By Rieva Lesonsky

starting a business adviceAre you wondering what it really takes to be a successful entrepreneur? Look no further: Kevin C. Maki’s Tipping the Odds for the Entrepreneur: Big Ideas on Success for the Small Business Owner has what you need.

Maki, the founder of Provident Clinical Research & Consulting, has spent more than 25 years studying entrepreneurs and what makes them succeed—or fail. Along the way, he’s learned that “entrepreneurial success is rarely a matter or luck or [genes].” Instead, Maki writes, success comes “from learning and applying the knowledge and skills necessary to attract, serve and retain profitable customers.”

Tipping the Odds is based on what Maki has learned in his study of entrepreneurs, what he has learned in his years running a successful small business, and what he has learned from other entrepreneurs both great (Howard Schultz, Warren Buffett) and small.

Maki begins by focusing on what he dubs the SLEEC business—a company that uses Sales & Marketing to create Loyal, Engaged Employees and Customers/Clients.  He covers ways to maximize the lifetime value of a customer by staying top of mind, getting referrals, exploiting your database and providing standout customer service.

Tipping the Odds also explores how to prepare for and survive recessions and other downturns, and lists the most common mistakes that destroy businesses and how to avoid them. In one interesting section, he explains how the Pareto Principle (the 80/20 rule) applies to your business and how you can turn it to your advantage. For instance, chances are that 20 percent of your customers account for 80 percent of your sales; 20 percent of your staff does 80 percent of the work and 20 percent of your products or services account for 80 percent of your profits.

Several chapters of the book are devoted to entrepreneurial lessons that Maki has learned from legendary businesspeople such as Warren Buffett and GE’s Jack Welch, as well as lessons from less-known but successful entrepreneurs who share their stories.

The strongest part of the book is the chapter titled “Attitudes & Habits of Success.” Although it focuses on traits that enhance your success as an entrepreneur, in reality, these traits (such as “a bias for action,” or the tendency to act rather than mull indefinitely) will suit you for success in anything you undertake.

There’s a refreshing absence of jargon and buzzwords in Tipping the Odds. This is not a groundbreaking or game-changing book; Maki cites many other entrepreneurship experts, and the principles he explores are not new. The book’s strength is in bringing together basic business truths in clear, straightforward and sensible prose. When you’re done reading, you’ll feel like you just had a much-needed talk with a wise elder who, with a few calm words, set your head straight.

In a world where you can barely finish reading the latest tome on social media before a new one makes it obsolete, Tipping the Odds is a refreshing reminder of the unchanging principles that really make the difference in business success—whether online or off.