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The Elements of Small Business

A Lay Person's Guide to the Financial Terms, Marketing Concepts and Legal Forms that Every Entrepreneur Needs

The Elements of Small Business by John Thaler
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Thinking about starting a business? Unsure about the economy? Your instincts probably mean more than a roomful economic analysis. The post-industrial, information-based economy means that there will always be some signs that trouble experts—meanwhile, the reasons for people to start their own businesses mount higher and higher. According government statistics, February 2005 saw 262,000 new jobs created in the United States. This is generally considered a good thing. But some business experts look at the dollar’s declining value against other currencies and warn about macroeconomic storms brewing ahead. Meanwhile, George W. Bush bases his argument for restructuring the Social Security system on the goal of creating an “ownership society.” Politicians debate whether “ownership society” really means anything. John Thaler thinks that it does: That building your own business is more important than ever. He’s written a practical guide that gives anyone the basic tools for starting a small business. THE ELEMENTS OF SMALL BUSINESS: A Lay Person’s Guide to the Financial Terms, Marketing Concepts and Legal Forms that Every Entrepreneur Needs (Silver Lake Publishing, 2005) covers all of the basics—from defining what your new business is to choosing the right location and marketing your good or service effectively. According to Thaler, there are hundreds of books dealing with every aspect of starting and running a small business. But most are really good at only one part of the equation; some focus on business plans, others stress the legal forms…still others dwell on raising capital. The truth is that you need to know about all of these things—and something about sales and marketing, too. Thaler has assembled useful details on all of these topics in one place. Thaler knows what business people need. He is a practicing attorney who works in small business law. And, for more than a decade, he has also been a small business owner (a specialty record company). He knows what’s it’s like to have to sign a lease quickly—and what it’s like to pack an important order yourself because everyone else has gone home for the night. Every page of THE ELEMENTS OF SMALL BUSINESS offers tips and practical advice. From these, Thaler chooses 12 points that are especially critical to anyone starting a business: 1. One of the most common mistakes in business is raising enough money to get the business started—but not having enough to advertise and market it effectively. 2. If you’re considering buying into a franchise, make sure to read the Franchise Offering Circular (a form that the government requires all franchisors to make available). And read it yourself. Good ones are written in plain English. 3. If you have partners, make sure you have a Buy/Sell agreement. Without that agreement, you may not have an automatic right to dissolve the business unless there’s been gross mismanagement or criminal activity on the part of a partner. 4. Think about a business plan as your earliest form of advertising. You may use it to raise money for the business; but you may also attract customers and partners because of it. This is especially true if the plan is clear and memorable. 5. If your business will rely on traffic (on foot or in a car), you should check the zoning ordinances in that location. There may be rules about parking or crossing the street that can make a given location less-than-choice. 6. Make sure that any lease you sign accounts for local rules and ordinances that might affect your operations. 7. Building a better mousetrap does not always result in a sale. In business, a warehouse full of the best mousetraps is the worst possible scenario. 8. Unless you have specific knowledge about a shortage in some raw material, don’t stock up on too much of anything that you need to operate. 9. Inventory management (and, to a lesser degree, the number of employees you have) is always a challenge. Either too much or too little of either can make problems. Remember the old saying among entrepreneurs: “The worst problem is no business. The second-worst problem is a lot of business.” 10. Trends are your friends. It’s better for a small business to have a small part of a growing market than 100 percent of a shrinking one. 11. Be aware that shipping and freight can be a much bigger problem for small companies than most people realize. Shipping costs can be erratic and illogical—with one company’s price several times another company’s for the same job to the same location at the same time. 12. As soon as you hire your first employee, make sure to have an employee manual that explains the policies of working at the company. This “manual” can be just a few pages stapled together. The important thing is that it says clearly what kinds of behavior are allowed and not allowed—and it’s important that every employee reads it. THE ELEMENTS OF SMALL BUSINESS is chock-full of this kind of practical information. And people who’ve read early versions of the book love its structure and style. According to Kendall Watson, a partner in California-based Harris Management and Business Consulting, the book is “informative and complete. I wish I’d had a guide like this when I was first starting out. “Thaler throws out tedious textbook style to provide the reader with practical situations and true stories,” says Ivan Dryer, CEO of Laser Images, Inc. “It’s witty and interesting.” John Thaler is an attorney in Southern California who specializes in small business law. He also operates a small specialty record company. He has written extensively on technical matters for attorneys and business executives. THE ELEMENTS OF SMALL BUSINESS is his first book intended for a general audience. Silver Lake Publishing is an independent, non-fiction press specializing in books on small business, personal finance, security, history and politics. THE ELEMENTS OF SMALL BUSINESS is part of Silver Lake’s Taking Control series of books for entrepreneurs and people thinking about starting their own businesses. THE ELEMENTS OF SMALL BUSINESS: A Lay Person’s Guide to the Financial Terms, Marketing Concepts and Legal Forms that Every Entrepreneur Needs by John Thaler, Attorney at Law $24.95 368 pages 8” x 10”/trade paperback ISBN: 1-56343-784-8
Silver Lake Publishing; July 2005
369 pages; ISBN 9781563438059
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Title: The Elements of Small Business
Author: John Thaler