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03 November 2009 @ 11:28 am
Say you were giving pointers to someone considering starting a small business. Where would you send them, what book(s) would you recommend, and/or what tips would you give?
Sean Stevenslightfixer on November 3rd, 2009 04:35 pm (UTC)
Guy Kawasaki
Most anything by him, though I haven't read his later stuff...

I think it was Rules for Revolutionaries that I'm thinking of, but he's a smart and really funny guy.

Spikespike on November 3rd, 2009 05:05 pm (UTC)
Re: Guy Kawasaki
Actually, How To Drive Your Competition Crazy is more betterer, IM(NS)HO.
Sean Stevenslightfixer on November 3rd, 2009 05:26 pm (UTC)
Re: Guy Kawasaki
Oh Yeah actually I think you are right!
It's been a long time... a lot of the ideas are still with me but the title, not so much :)
Bad Rabbitzzbottom on November 3rd, 2009 04:42 pm (UTC)
Never mix personal money and business money.

Have a budget and stick to it.

Set a date(s) for your own performance reviews. Be critical. Are you succeeding??

Make your business your primary relationship until you can answer the above question with an emphatic "yes".

Beahbeah on November 3rd, 2009 04:43 pm (UTC)
If they're local, I would tell them to run, do not walk, to the Entrepreneurial Think Tank at Cambridge Career Source. Also, SCORE (Service Corps of Retired Executives), a free advising program run by the Small Biz Administration, but be sure to go in with your ducks (or at least your questions and goals for the meeting) in a row.
wild, predictable abandoncontessagrrl on November 3rd, 2009 06:55 pm (UTC)
Seconded on SCORE, including that you should wait on that until you have specific goals, ideas, questions, etc.
evolution, and some other stuffjacflash on November 3rd, 2009 07:04 pm (UTC)
Thirded. SCORE is a great resource -- but preparation is key to getting the most out of them.
evolution, and some other stuffjacflash on November 3rd, 2009 04:48 pm (UTC)
The 4-Hour Workweek. Briefly, his take is to start by imagining the lifestyle you want and then design the business accordingly.

Even if one chooses a very different approach, there's an awful lot of food for thought in there.

I also like The Millionaire Course, which despite the title has an awful lot to say about entrepreneurship and growing a small business, albeit from a faintly New Agey perspective (the author runs the company that publishes Shakti Gawain, Eckhart Tolle, etc.). Still, lots of food for thought around approaches to business, management, lifestyle, etc.
Stable Strangeletcuthalion on November 3rd, 2009 05:02 pm (UTC)
Everyone I know who's started a small business has spent the first year or two doing very little else (like, working every day including weekends for the first 6 months type thing). Clearly that's for chumps; skip the small business and just start an international megacorp instead.
Beahbeah on November 3rd, 2009 07:00 pm (UTC)
I've been in business just shy of a year, and I don't work anywhere *near* that much. It's not a requirement, just a risk.
Ellenkeyne on November 3rd, 2009 05:17 pm (UTC)
TurboTax Home & Business. I lived without it once upon a time, but wouldn't want to now.
DancingWolfGrrldancingwolfgrrl on November 3rd, 2009 05:44 pm (UTC)
There's also a free online version of Quickbooks.
Spike: Basic - Hat Screamspike on November 3rd, 2009 05:17 pm (UTC)
I wrote up some notes on starting startups. There are lots of other good resources on-line, one possible starting point for finding some is this guy's 'delicious' bookmarks tagged 'startup'.

Books I'd recommend include For Entrepreneurs Only by Wilson Harrell, and everything ever written by Guy Kawasaki. Oh, and buy at least five books from Nolo Press ("Don't feed the lawyers!"); they have everything from how to start an LLC, how to file a patent (don't do this - no really), and what you have to do tax-wise with a small business. Even if you later hire an accountant and a lawyer to take care of these things (do this), you need a surface-level basic understanding anyway.

That help? :)
DancingWolfGrrldancingwolfgrrl on November 3rd, 2009 05:42 pm (UTC)
Stuff I like:
*The "manifestos" at Art of Non-Conformity. (These are better and more focused than the blog content, IMO.)
*Heart of Business (and not just because I like saying "Sufi business coach," either)
*Productive Flourishing

Those are all primarily aimed at information-based businesses, but many of them have good ideas for handling communications, etc.

I also keep hearing that Escape from Cubicle Nation is fantastic, but haven't made it to the library for it yet!
wriszwrisz on November 3rd, 2009 05:43 pm (UTC)

I have three bits of advice for anyone starting a new business.

Get an accountant.
Get an accountant.
Get an accountant.

you also might want to

Get an accountant.

Beahbeah on November 3rd, 2009 07:01 pm (UTC)
I need one! Do you have a recommendation for me?
Ellenkeyne on November 4th, 2009 12:14 am (UTC)
Some of us don't make enough from our businesses to afford an accountant. :)
(Deleted comment)
harimad on November 3rd, 2009 08:15 pm (UTC)
Having been involved in 2, utterly unrelated start-ups...
Learn to be rational about your decisions - except for the one to open a business in the first place. No rational person would do that.

Plan for success as well as failure. What will you do if the biz takes off unexpectedly? How much time are you going to give it? How will you finance increased operations, which you'll need to do before the increased revenues start rolling in?

Get the elevator talk down cold: be able to explain what your biz does in under 1 minute. This serves two purposes. One, it means you've focused your business plan down HARD. No fuzzy-fuzzy about it. Two, you need a strong pitch to catch someone's attention, be it a buyer, an investor, or a journalist.

Don't max out your credit cards to finance your biz. That's even worse than tapping your HELOC or getting a second mortgage.
evolution, and some other stuffjacflash on November 3rd, 2009 09:40 pm (UTC)
Re: Having been involved in 2, utterly unrelated start-ups...
...but if you do use credit cards to finance it, use ones that give you frequent-flier miles, and once the crazies have settled down a little, take a damn vacation.
harimad on November 4th, 2009 01:46 am (UTC)
Re: Having been involved in 2, utterly unrelated start-ups...
Hah! That's good.

I knew people who put their grad school tuition on their cc, then paid off the cc with grant/loan money, to get the benefits. Ah, the lovely little window after everyone and his dog accepted credit cards but before everyone and his dog realized that the cc fees were too high to continue this.
Chancemiss_chance on November 3rd, 2009 08:40 pm (UTC)
If they're in Massachusetts, I would send them to the Mass. Dept. of Revenue. I was surprised and delighted with the help they offered on the legal aspects. I read their web info, had some questions and called, only to find a very helpful and friendly person to talk me through the process. Of course this was about 8 years ago, so things might have changed, but it helped me a lot.
mr_privacy on November 4th, 2009 03:55 am (UTC)
What sort of small business?
For a high tech startup, Nesheim's book by that name, and Business plans that win $$$ by Rich and Gumpert.