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Summer Reading the Small Business Way

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Summertime is a great time to catch up on reading.

While some are only interested in perusing beach books, entrepreneurs may relish some helpful business books.

I regularly receive books from various publishers and authors, and want to share some recent titles with you.

Boss Life: Surviving My Own Small Business. Paul Downs. Blue Rider Press (a Penguin Random House imprint). Paperback. $16.00

The author started making custom furniture in Pennsylvania in 1986 and has written this memoir about a year in the life of the boss of a small business that has employees (there are an estimated 7 million such enterprises). It’s an honest account of the ups and downs of being in business. It’s easy to see why Forbes says it’s the best business book of the year. Downs is a very good writer, having penned the New York Times “You’re the Boss” column for a number of years. From January through December 2012, he discusses what happened to his business. For example, he started the year with a bank balance of over $137,000 but no new contracts in the pipeline. He closed the year with a higher bank balance and $500 year-end bonuses for his employees. He talks about numbers, marketing, customers, and people in a fascinating way. A good read!

Be Your Best Boss: Reinvent Yourself from Employee to Entrepreneur. William R. Seagraves. Perigee (a Penguin Random House imprint). Paperback. $15.00

For anyone thinking of making the transition from having a job to owning a business, this short book covers the essentials for getting started. Written by the founder of Catchfire Funding, which helps to underwrite aspiring business owners, he tells the reader how to assess whether to go full steam ahead, and the alternative ways that this can be done (e.g., buying an existing business, buying a franchise, going into partnership). He breaks down what to expect for the first 6 months, 6 months to 2 years, and 2 years and beyond. The book may be of particular interest to those age 40 and older who want to start a business.

Guerrilla Marketing to Heal the World. Jay Conrad Levinson and Shel Horowitz. Morgan James Publishing. Paperback. $24.95

I met Shel Horowitz at a business dinner many years ago and we lost touch. I was delighted when his new book crossed my desk. Its focus is how business can make a profit solving hunger, poverty, war, and catastrophic climate change. In other words, doing good can be profitable. The book covers the advantages of doing the right thing, adopting a socially conscious marketing mindset, and becoming a green company. Even if your company isn’t in a business that’s out to heal the world, it can still embrace “green” strategies to save money and benefit from other ideas in this book.

The Crowdfunding Handbook. Cliff Ennico. AMACOM. Paperback. $19.95

If you’re interested in raising capital through equity crowdfunding, this book is a how-to guide for you. Cliff and I served on a panel at an eBay convention a long time ago and remained in contact through the years. He has been a guest on my radio show from time to time, most recently discussing crowdfunding. With this book he’s succeeded in presenting in understandable terms the confusing rules for equity crowdfunding that entrepreneurs need to know in light of SEC rules.




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