Launching a business? Great! Read my book to understand some of the fundamentals of the process. The following books, websites, and other resources will help you with further details. While this list includes all the resources from my book, I have added to this list, and will continue to review and add more tools over time. I've provided links so that you can click directly on the title, whether to access the cited website or purchase the book from Amazon.

Getting Started/Finding Your Calling
Planning, and First Steps
Financial Literacy
Managing People (including yourself)
Mastering Management
Continued Personal and Business Growth
Getting Started/Finding Your Calling

Repacking Your Bags and The Power of Purpose by Richard J. Leider. While no book can fully limn your purpose in life, Leider does a lovely job of helping you think through your most important passions and motivations, and provides a set of exercises that links your passions and values to your calling. While Lieder focuses his exercises on jobs and careers, his fundamental approach applies to starting a company as well.

Amar Bhide essays in Harvard Business Review on Entrepreneurship (HBS Press). While many of the essays in this collection are excellent guides to some of the critical issues you must consider when conceiving your company, I would pick one above all. Bhide's essay "The Questions Every Entrepreneur Must Answer" is a classic in which Bhide proposes a simple structure asking you to assess your personal goals, your strategy for how well the business achieves these goals, and then runs through how well you are equipped to execute this strategy. Bhide reminds individuals that your business will require different strengths and skills from you as it grows, and illuminates how your role as the founder must evolve as the business grows. I would also recommend his other essays in this collection-but start with this one. If you get really excited by Amar's writing, which I think is brilliant, check out his website.

Working Solo by Terri Lonier (John Wiley & Sons) While Lonier's books focus on the single business practitioner, the core value of her advice relates to most start-ups. Lonier provides innumerable tips on everything from how to set up an office to how to incorporate your business. And she sheds light on the mindset you'll need to maintain and operate a business on your own.

Start Up by William J. Stolze (Career Press, Franklin Lakes, New Jersey) and Beating the Odds in Small Business by Tom Culley (Fireside).

Two books of wisdom on tactics from veterans who have founded their own successful start-ups. Each provides the helpful voice of experience steering you through some of the early events to be expected at this point in the game. Stolze has counseled thousands of individuals, and his experience shines through. Culley does a particularly good job of debunking myths about the start-up process and rooting the enterprise in the nuts and bolts of running a business rather than the grand ideas or abstract notions of what it takes.

Governmental Resources

There are a number of governmental and other organizations that provide terrific help for entrepreneurs in the form of resources, mentors, and information.

The federal government makes a great deal of effort to educate and help small business owners. Information and, in some cases, financial support are available not only from the Small Business Administration, but from government agencies as diverse as the Federal Reserve, the Department of Labor, and the Federal Trade Commission.

The comprehensive guide to government resources is Crossing the Bridge to Self-Employment: A Federal Microenterprise Resource Guide, published in May 2001 by the Federal Interagency Working Group on Microenterprise Development. This group consists of representatives of thirteen government agencies, including the Small Business Administration, the National Women's Business Council, the federal banking and credit union regulators, the Federal Housing Finance Board, and the departments of the Treasury, Agriculture, Commerce, Labor, HUD, and Health and Human Services.

The Small Business Administration is the government's central online resource for guidance on starting your business, loan programs, and other resources. The SBA has a terrific, expansive, inclusive site that answers questions, educates you on the theory and practice of small business details, lists local offices, and gives you information on virtually every federal program that may help you out. The site's Starting button lets you research local legal requirements, essentials of a business plan, tax issues, and more. Through the site, you can find a mentor or even find a business opportunity. Better yet, the site has links to all these resources.

The Financing button is your link to the SBA's seventeen different loan programs, including specialized programs for microloans, loans to support pollution control, loans for veterans, and several programs to support community development enterprises. The link also takes you to information about accessing the secondary market and about Small Business Investment Corporations, government-sponsored enterprises that provide venture capital to entrepreneurs. And, the site contains an excellent kit covering most of the logistics of getting started.

The Service Corps of Retired Executives matches up veteran executives with new business owners for counseling and mentoring. SCORE also offers guides on financing, setting up a home office, online purchasing, and many other topics. SCORE's online Business Resource Index provides links to dozens of sites to help you with everything from calculating a loan payment to recruiting employees to conducting in-depth market research.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and your local Chamber of Commerce can be good resources for networking and business development. Local Chambers of Commerce often have mentoring programs of their own, and may offer members deep discounts on everything from office supplies to liability insurance.

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Planning, and First Steps

Innovation and Entrepreneurship by Peter Drucker (HarperCollins.) In this short yet dense book, the preeminent management thinker of this century shares some of the most insightful thoughts anywhere on how entrepreneurial companies (or units of companies) operate. While much of the book is aimed at managers in large companies, Drucker's understanding of the sources of innovation is invaluable. Moreover, my very personal opinion is this: Chapter 15, simply titled "The New Venture," is the single most intelligent and useful analysis of what ventures need that I've ever read. While this book won't help you figure out what financing to seek or how to incorporate your business, it will provide critical guidance in thinking through the fundamentals of what you are doing.

Some Thoughts on Business Plans by William Sahlman (included in HBR on Entrepreneurship, cited in last chapter.) While this essay is primarily addressed at people seeking high-growth high-stakes companies, his framework for analyzing the key criteria in the success of new ventures is invaluable. Sahlman shares shrewd and lively insight on the factors that account for success (people first, then opportunity, then external context, and then the deal,) while debunking conventional wisdom on the way ("on a scale of 1 to 10, business plans rank no higher than 2 as a predictor of success.")

Business Plans for Dummies by Paul Tiffany and Steven D. Peterson (IDG Books.) In this particular case, the title of this crisp book couldn't be farther from the truth. Tiffany and Peterson write in simple language and provide useful exercises. They manage to cover a great deal of ground, ranging from sophisticated financial instruction to veiled references to such arcane fields as the diffusion of innovation. This book serves a helpful role in using the business plan as a discovery process for readying your enterprise.

Anatomy of A Business Plan by Linda Pinson and Jerry Jinnett (Dearborn.) This large-format workbook does a terrific job of explaining the various elements of a business plan. And it provides several detailed examples of completed plans by actual companies. This guide serves as the best resource for constructing a detailed plan that meets the formal expectations of potential investors, customers, and other supporters.

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Financial Literacy

Small Time Operator by Bernard Kamoroff ( Bell Springs Publishing) This is my all-time favorite resource for divining the critical information needed when it comes to your start-up's basic details. Kamoroff is an accountant by training, and his best advice comes from his mastery of the fundamentals of a small business's primary financial requirements. So while he is crankily insightful on basic issues such as whether you should start a business in the first place, he is virtually all-knowing on such key matters as keeping the books, paying your taxes, and tracking cash flow. This is a great book for advice on keeping your books-and running your business in the process.

Managing by the Numbers by Chuck Kremer and Ron Rizzuto with John Case (Perseus Publishing) This gem limns the theory and practice of financial management for small companies. Set aside the fact that some of the basics may apply to larger or slightly more mature companies than yours. Read this to understand how to use the financial life of your company as the basis for critical operational decisions. Kremer et al. show how you need to understand three financial statements (balance sheet, income statement, and cash flow) to truly evaluate your company's performance. Moreover, you really start to control this function when you learn how the three statements fit together.

The Great Game of Business by Jack Stack with Bo Burlingham (Doubleday Currency.) "The best, most efficient, most profitable way to operate a business is to give everybody in the company a voice in saying how the company makes money and a stake in the financial outcome, good or bad," writes Stack. He goes on to explain how his company, Springfield Remanufacturing, has pioneered the practice of "open book management," in which employees are taught how the company makes money and then charged with contributing individually. Though aimed at larger organizations, Stack's book is an excellent primer on how to find and communicate the right numbers for your company; and, more importantly, how to make financial literacy for all into an operating managerial practice.

Self-Defense Finance for Small Businesses by Wilbur M. Yegge (John Wiley & Sons) By far the least reader-friendly of the lot, Yegge's dense primer still merits a place on your shelf. That's because he always places his financial lectures in the context of how you will use the tools. So what could feel like an academic text becomes an invitation to become more financially adept. His appendix on tips for negotiating justifies the cost of the book.

Angel Investing: Matching Start-up Funds with Start-up Companies-A Guide for Entrepreneurs and Investors by Mark Van Osnabrugge and Robert J. Robinson (Jossey-Bass.) A terrific guide for tapping into one of the most useful forms of investors: so-called angel investors. While a trifle academic, this book still delivers a wise lesson to entrepreneurs in how to locate, secure, and use angel investors. I like the book for two primary reasons. First, it emphasizes that different companies have different capital needs, and helps readers understand how to pick the source and amount that are right for them. And second, the authors provide a comprehensive appendix of resources to help you locate existing angel networks.

The Seven Laws of Money by Michael Phillips (Shambhala) "Do It!," Phillips says, "Money will come when you are doing the right thing." That's the first law in this simple, spirited, and hugely insightful guide to money from the man who developed MasterCard as a vice president of the Bank of California. Phillips helps reveal the neuroses and emotions that money triggers in individuals, and provides a lovely, soulful context to the ways in which people relate to this intangible force. Above all, Phillips provides nice insight into the role money should and shouldn't play in pursuit of bigger things.

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Honest Business by Michael Philips and Salli Rasberry (Shambala Publishing.) This engaging little book tempers a seemingly blind optimism about business as a force for good with great examples of small companies that conduct healthy businesses by following honest principles. It's a given that the book considers honesty a good and moral quality for a business. The book goes much further, however, by explaining how this code becomes an operating set of rules for running a meaningful business.

Guerilla Marketing by Jay Conrad Levinson (Houghton Mifflin.) Levinson coined the phrase "Guerilla Marketing" and did a brilliant job of building it into a brand, a series of books that detail a bootstrapped approach to marketing, finance, selling, and more. The flagship book, Guerilla Marketing, takes an extremely broad approach. It considers marketing to comprise just about every choice you make in producing your product and getting it in the hands of customers, from conceiving and naming the product to manufacturing it and then getting the word out. Within this framework Levinson offers countless ideas and suggestions for cheaply and effectively cultivating and serving regular customers.

Bootstrapping packages from Inc. Magazine. You want great stories and lively tips on leveraging your spirit and resources? Check out the annual bootstrapping packages from Inc. Magazine, whose annual roundup of great companies started with less than $1000 is an inspiration and a recurrent tutorial on how small companies can perform alchemy. (Go to the Inc. web site and search for "bootstrapping.") The package is a vivid reminder that most companies get started with a minimum of capital and a maximum of ingenuity and hustle. And it provides proof that even billion-dollar companies can be formed with literally nothing down.

A Goal is a Dream with a Deadline by Leo Helzel and Friends (McGraw-Hill.) This short, quirky book of aphorisms could easily fit into just about any chapter as a resource. Yet since Helzel structures his thirty-plus years of insight about starting a company as a series of short aphorisms on how to think and act like an entrepreneur, I like to think of it as a guide to the bootstrapping mentality. A couple of my favorites: "The difference between women and men entrepreneurs is gender," and "Entrepreneurship is like parenting. If you wait until everything is right, you'll never get started."

Working Solo by Terri Lonier (Wiley.) Another great collection of strategies for making the most of what you have. This book focuses on the single entrepreneur, a distinction that is particularly useful in devising ways for you to increase your own productivity and effectiveness. Lonier is also particularly good at addressing the personal issues you confront not only in bootstrapping but also simply as a company founder.

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Steven Covey (Fireside); and The Effective Executive by Peter F. Drucker (Harper) Some may find Covey's lessons for becoming more effective too abstract and moral for their taste (at times I confess to be one of them). Yet the value of this book outweighs such a criticism. Your personal productivity is at the heart of your organization. And your ability to leverage your personal energy pays off both directly (in how you leverage the organizational capacity) and indirectly (in how you model effective behavior to employees and other community members). Covey's lessons may be treacly, but they work.

While Drucker's contribution skews toward executives in larger organizations, he still provides crystalline insights into how individuals in any organization can leverage their efforts dramatically. Best of all, unlike other guides for personal effectiveness, Drucker tailors his advice to one's behavior as the leader of an organization. Effective executives do the following: know where their time goes, gear their efforts to results rather than to work, build on strengths, concentrate on the key areas leading to outstanding results, and make effective decisions.

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Managing People (including yourself)

Leadership from the Inside Out by Kevin Cashman (Executive Excellence Publishing.) Cynics will find this book's focus on discovering your personal areas of mastery and developing the quality authenticity to be, for lack of a better word, "touchy-feely." And that's a good thing. For managing and leading others, especially in the setting of a small business, inexorably deals with the owner's personal emotional baggage. This book helps you learn to acknowledge your own feelings and strengths-in the context of leading others.

Danger in the Comfort Zone by Judith M. Bardwick (Anacom.) Bardwick's book is as "hard" as Cashman's is "soft." I've heard many entrepreneurs swear by this book, in which Bardwick argues that too many employees are driven by an ethos of entitlement-an expectation of comfort and security from their corporation irrespective of how well they perform. Such an attitude drives their bosses into a fearful defensiveness. And, ultimately, both parties shy away from an environment in which individuals earn their keep, take responsibility, and face up to the consequences of their behavior. Bardwick offers helpful tactics to move both bosses and employees toward a responsible and mutually acceptable atmosphere of productive work.

The Entrepreneur's Guide to Business Law by Constance E. Bagley and Craig E. Dauchy (West Educational Publishing Company.) Bagley and Dauchy's comprehensive guide to the various legal issues you confront as a small business owner does a nice job of avoiding dry legalese. They discuss your legal considerations in the context of specific business decisions you may face, and they have a good sense of where these legal considerations fit in with the broader goal of building a business. I cite the book in this chapter because their chapter on human resources is a great succinct guide to the various issues you need to monitor as you hire employees.

1001 Ways to Reward Your Employees by Bob Nelson (Workman Publishing.) I don't care how corny this book may appear to be. Simple and direct, Nelson's book is one of the most important reminders to praise, praise, praise your employees for doing good work. Recognition may be the most important benefit of all. Nelson's plethora of tips, many of them extremely low-cost, proves that the bootstrapping ethos applies just as strongly to managing people as it does to any other resource.

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Mastering Management

The E-Myth Revisited by Michael Gerber (HarperBusiness) "The technical work of a business and a business that does technical work are two totally different things!" says Gerber, who argues that the vast majority of entrepreneurs who launch companies based on a technical expertise eventually find themselves hating that expertise. "Knowing the technical work of their business becomes their single greatest liability." According to Gerber, technologists who found companies take on a dozen jobs that they hate, chores that distract them from their calling. And unless they can find a way to integrate the function of manager with that of entrepreneur and technologist, their company will fail. This didactic book has found a huge and devoted audience through its sensible insight into how all entrepreneurs must evolve-or step aside.

"Taming the Beast" by David Whitford (Inc. Magazine, April 1996. It's rare to find a magazine article with the depth and wisdom of a full-length book. Yet this piece by veteran journalist Whitford gives a rich account of how entrepreneur Paul Eldrenkamp made the painful transition from being owned by his business to owning it. Not just a source of information, this article can help inspire you to confront the emotional and practical barriers to growth that are created by your love for your business.

Trust in the Balance by Robert Bruce Shaw (Jossey-Bass.) Managers develop trust in organizations through achieving business results, acting with integrity, and demonstrating concern, says Shaw. He shows how trust grows dynamically when leaders place trust in individuals-who are given the means to earn that trust through performing. Shaw skews toward larger companies, yet his advice on cultivating a high-trust culture is very germane-perhaps more so-to small companies.

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Continued Personal and Business Growth

Startup by Jerry Kaplan (Houghton Mifflin) This book is my favorite narrative account of someone launching a business. Written by a technical wizard who became possessed with the idea of creating a company-and industry-based on handheld computing, Kaplan's tale is instructive on many levels. Not merely for the nuts-and-bolts material it delivers on how money gets raised and spent in high-tech circles, but also for the personal and emotional insights that accompany "The Ride." So why doesn't it belong, say, in the Resources in Chapter 1? Because Kaplan charts the emotional journey he traveled as his prospective company raised $75 million, took baby steps toward viability...and failed. Wisely, Kaplan scaled a steep learning curve in the process, and shares the myriad lessons he picked up on the way. A great story of learning from failure (though some would just call his adventure a practice run for a successful company).

Managing Corporate Lifecycles By Ichak Adizes (Prentice Hall Press.) Adizes's target audience of consultants and organizational change leaders may not match with your early company concerns, yet his fundamental point represents a cautionary note for the future. Adizes points out that companies go through a natural growth cycle, which often runs at a different pace from the learning capacity of the company founder. By alerting yourself to this phenomenon, learning to spot the early warning signs, and anticipating your options when faced with this juncture, you can certainly mitigate some of the pain.

The Origin and Evolution of New Businesses By Amar Bhide (Oxford University Press.) A very academic book that is nonetheless one of the most insightful about how companies are formed and grow. Drawing from a wealth of case histories that he has prepared as a professor at Harvard Business School and Columbia University, Bhide reveals the varied paths your specific business can take.

The Fifth Discipline: The Art and Practice of the Learning Organization by Peter Senge (Doubleday/Currency.) Some business thinkers joke that Senge's book is the best-selling classic that nobody has read. The Fifth Discipline has earned a reputation as a difficult read because it takes such an ambitious crack at defining the disciplines necessary for individuals and groups to learn collectively. It can be a tough book, but I heartily endorse that you read it nonetheless. At the heart of this book, Senge helps you learn to manage as a creative act rather than a reactive one. In the context of your business, he helps you move from simply putting out fires to aspiring to and realizing higher goals. Managers (and entrepreneurs) can learn and grow through the process of growing a company. They can do so joyfully, creatively, for the good, argues Senge. It's a message I endorse wholeheartedly.

This book has one more great gift to entrepreneurs. At the heart of practicing organizational learning is the art of systems thinking, which is the art of seeing how different agents are ultimately related to one another-how cause and effect are related in the larger picture. Such a holistic view of a system is naturally afforded to the entrepreneur, whose system is often smaller and more immediate. While managers in large companies may have a more complicated set of people and conditions to integrate, they nonetheless play a similar role as an entrepreneur: seeing the big picture and helping all the players create more by understanding how they all fit together.

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Book cover



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Just Managing – articles that Tom wrote for The Industry Standard and some Business Articles written for Inc., Fortune Small Business, Harvard Management Update, and other places.


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