small to remain profitable, but for those that are suited for growth, he delineates four M's needed to make it a successful venture: Market, Management, Model, and Money. Having built Tatum, LLC, the author has successfully used these M's to meet the challenges inherent in turning a small, human-scale organization into a firm that now has more than one thousand professionals and thirty-three offices across the country. As a speaker, Tatum teaches entrepreneurs around the country about the business terrain he calls No Man's Land, and discusses how (and even whether) to grow your business through that dangerous terrain.
Should a firm get big? There is no "correct" answer. The decision to embark on the No Man's Land journey--or to complete the journey once it has already begun--reflects not merely an assessment of the firm's financial prospects or its ability to apply the four Ms, but also a determination of the entrepreneur's own personal ambitions.Contrary to popular belief, it is not corporate America that grows jobs in this country. Instead, our society relies on the success of these high-growth companies. The key to that success, says Tatum, is to implement changes that professionalize the company but keep it focused on the customer the leaders first set out to serve. For any entrepreneur looking to grow their business, or wondering if they even should, this is essential reading.