Slow Down and Read “The Widest Net”


A fresh look at how to market your business. Ideal for entrepreneurs who have an established business and need to scale.

The Widest Net

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Like the proverbial frog in a pot of water, you may not have noticed how profoundly the sales and marketing ecosystem has changed. And, at the same time, some things haven’t changed at all, instead, you can say that we’ve simply turned up the volume.

But what’s changed and how are you supposed to navigate your way through this so-called new ecosystem?

Pamela Slim Provides Obvious Answers to Subtle Situations

The Widest Net: Unlock Untapped Markets and Discover New Customers Right in Front of You by Pamela Slim is a refreshing take on the small business owners “same-old-same-old” of what to do to get more customers, keep customers, make money and, grow your business all while maintaining some semblance of a personal life.

Who says you can’t have it all?

I spoke to Slim briefly about what triggered her to write “The Widest Net.” She explained that this book was just the logical progression in a series of books that started with “Escape from Cubicle Nation”, where she gave corporate employees the know-how and the support to go ahead and fly the corporate coop.  Then, she wrote “Body of Work” as the next step that “cubicle nation escapees” would take as they built their businesses – making sense of their unique experiences, strengths and talents and translating those into a business that solves a real customer problem.

And now, “The Widest Net”, completes the trilogy. This book finds our entrepreneur hero who escaped from Cubicle Nation and created a functioning business, entering the climax of their entrepreneurial story; seeking to navigate the labyrinth of how to scale their business without losing themselves in the process.

What Inspires Slim?

Pamela Slim is the founder of the K’é Main Street Learning Lab in Mesa, Arizona, a grassroots, community-based think tank for small business economic acceleration. She started her career as the director of training and development at Barclays Global Investors. She focused her first decade in business on creating and delivering training programs for large companies such as HP, Charles Schwab, 3Com, Chevron and Cisco Systems.

What makes Pamela Slim’s advice so credible is her personal experience with building businesses and training and mentoring entrepreneurs.  Slim started her career as corporate director of training and development at Barclays Global Investors working as a management consultant with large companies such as HP, Charles Schwab, 3Com, Chevron and Cisco Systems.

“Every idea in The Widest Net is informed by a shared experience, either in conversation with individual clients or with groups of people in workshops around the country and in our K’é Main Street Learning Lab. It is through our work together that ideas sprung up, frameworks were created, and inspiration struck.”

This is her inspiration.  You can see from her own personal story how the process map she outlines in “The Widest Net” has guided not only her, but hundreds of small businesses she has worked with over the decades.

Untangling Your Net

In some ways, there’s nothing new about Slim’s Widest Net Method; you start with your mission, values and ideal customer. And, if you’re NOT paying attention, it would be tempting to assume this is the same old same old.  

But it’s NOT.

While the words mission, values, and ideal customer are the same, how you get to these critical success factors has a slightly different flavor than what you’ve been used to.

The Widest Net Method asks you to make a shift from the “how” of your business, to the “why” behind your business. This shift from the “how” to the “why” of your business goes beyond Simon Sinek’s “Find Your Why”.  Slim wants you to focus on your ideal customer, and the problem that you solve for them. 

I know! This isn’t anything new.  But this is what I mean when I say the distinctions are subtle but important. 

Reading “The Widest Net” is like sitting down and untangling a net or perhaps a string of lights.  You know what to do and how to do it, but to get it untangled means you simply have to sit down and focus on each knot, unravel it and move on to the next one.

And this is what makes “The Widest Net” worth sitting with as you untangle your own net.

A Closer Look at How the Widest Net Digs Deep Into the Obvious

The best way to explain the subtle distinctions that are inside “The Widest Net” is to list just a few and show you how Slim takes the familiar steps in the marketing process and forces you to S-L-O-W   D-O-W-N so that you can actually FEEL your way through the challenge. 

Again, it’s just like feeling your way through a tangled net – you have to stop, sit, focus on a section, wiggle it between your fingers, find a point where it comes loose and pull it apart.

What are you building – empires or ecosystems?

Which do you want? Empire builders get rich, while the workers stay poor.  Ecosystems thrive when owners, workers, vendors and everyone involved in the business has enough money in their pockets.

Your list of “always and nevers”

Beyond your values, what is your list of specific things you will always do and things you will never do?  Here are a few examples:

  • Always communicate as soon as I know that there is a change from what was expected
  • Never have meetings at 4pm on a Friday
  • Always work with people who I respect and admire
  • Never work with mean people

What are your ideal clients’ attitudes and motivations?

While it’s important to list the obvious demographics, don’t stop there. Take the time to understand the different motivations and attitudes that your customers have.  

  • What drives them
  • What scares them
  • What transformations are they looking for

So there – now you can see what I mean by how Slim takes these obvious elements and forces you to stop and really think things through.

Why You Should Read The Widest Net”

There’s that Simon and Garfunkel Song that starts with “Slow down, you move too fast.” I think that’s Slim’s message to all of us.

I get where she’s coming from. Once you leave a comfortable corporate job and jump into a business, it’s a mad dash to get customers and make money.  Any customer will do – just don’t let me fail!

But then, after that initial growth and when your business is chugging along you notice that things are these glitches.  Those glitches are like when there’s static on a call and the voice on the other end is breaking up.  They aren’t major issues, but if they keep coming up, the business (and the flow of customers and money) is interrupted.

This is where a book like “The Widest Net” can come in super handy.  I love that it forces you to just STOP and step away for a minute. Give yourself the grace to take a step back and look at what you’ve created, why you created it and to see what needs to change so that you can keep going.

The Widest Net” may look like what you’ve seen before, but if you slow down and take a closer look, you just might find what you need to take your business (and your life) where you want it to go.

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Ivana Taylor Ivana Taylor is the Book Editor for Small Business Trends. She is responsible for directing the site’s book review program and manages the team of professional book reviewers. She also spearheads the annual Small Business Book Awards. Ivana publishes DIYMarketers, where she shares daily do-it-yourself marketing tips, and is co-author of "Excel for Marketing Managers."