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New book offers at-a-glance overview of business world

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A new book co-written by Michael Preis, a professor of business administration, provides a wide-ranging overview of the business world, offering quick-read lessons to guide people looking for a crash course as well as those who just need to brush up.

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7/1/2010 | Jan Dennis, Business & Law Editor | 217-333-0568; jdennis@illinois.edu

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Business touches virtually every line of work, from high-stakes dealing on Wall Street to managing payroll and supplies for local street-repair crews.

A new book co-written by a University of Illinois expert provides a wide-ranging overview of the business world, offering quick-read lessons to guide people looking for a crash course as well as those who just need to brush up.

“The lessons apply to all facets of business because the people most likely to succeed are the ones with the broadest understanding of the diverse challenges they might face,” said Michael W. Preis, a visiting professor of business administration in the nationally ranked U. of I. College of Business.

The pocket-sized book, “101 Things I Learned in Business School,” is a follow-up to the popular “101 Things I Learned in Architecture School.” Matthew Frederick, an architect who wrote the 2007 release, is a co-author of the new book, published by Hatchette Book Group, a division of Grand Central Publishing in New York.

Each lesson is presented in a two-page format with a brief summary and illustration, covering topics in accounting, communications, economics, finance, management, marketing, operations, strategy and other disciplines.

For business students, recent graduates and business professionals, the book is a handy, at-a-glance overview that puts key theories in perspective, whether they were learned weeks or years ago, said Preis, who earned an MBA from Harvard and a doctorate in marketing from George Washington University.

For people trained in other fields who land jobs that require business skills, he said, the book is a primer that provides a thumbnail summary of fundamental principles, the logic behind them and their real-world application.

“It’s a brief introduction that will help those people in thinking about business and running businesses,” Preis said. “It introduces the basics and provides a springboard for those who want to dig deeper.”

The book’s 101 lessons include explanations of equity capital vs. debt capital, cash accounting vs. accrual accounting, and a synopsis of the various forms of business ownership, as well as tips on expanding sales, developing mission statements, motivating employees and running meetings.

Other topics covered include:

• A strategy lesson titled “There’s a Trolley Every 15 Minutes,” noting that business opportunities are numerous, and jumping into a bad venture may be far worse than missing out on a good one.

“It’s a great lesson that applies to life, not just business,” Preis said. “Whether it’s a house or a car, don’t overpay and make sure to do your homework. Like trolleys, other opportunities will come along.”

• A marketing lesson explaining that consumer benefits sell products, not fancy features. A telephone-answering machine might have features such as call forwarding and call waiting, but the benefit is that users will never miss another call.

• A lesson that explains why companies cannibalize their own markets by introducing new products that compete with existing ones. “Why would a laundry-detergent maker launch a liquid soap that competes with its powdered product? So its competitors don’t,” Preis said.

The quick-read lessons are accompanied by illustrations that range from informative charts to light-hearted cartoons, said Preis, a mechanical engineer who worked in private business and owned his own industrial supply company before going into teaching.

“Some of the illustrations are amusing, but it’s not a funny book,” he said. “The lessons are all serious, and something that both novices and business professionals can grasp and remember very quickly.”

Editor's note: To contact Michael Preis, call 217-244-2907; e-mail mpreis@illinois.edu.
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