Reading Business Books – A Must-Do for Entrepeneurs

As a business owner, one of the most important things you can do to boost your business and improve your professional skills and knowledge is to take the time to keep up with the latest business literature.

As an entrepreneur, it’s easy to feel like the challenges you face every day are unique to your situation. However, it is very likely that other professionals have faced, and overcome, many of the same challenges. There are so many great publications geared toward helping entrepreneurs just like you learn to deal with the day-to-day personal and professional challenges they face. Time you spend keeping yourself current with business literature is definitely time well spent. It is an investment in your business and in yourself.

Whatever your challenges are, you are likely to find great business publications, authored by successful professionals and consultants, that can provide valuable insight into dealing with whatever business challenges you are facing at any given time.

Suggested Topics Include:

The following list represents just a few of the many types of business literature that can help you hone your professional skills.

Business Networking: Books such as Million Dollar Networking and Nonstop Networking by Andrea Nierenberg provide great ideas for improving your business by learning to expand your network of business contacts.

Conflict Management: When you own or manage a business, dealing with conflict is an inevitable part of your job. Books such as the national bestseller Crucial Confrontations, written by Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan, and Al Switzler, provide sound guidance for learning how to deal effectively with conflict.

Entrepreneurship: Dive Right In, the Sharks Won’t Bite by Jane Wesman is a great resource for those who are in the process of starting a new business, as well as for those who want to continue to improve their existing businesses.

Hiring Employees: Every time business owners are faced with adding a new employee, they wish they knew more about how to make the best choices from among the pool of applicants. Hire With Your Head by Lou Adler provides invaluable information about how to build great teams by using performance based hiring strategies.

Public Speaking: Does the thought of speaking in front of a group of people make you nervous or even terrify you? As a business owner, cultivating powerful presentation skills can be an excellent way to promote your business in your community and via the media. Publications like The Confident Speaker by Harrison Monarth and Larina Kase can help you learn how to overcome your public speaking fears.

Tip for Fitting Business Reading Into Your Busy Schedule

Entrepreneurs are notorious for taking care of everything and everyone except themselves. Most entrepreneurs will benefit greatly from making the time to focus on their own physical and mental well being, and most are also adept at multi-tasking. Since you’re probably already very good at juggling multiple tasks, why not put some of that ability to work for yourself? It’s fairly simple to combine the exercise your body needs with acquiring knowledge that can help you lead your business in an even more successful direction.

Get a treadmill or elliptical trainer, and set aside thirty minutes each day for yourself. While you are exercising, listen to the latest business books on your MP3 player, or read if you are coordinated enough to handle a book and the exercise equipment at the same time. Your health and your stress levels are likely to improve dramatically, and you will be maximizing the use of your time!

Three Key Survival Skills for New Business Owners

The first year of a new business is the toughest. It’s the make-it-or-break-it year. The challenges a new business owner faces on a daily basis require three key survival skills: self-reliance, self-direction, and resilience. No matter how brilliant the business idea, without these three skills entrepreneurs risk failure.

Self-Reliance

It’s a fact of life that every small business owner wears many hats to fill all functions: operations, sales, marketing, finance, human resources-even janitor and chief coffee-maker when needed. Unlike life in corporate America, where each employee has a specialized area of expertise, a new business owner must excel in all of the disciplines required to keep a small business running smoothly. The revenue drain of hiring employees can spell disaster for struggling new businesses.

Self-reliance means more than wearing many hats. It also means depending on self for motivation, discipline and decision making and accountability. The true entrepreneur doesn’t need a cheering squad to keep going. The self-reliant business owner is highly skilled at “picking himself up by the boot straps.” Without that all-important sense of self-reliance, critical decisions will be delayed and opportunities will be missed.

If you find yourself lacking self-reliance, do a total skills inventory to identify the gap that is holding your business back from prospering to your expectations. Rate yourself on a scale of one to four on each skill needed to run your business. Identifying which skills you are deficient in is the first step toward getting help to solve the problem.

Self-Direction

One of the toughest challenges for new business owners is strategic planning: the ability to plan for multiple contingencies to reduce risk of failure. The self-directed entrepreneur analyzes market conditions to anticipate setbacks and defines alternative revenue sources to avoid costly earnings slumps.

Equally important, the self-directed business owner should be efficient in executing daily, weekly and monthly activities crucial to maintaining a continual sales pipeline and revenue stream. A successful entrepreneur needs no supervisor to keep him on track.

Unfortunately, not many people excel at both strategic planning and day-to-day tactical efforts. If you are an entrepreneur who gravitates to “the big picture,” daily and weekly task lists will help keep you on track toward your revenue goals. Invest in tools to minimize your busy work so that important data like customer contact information can be easily accessed, yet maintained with minimal effort.

On the flip side, highly detail-oriented business owners without a strategic plan suffer from lack of direction. Make time at least quarterly to consider questions like: “What could I do long-term to improve the efficiency of my operations?” or “What could I be doing differently to attract the kind of customers I prefer?”

Resiliency

While it is often true that persistence pays off, resiliency is a more essential skill to new business owners. Resiliency is the ability to change direction when needed. It is the ‘bounce back” effect that is truly necessary to avoid business failure.

In business, change is constant:

* Economic conditions can reduce consumer spending

* Shifts in consumer tastes make your product out-of-date

* Improvements in technology make your inventory obsolete

Any or all of these things can mean increased competition and loss of market share for your business. You have to be prepared to deal with them–before they happen.

Those who lack resiliency fall victim to self doubt that all too often means the end of a promising new business. To increase resiliency, practice the old-fashioned skill of “getting back on the horse.” When things don’t work out as planned, do not stop to anguish over the situation. Immediately consider the best alternative actions to take. Take action as soon as possible. Even a less-than-perfect action plan will get you moving in a positive direction and avoid the stall of self doubt and despair.

A new business owner who builds up his or her self-reliance, self-direction and resiliency will greatly increase the odds of surviving that first year in business. And after the first year, your survival skills will ensure that you are well on your way to many more years of success.

Starting a Business – Tips to Test Your Readiness

Being your own boss is wonderfully exciting, but running a business isn’t for everyone. Starting a business comes with certain challenges.

The most common reasons people decide to start a business is because they want to be self-sufficient, become wealthy, or change their lifestyle.

Many writers would like to use their writing and editing talents to make a living for themselves. Perhaps, that’s you! If so, you may be wondering if you are cut out for the endeavor and if you can find enough clients and make enough money to at least pay your mortgage.

What sacrifices and risks will I have to take to be successful? How will I balance family and business? What’s going to happen to me if this venture doesn’t work out? These are common questions and fears any entrepreneur has to face when looking at self-employment.

To determine whether business ownership is for you, here are some questions you might want to ask yourself. Answer as honestly as possible. This will give you an idea of your level of preparedness.

  1. Am I a leader or a follower? If you are not a self-starter or need someone to tell you what to do next, this could be problematic if you are the only decision maker in your company. It requires self-discipline to operate a business. You have to be able to manage your time well, focus on tasks, and make good decisions.
  2. Do I have social support of family and friends to accomplish my goals? The more support you line up when starting your business, the better off you will be in the long run. Having a family member or close friend to brainstorm with can help take the pressure off the everyday decisions of starting your business. A spouse who is jealous of the time you spend on your business will probably not give you much encouragement to pursue your goals.
  3. Am I physically capable of starting and running a business? Health issues or having an unstable family situation or personal life may worsen if you put yourself under the stress of starting a business.
  4. Am I willing to invest my own money and work long hours for little pay, sacrificing personal time and lifestyle, maybe for years? You may go from working 40 hours a week to 14 hours a day. You will eventually be able to make a living at writing, but the first year or two may not show much of a profit.
  5. Have I made proper provisions for income and insurance (health and life) while waiting to achieve business success? You will need at least one year of income saved up while you launch your business and begin to start turning a profit. Many people start out by writing part-time while keeping their day job. This makes for an easier transition into full-time self-employment. Some companies will allow you to keep your health insurance when you leave the company, but it may be at a higher rate. Check into this before you pull the plug on your day job.
  6. Do I have up-to-date working knowledge of any technology necessary for efficient operation in order to keep pace in the business world? Do I possess the necessary skills and abilities to start a business? Is my current education and experience sufficient? You may need to take classes or purchase office equipment to facilitate your business. Get the logistics in place first. There are many online networking groups that will provide feedback and assistance for writers learning the trade.

For an in-depth analysis of your readiness for starting a business, see [http://www.sba.gov/newcourseprimer/index.html] The Small Business Association has a self-paced, online tutorial that can be completed in about 30 minutes.

The better prepared you are, the better chance you have of being successful in your venture.