4 Essential Start-Your-Business Books

"4 Essential Start-Your-Business Books"

Books – falling out of fashion, perhaps, but – business books, for sure – still so practical. What’s an hour of your time worth? How much time can a business book save? I posted here last week, in this context, about John Jantsch’s new book on referral marketing. And today, Melinda Emerson’s Become Your Own Boss in 12 Months. I love the book, I’ve got mixed feelings about its title, and I particularly like its real-world common sense.

Real-world common sense like starting at the beginning, not how to go out on your own, precisely, but on whether you want to: Melinda starts with a chapter called "So You Think You Want to be an Entrepreneur." That’s right, really, and very important in this topic area. So she challenges you to think about what you really want, and whether your idea will work, and do you love what you want to do.

Here’s a great quote from that chapter:

Suddenly becoming a one-salary family is tricky. Make sure your spouse supports your decision. If not, your dream can turn into a nightmare.

And another, highlighting Melinda’s offering of real-world "been there done that" insight:

Of course, the best business idea in the world isn’t worth anything if you run out of money. There’s no way around it: starting a business is expensive. It will be a while before you see a return on your investment. That’s why, before you leave your job and pack up your cubicle, ensure that you and your family are financially stable.

So what don’t I like? Nothing serious; actually, I admit it, these are petty complaints:

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The phrase "become your own boss" in the title. It’s a pet peeve of mine: you start a business, you aren’t going to be your own boss; your customers become your boss. But that has nothing to do with the book. That’s just me.

The 12-months time frame: Sabrina Parsons and I wrote 3 Weeks to Startup (2008, Entrepreneur Press), so I feel like I have to mention that. Still, Melinda explains the 12 months extremely well in her second chapter (titled "Why Does it Take Twelve Months"). And I really like the way she schedules the tasks through the months, giving things time to simmer. It goes well with her practical advice.

What do I like? Lots:

Melinda is good at keeping the business in the larger context of your life. That’s an excellent reminder. Her third chapter focuses on "your life plan" and it’s full of good advice, things you should consider.

Her 12-month plan presents the process well. At the beginning, three months of getting ready, including your life plan in the first, then financial plan, business model, lawyer, accountant. I’ve been there. This is how things really work. Then nine months of getting set, including focus, niche marketing, of course business planning, financing, building a team, recruiting, branding, and so on. Then comes the launch, with good discussions of bookkeeping, maintaining marketing, and so on. Throughout, it’s good advice, well organized, clearly written.

So where do I get to the post title above about 4 essential books? This post is about the newest of the four, Melinda Emerson’s Become Your Own Boss in 12 Months. And I’ve already mentioned the one I co-authored, 3 Weeks to Startup. So the other two are two books I like so much I can’t write about this topic without including them. I’ve written about both of these before: Pamela Slim’s Escape From Cubicle Nation and Guy Kawasaki’s The Art of the Start. Each has a different point of view, each covers different elements.

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Starting a business is a big deal. If you’re serious about it, read all four of these books.

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