With unemployment at a record 8.9 percent and stiff competition in the job market, it seems that one possible alternative for the frustrated job-seeker could be starting his own business. And one business on the upswing lately is the "writing-your-own-book-on-owning-your-own-business" business. Books of this genre run the gamut from identifying the entrepreneurial type to starting a small part-time business to making it big on your own. The message is that opportunities abound and there is money and freedom to be had for those who are energetic and self-confident enough to try.
Starting with the premise that you need to determine whether you are inclined to be a self-starter, Joseph R. Mancuso's "Have You Got What It Takes?" (Prentice-Hall, 1982, 230 pp.) provides a basic litmus test. According to Mancuso, who has started several businesses himself, there is a pattern evidenced in successful entrepreneurs. Although all were not necessarily born with the entrepreneurial spirit, they at least had been "nurtured in an entrepreneurial incubator." He finds, for example, that most male entrepreneurs are usually optimistic first-borns of self-employed fathers, with a wife, a master's degree and loads of energy. (All admit, however, that plain old luck is the most essential ingredient.) The book offers some thought-provoking questions that force a degree of introspection, as well as bits of advice on dealing with problems the would-be entrepreneur is bound to encounter, such as choosing the right name for the enterprise, hiring help and dealing with failure--(think of it as "a resting place"). There is a separate section with advice for women, as well as an extensive appendix listing valuable sources of help.
Once you have concluded that you just might have what it takes, you may want to take a look at Brett Kingstone's "The Student Entrepreneur's Guide--How to Guide, Start and Run Your Own Part Time Small Business" (Ten Speed Press, 1981, $4.95, 159 pp.). Geared toward the student, housewife or full-time employe with spare time to invest, the book suggests numerous creative ideas for part time businesses and offers advice to that end. If Kingstone's guide is a bit over-simplified for the sophisticated entrepreneur, it will at least get the novice on the right track. It details the basics of starting a business, from obtaining licenses and permits to marketing the merchandise. There are also diagrams of just about every conceivable business form, including rental agreements, profit and loss statements, federal and state tax forms and freight invoices.
Kingstone, a 1981 Stanford graduate and student entrepreneur who started and operated his own bedding warehouse, draws upon his own experiences and those of other college students to emphasize the trend toward entrepreneurism on college campuses today. His examples of successful student businesses run from the unlikely Teddy Bear Tuck-In Service provided to campus coeds at the University of Maryland, to the inspirational small garage workshop operation of two Stanford students that eventually grew into the $2.36 billion Hewlett-Packard electronic industrial empire.
How To Become Financially Successful By Owning Your Own Business" (Simon & Schuster, 1981, $14.95, 407 pp.) by Albert J. Lowry, is a sophisticated, well-organized and easy-to-read guide for the ambitious self-starter. Lowry, who favors buying an existing business rather than starting a new one, provides a systematic approach to the ins and outs and ups and downs of owning your own business.
His step-by-step guide to financial independence is contained in chapters with such intriguing titles as "Uncle Sam Can Help You," "How to Manufacture Customers," "Recipe for a Reputation," "How to Talk to a Capitalist," and "How to Protect Your Business from Your Buddies." Lowry not only starts you off on buying the right business, but sees you through the whole venture. The book offers guidelines on a wide range of topics, from enlisting unexpected sources of help to "winning the paperwork war" to writing a plan for expansion. Advice is given on how to find hidden bargains ("a bad business can be a good buy"); where to get financial backing; choosing accountants, consultants, salesmen; hiring employes; keeping paperwork to a minimum; giving credit and collecting accounts receivable; taking advantage of tax breaks, and protecting yourself and avoiding rip-offs.
Lowry asserts that his book has been written "to help you avoid every conceivable problem you might encounter in buying and operating your own small business . . . You can see how very possible it is for you to realize the Great American Dream of achieving success on your own terms, as your own boss, with your own business . . . Opportunities are everywhere. Take yourself in hand and get going. You can succeed as a small-business owner!"