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My favourite guru: Robert Craven on Tim Ferriss and Chris Anderson

4 Mins

On Tim Ferriss

Tim Ferriss offers a step-by-step guide to “luxury lifestyle design”. The clue is in the title of his book: The Four-Hour Work Week.

In a world of increasing technological complexity, he advocates using the available tools to become more effective (cloud computing, laptops, iPads, mobile phones, email, and social media) even though they usually make things more complicated for most people. 

By being focused and ruthlessly prioritising, you can create systems and processes that run like clockwork without you having to get involved. Money machines! For instance, you can use Google Adwords to send buyers to a website that sends orders to a fulfillment centre, payments to your bank account and enquiries to a virtual assistant or call centre. Ferriss also advocates filling your personal time with the things you really want to have and do. 

How Tim Ferriss has influenced my business approach:

Ferriss’s obsession has rubbed off on me in terms of what can only be described as “clinical goal-setting and time management”. 

At the same time, his passion to create “turnkey money-making machines” that need little or no maintenance has impacted on my own businesses as well as those of clients.

On Chris Anderson

Chris Anderson’s The Long Tail examines how the economy (and culture) is increasingly shifting away from the best-sellers, a relatively small numbers of “hits” at the head of a demand curve, and toward a huge number of niches in the tail.

In a world where rapidly-changing technologies make the world more connected and interconnected, The Long Tail was the first book to explain exactly how the ability to reach niche markets would create big opportunities.

The long tail concept showed that the traditional blockbuster/best-seller/hits model would become less ubiquitous as the price of manufacture, distribution and storage of products was combined with increasingly powerful intermediaries and opinion-formers.

How Chris Anderson has influenced my business approach:

One implication is that you can make real money in the niches. For example, my clients work in such diverse industries as bakers, photographers, accountants and coaches… By specialising in a micro-niche, you can become the expert and charge premium prices for your product because you can capture the demand (the baker with the 50-year old recipe, the photographer that is the true expert with pets, the accountant that only works with the film industry, the coach that only works with dentists). 

Secondly, there is the (online) concept of limitless shelf size and the next to free cost of storage. Digital products can be stored at zero cost whereas a traditional retailer can only sell what they can fit on their shelves  which is normally the “best-sellers” and Top Ten products. This has seen me involved in the creation of premium-priced online businesses from a business club to expert reporting to e-learning. 

Lastly, production, manufacture and distribution costs have collapsed so greater profit margins are possible. What becomes important is the quality of the intermediaries who point people towards the appropriate resource (eg Google or Trip Advisor).

Robert Craven is the founder of The Directors’ Centre. He contributed to “Business Gurus”, a new book published by Crimson Publishing this month which describes entrepreneurs’ business heroes.

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