Books for summer reading take a focus on the future

Some books for summer reading deal with making a business a success, selling that business and entering retirement and using the body's physical intelligence to live a stress free, happier life.

The Beginning of the End – a practical guide to retirement preparation for the small business owner, by Dr Terri Bourne

The title of this book may sound rather ominous but could equally be called the start of things to come. It is essentially about exiting your business – but as Bourne explains this could be a long time off. And it may be that you don’t sell your own business at all, you may retire without selling.

With the experience of having set up seven different business Bourne understands the hard work and investment that goes into running a business and making it successful. She also understands that many business owners focus on building and running their businesses and not looking at how they will ever exit them.

This is a very engaging and fluid read – and Bourne provides online, a free workbook to help business owners work through their own ideas and fashion a personal and private record of all the steps they can go through.

These steps take the business owner through assessing your options and reasons: why you need to sell or want to sell, what you want to do, how you want to do it, how you will live and the pros and cons of selling. If at this point the sell is still on – and it maybe that it is but not until some date in the future – then is the time to make further plans – preparing the business for sale; assessing the finances – business and personal; and then organising the exit process, compiling systems for finance, paperwork and people.

The beauty of this process is that none of the work or preparation or thinking is unnecessary or wasted. You could be very far off from retiring and/or selling up and all this organisation – of thoughts and systems will have been time well spent.

The final stage of the book deals with whether to sell – or not to sell. It could be the process has confirmed in your mind that you want to sell and have everything in place to go ahead. It could equally be that you find you are not ready – or the business is not ready. It matters not which. You have made a very good start on your exit strategy.

This is not a long book – it won’t take you away for long from the busy business life – but it will give you all the structure you need to consider how you will exit your business and enter your retirement.

The Beginning of the End – a practical guide to retirement preparation for the small business owner, by Dr Terri Bourne is published by Practical Inspiration Publishing (, price £12.99, ISBN 978-1-78860-188-7.

Physical Intelligence – Harness your body’s untapped intelligence to achieve more, stress less and live life more happily, by Claire Dale and Patricia Peyton

Physical Intelligence

Are you retired? Thinking of retiring? Arguably this isn’t a book about retirement, neither is it particularly about business although its authors have spent and spend much of their careers advising industry leaders and the world’s top companies’ teams and individuals improve performance. It seems scathing to call it a self-help book but any part of it will help any self. As in the title the focus in on physical intelligence ie the ‘active management of our physiology and the ability to detect and strategically influence the balance of chemicals in our bodies’.

It that all sounds a bit scientific to you, you will be pleasantly surprised – and dare one say exhilarated? how by simple, practical and mindful and common sense means this marshalling of the way our bodies impact our minds and our actions.

So where does retirement come in? It’s just one of many times in which this book can be of help. Retirement is something we venture into willing or unwillingly. And the term venture is used advisedly. For a successful and happy retirement we should see it as an adventure. And for any adventure one needs to be prepared. The notion that you should ‘achieve more, stress less and live life more happily’ is not less important when we stop work as at any other in our lives. The same could go if you find yourself – or family and friends around you find themselves – out of work – different to retiring. There are myriad tools to survival in whatever circumstances and they are all to be found in this book. The physical intelligence process follows four key elements: Strength; Flexibility; Resilience and Endurance.

Dale and Peyton take the reader through explanations of what all these are, how they can be achieved and what they will enable the student. There are tips and exercises throughout which will help the process become natural and seamless. There are examples from individuals in all walks and stages of life.

Still stuck in the ‘self-help’ cynicism? Think you don’t need a lesson in optimism? Optimists are clearly better off than pessimists (reviewer’s generalisation) but consider – you optimists – that ‘extreme optimists are also more likely to smoke and are less likely to prepare adequately for important events or save funds for the future.’ That’s a retirement issue right there. And are you too old for all this and are you thinking what can our posture have to do with anything? Cue example of a high-ranking civil servant in his 60’s who, purely by improving his posture and rising from hunched and tense to strenthened and relaxed, changed from a disengaged manager to a strong and connected one who transformed the impact he had on his department.

This is another key point – this is not just about the individual but on those around them. If you can get anything from this book it will not just be for you but for your students, work colleagues, friends, family, partner. Frankly everyone will benefit.

Physical Intelligence – Harness your body’s untapped intelligence to achieve more, stress less and live life more happily, by Claire Dale and Patricia Peyton is published by Simon & Schuster, price £14.99, ISBN 978-1-4711-7090-4.

Start Scale Sell – 75 lessons for business success by Nick Stuckley

Book cover

‘Don’t do as I do, do as I say’ could sum up Suckley’s book. With some good reason, having launched four and sold three businesses, he has good lessons for the business owner – 75 of them in fact which he fits into three sections: Start, Scale and Sell.

The difficulty of any business book out at this time is that covid-19 has muddied the waters for any start up, established business or about to be sold business. Markets are just not what they were at the beginning of the year. Whether businesses can survive let alone be scaled up or be sold is highly questionable.

It just so happens that Suckley was about to publish when coronavirus hit and he was able to re-evaluate all that he was to put forward. He makes the point that as with any market downturn, businesses that are over-indebted will be exposed and will likely fail. For many there won’t have been time – or their particular sector of the economy will be too hard hit for even the best to survive. But there is time to do some bailing out and shoring up for many. So the section Surviving Tough Times maybe the one many business readers will head straight for. Suckley says he wouldn’t change any of the lessons therein. For example, in a downside: ‘If your income is falling then your costs need to follow suit.’ He concedes the government furlough scheme may have saved many redundancies – to date anyway, what follows as the scheme ends remains to be seen. But Suckley makes the point that ‘Resource, and more importantly skills and goodwill, will be retained in business to deal with the recovery.’

And if business which were about to start up should take encouragement from this: ‘ … companies as diverse as Salesforce, Microsoft, Uber and AirBnB all launched during downturns.’ As society changes this could be the time for something new – entrepreneurs to the fore.

At first glance many of the lesson topics may seem pretty familiar – what is not is the actual lesson, the experience Suckley and his business colleagues went through, what they learnt and how they came out the other side. Many will recognise the scenario and still learn something.

Some lessons can surprise. So, under Start – lesson 8 asks ‘How hard do I need to work?’ More business owners than not work all hours but Suckley colleague in one business solved this with another question: ‘Have you earned your money today?’ in other words, focus on your achievements, not the time spent working. Some days you just won’t achieve however long you work so be realistic and don’t beat yourself up. Or burn yourself out.

Then on scaling up – a common consideration is staffing and not leaving it too late to do so (lesson 28). There comes a stage when you go (you hope!) from being ‘self-employed’ to being an employer; Suckely warns: ‘most companies I’ve worked with leave this decision far too late. I can understand why it happens; confidence in the future is a big factor, but, sometimes, you just have to take the leap.’

Conversely, when it comes to Sale – an interesting notion is in the lesson (number 71): ‘The deal that is right for the company may not be right for all the individuals concerned’. In a nutshell Suckley was embarking on a sale of his business when he realised there would be no role for him: having recognised this he was able to negotiate what was good for him and for the new owners and remaining staff.

This is a very easy book to read – it is packed with information and there won’t be many ‘lessons’ a business owner won’t learn from. Lesson 76: learn from someone who’s been there.

Start Scale Sell – 75 lessons for business success by Nick Stuckley is published by Practical Inspiration Publishing (, price £12.99, ISBN 9781788601832.

See also: Why business success depends on surrounding yourself with self-starters

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