Self-help books make profitable reading

Succeeding in small business

August 26, 1991|By Jane Applegate | Jane Applegate,Los Angeles Times Syndicate

There's still time before Labor Day to squeeze in a little summer reading. If you bring a small-business book along with you on your weekend getaway, you won't feel so guilty about taking time off.

If you are an entrepreneur looking for homespun humor and inspiration, check out "In Business for Yourself," by Bruce Williams with Warren Sloat (Scarborough House, $19.95).

Williams, a popular radio host, owns several businesses. He fills the book with his own experiences to help novice business owners cope with all the problems they face.

"The people who are making the big money in the United States are the people who own their own enterprises," Williams writes. "Many more people are making a half-million dollars a year in 'small business' than are top corporate executives in 'big business.' "

You might have the best product or service on the planet, but if no one knows about it, you are sunk. "The Advertising Handbook" by Dell Dennison and Linda Tobey (Self-Counsel Press, $8.95) can be a helpful resource for any business owner baffled by advertising and promotion.

The book helps you decide whether to hire an advertising agency and explains how to make the most of radio, newspaper and television advertising. This readable, comprehensive guide also covers direct mail, usually the first sales approach small businesses try.

Self-Counsel's business books are among the most affordable and helpful on the market. If you can't find them in bookstores, write to the company for a catalog: 1704 N. State St., Bellingham, Wash. 98225.

Once a company is up and going, keeping it afloat becomes your greatest challenge. "The Small Business Survival Guide: How to Manage Your Cash, Profits and Taxes" by Robert E. Fleury (SourceBooks, $17.95) describes innovative ways of managing cash flow and accounting problems. Running out of money is one of the most common causes of small business failure, and this book can help you gain control of your cash flow.

Fleury also presents an interesting "no-entry accounting" system designed to simplify your record-keeping. The system is based on keeping track of the information required to file a Schedule C (business) income tax return. The key is to use a "sort box," which holds receipts divided into specific categories.

If you like the system and want to try it, the book provides ordering information for the $39.95 product. You can write to SourceBooks at P.O. Box 372, Naperville, Ill. 60566.

If you're one of the thousands of executives and middle managers finding yourself out of work this summer, here are a couple of terrific books to check out. After the shock of being fired subsides, many experienced executives decide to market their particular skills by starting their own consulting service.

If you're thinking about this option, "Selling Your Services, Proven Strategies for Getting Clients to Hire You or Your Firm," by Robert W. Bly (Henry Holt & Co., $24.95) is the book for you.

Bly, a veteran copy writer and author, provides upbeat, practical tips for anyone trying to sell their services.

Most professionals feel very uncomfortable when they have to do this, but Bly assures readers: "For you -- the service provider -- selling is the means, not the end."

The book teaches you how to overcome "your price is too high" and 16 other common objections. It describes six easy ways to generate business leads and teaches how to follow up with prospects.

Once you have set yourself up as a successful consultant, you might consider producing your own seminars to make big money. Howard L. Shenson, a highly regarded consultant to consultants, says the adult education business is one of the nation's fastest-growing industries.

In 1988, people spent $3 billion to $4 billion on seminars, workshops, conferences and training programs, according to Shenson, who has an office in Woodland Hills, Calif. "How to Develop and Promote Successful Seminars and Workshops," by Shenson (John Wiley & Sons, $17.95, paperback) provides everything you need to get into the seminar business. It includes a matrix to help you decide what subject to present and a variety of sample ads.

So, you've read all the right books and your business is soaring. "Take Your Company Public!" by Drew Field (New York Institute of Finance/Simon & Shuster, $24.95) can help you figure out how to raise the money you need to expand.

Although about 700,000 companies are formed each year, only about 300 raise capital through initial public offerings, according to Field, an attorney and CPA who has raised more than $100 million for companies through direct marketing of securities.

Field believes that "now is actually a very good time to go public." In the book, he sets out several creative ways to raise money, including the use of telemarketing to reach potential investors.

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