By: Constance Lee Menefee

Charles Decker, author of Winning with the P&G 99, thinks your small business has a lot to learn from the Cincinnati-based, multi-national, consumer products giant Procter & Gamble.

Any entrepreneur, sole proprietor or small business manager could use the 99 principles as an outline to become more successful.

Decker is a independent marketing consultant who left P&G thirty years ago, after becoming a brand manager in less than three years. His five year stint internalizing the P&G way still affects how he thinks and acts.

The book is an excellent blend of concise principles and illustrations gleaned from real-world, real-product examples. I found some of the lessons particularly relevant based on my own work with small businesses.

Lesson 26: Opinions don't count. How many times have you acted based solely on "gut instinct" with no information, no data to back you up?  If you have been lucky, it's worked out anyway. Taking this lesson, and Lesson 24: Know all that is knowable to heart, would probably prevent many small business failures.

Decker suggests Lesson 22: Strategic thinking is a way of life for everyone, no matter who you are or what kind of business you're in. He said, "My advice is to train yourself to think strategically about every important decision in your life."

Fortunately, Decker doesn't leave you thrashing around with no hints on learning how to think and plan strategically.

He includes a strategic thought model that starts with "objectives and rationale" and carries through to "recommended actions." One simple page spells out an entire strategic process. You could carry a copy folded in your pocket.

The tool for learning strategic thinking is the renowned P&G memo. Lesson 34: The memo is a template for strategic thinking illustrates how to produce a flawless document that invites action. Take a look at your last proposal or business plan. Fudged data and supporting exhibits from some other document? Maybe it's time to revise using the P&G model.

  Article originally appeared in the Cincinnati Post, June 30, 1998