So, You Want to Start a Business? : 8 Steps to Take Before Making the Leap

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  • Edition: 1st
  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 1/1/2009
  • Publisher: FT Press

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More than 60% of American adults say they want to own their own business, and more than 5,000,000 new businesses are started every year. Unfortunately, 50-70% of new businesses fail. In this book, two of the world's leading experts on entrepreneurship identify the 8 'killer mistakes' that cause most of these business failures and give entrepreneurs all the knowledge, tools, templates, strategies, and hands-on how-to advice they need to avoid these errors. Unlike other books that focus on topics like writing business plans and finding investors, this book focuses on the crucial operational issues that make the difference between consistent profitability and costly failure. You'll learn how to identify the right opportunities and customers; effectively design your products and services; set the right price; overcome customer inertia; avoid common day-to-day management mistakes; find and keep good employees; and finally, smoothly manage growth. Throughout, the authors draw on real life entrepreneurial experiences, case studies, and leading-edge research. But there's nothing theoretical here: from start to finish, this book delivers fast-paced, 100% practical advice you can begin using right this minute!

Author Biography

Edward D. Hess, JD, LLM, has spent most of his business life advising entrepreneurs and financing their business ventures. He is currently Professor of Business Administration and Batten Executive-in-Residence at the Darden School of Business, University of Virginia. He founded and led the Center for Entrepreneurship and Corporate Growth and the Values-Based Leadership Institute at the Goizueta Business School, Emory University. His books include The Successful Family Business, The Search For Organic Growth, and The Road To Organic Growth. He has personally built three successful service businesses. His website is www.EDHLTD.com.


Charles F. Goetz, MBA, Distinguished Lecturer in Entrepreneurship at Emory’s Goizueta Business School, has built nine successful businesses in six industries. He serves on the boards of several entrepreneurial ventures and not-for-profits. He recently published The Great Entrepreneurial Divide. His specialties are marketing, customer acquisition, and product development.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgmentsp. xvii
About the Authorsp. xix
Introductionp. xx
Who Should Buy This Book?p. xx
Why Is This Book Important?p. xx
What Topics Are Covered?p. xx
Why Are We Qualified to Write This Book?p. xxi
How to Use This Bookp. xxii
Can You Be a Successful Entrepreneur?p. 1
What Do Successful Entrepreneurs Do?p. 2
Who Are Successful Entrepreneurs?p. 3
Key Definitionsp. 5
Two Common Paths to Entrepreneurial Successp. 5
Lessons Learnedp. 6
Basic Rules of Business Successp. 9
The 8 Common Start-Up Mistakesp. 10
Choosing a Bad Business Opportunityp. 10
Choosing the Wrong Customersp. 12
The Wrong Productp. 12
Pricing Products or Services Improperlyp. 13
Not Selling to Enough Customers Fast Enoughp. 14
Not Executing Wellp. 15
People Problemsp. 16
Mismanaging Growthp. 17
Basic Rules of Business Successp. 18
Lessons Learnedp. 19
What Is a Good Business Opportunity?p. 21
Pencil Itp. 23
The Best Sandwich Shopp. 24
What Is the Average Price You Can Sell Your Sandwiches For?p. 25
Competitorsp. 26
Back to the Mathp. 28
Children's Clothing Shopp. 30
Customer Conversion Ratiop. 31
Customer Conversion Ratesp. 32
Two Different Types of Businessesp. 32
Estimating Your Costsp. 35
What Does Net Profit Margin Tell You About Costs?p. 36
Why Do You Need to Know Your Costs?p. 37
7 Wsp. 38
Lessons Learnedp. 38
How Do You Choose the Right Customers?p. 41
The Right Customersp. 42
Who Is a Prospect?p. 42
Example Survey Questionsp. 47
The Competitionp. 52
Lessons Learnedp. 58
How Do You Design Your Product or Service?p. 59
Give Customers Only What They Truly Needp. 60
Features or Benefitsp. 60
What Is Value?p. 61
Example: Enhancing Your Product/Service Valuep. 62
Your "Reason for Being"p. 66
Low Innovationp. 68
It's Now Time to Build Your Product/Servicep. 69
Can You Build or Produce It?p. 70
The Prototype-The Testp. 70
What Is a Prototype and How Does It Work?p. 71
Other Tipsp. 71
3 Wsp. 74
Lessons Learnedp. 74
What Is the Right Price for Your Product or Service?p. 77
Competitive Pricingp. 80
Break-even Formulap. 81
Number of Products Required to Be Sold to Break Evenp. 82
Additional Pricing Factorsp. 82
Lessons Learnedp. 84
How Can You Overcome Customer Inertia?p. 87
Obstacles to a Salep. 88
The Risks of Buying from Youp. 89
Making Sales Takes Practicep. 92
The Psychology of Salesp. 92
The Customer Buying Timelinep. 92
Time Is Your Enemy-Your Money Is Burningp. 93
Selling Is Like Fishingp. 93
Customer Referral Programs and Customer Loyalty Programsp. 94
Start with a Customerp. 94
Lessons Learnedp. 95
How to Manage Your Businessp. 97
Start-Up Overloadp. 98
Your Value Chainp. 99
Your Supply Chainp. 100
Your Manufacturing (Assembling) Chainp. 101
Why Do You Flow Chart Your Business?p. 102
Management by Objectivesp. 103
Management by Exceptionsp. 106
The Power of Simplicityp. 108
Rule of 3sp. 109
Rule of 7sp. 110
Measurements and Rewardsp. 110
Stay on the Front Linesp. 114
Iterationp. 114
Make Work Funp. 115
Lessons Learnedp. 116
How Do You Find and Keep Good Employees?p. 119
This People Stuff Is Hardp. 120
What Do Employees Want?p. 121
Why Is High Employee Turnover Bad?p. 121
Hire for Fitp. 121
Hiring Toolsp. 122
Probationary Hiringp. 123
Buy-Inp. 123
The Rules of the Gamep. 124
Best Practices of Managing Employeesp. 124
Promote from Withinp. 125
The Meaning of Workp. 126
Mental Rehearsalp. 127
Mental Replayp. 127
Lessons Learnedp. 128
How Do You Manage Growth?p. 131
Growth Can Be Good or Badp. 132
The Two Absolutesp. 134
Processp. 135
Financing Growthp. 136
Financial Controlsp. 137
Managing the Unexpectedp. 137
Peoplep. 138
Small Business Servicesp. 139
Check-Offp. 140
Legalp. 140
Legal Structurep. 140
Small Business Networksp. 141
Upgrading Peoplep. 142
Customer Diversificationp. 142
Growth Changes Your Jobp. 142
Lessons Learnedp. 145
Conclusionp. 147
Business Rulesp. 148
Lessons Learnedp. 160
Bibliography and Resourcesp. 169
Booksp. 169
"Building a Company" Booksp. 169
Business Strategy Booksp. 172
Entrepreneurship Booksp. 173
Family Business Booksp. 174
Finance, Accounting, and Measurement Booksp. 175
Leadership Booksp. 176
Books on Lessons to Learn from Bad Leadershipp. 178
Management Booksp. 178
Marketing and Sales Booksp. 180
Articlesp. 181
Information Portalsp. 183
Author's Commentariesp. 184
Indexp. 187
Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.


Praise for So, You Want to Start a Business Praise for So, You Want to Start a Business?"I used So, You Want To Start a Business? to restructure my furniture hardware company. The book was full of applicable information that I have used and will continue to incorporate into my company. I couldn't ask for a better resource." --Adam Prestwood, Vice President, Pampco, Inc."Practical, sensible advice to anyone starting a business. A great short course in entrepreneurship." --Billy D. Prim, Chairman and CEO, Primo Water Corporation, Winston-Salem, NC"This is exactly the kind of book first time entrepreneurs always needed but was never available. Everyone who is thinking about becoming an entrepreneur must read this book." --Dr. E.W. Leonard, Associate Dean, Executive MBA Program, Goizueta Business School, Emory University"Here is the straight story about being a successful entrepreneur from people who have been one and taught many. Clear, practical, and concise, this book delivers the goods." --Andy Fleming, Principal, Core Growth Partners, Atlanta, GA"Solid advice for building and growing a sustainable business." --Andrew Bourne, CEO, WayPoint Technologies, Phoenix, AZ"Professor Hess's book has helped me improve my services and make clients feel appreciated, respected, and most of all, like they're getting a great service at a fair price." --Sammy Starnes, Owner, Hair Concepts, Inc."A treasure trove of information! I just started my company, and I have to say that this book helped me make the right decisions from the very beginning." --Derica Justice, Owner, Bon Bini Print & Design"This is a great practical guide with lessons and insights for anyone who wants to start a business. You will go back to it again and again." --Ned Morgens, CEO, SarahCare.com, Atlanta, GA"Whether you are a striving young entrepreneur or a middle-aged person with the courage to trust your wits, this book is indispensable." --Ben Dyer, General Partner, Cordova Ventures, Atlanta, GA"A must read for entrepreneurs who want to know what it really takes to launch a successful small business." --Jay Myers, CEO, Interactive Solutions, Inc., Memphis, TN"A precise, pragmatic, wisdom-dripping, rich read. The authors walk the talk." --Jim Christian, CEO, Kandumedia.com, Denver, CO"A powerful book full of good how-to advice." --Philippe Sommer, Director of Entrepreneurship Programs, Batten Institute, Darden School of Business, Charlottesville, VA"This book is a great primer and an excellent reference book for an entrepreneur." --Walter Negley, CEO, TSP, Houston, TX Copyright Pearson Education. All rights reserved.

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