"Oh no," you say. "Don't tell me about more books I should read. I'm too busy to read!"
But if you've taken the time to read this newspaper, you probably have a few minutes more to spend with a useful, business-related book.Reading a good business book not only helps you put your problems in perspective but you may even find a solution or two along the way.
Here are some of my current favorites. Some have been around for a while. Others are brand new.
"The Ten Commandments of Business & How to Break Them," by Bill Fromm (G.P. Putnam's Sons, New York, $19.95).
Mr. Fromm, president of Barkley & Evergreen Advertising in Shawnee Mission, Kan., shares his secrets to having "more fun than you ever thought you could have at work." He assails common business myths, beginning with "the customer is king."
Instead of buttering up customers, he encourages business owners to treat their employees like royalty. When employees feel good, they will treat customers well.
Based on his consulting experience, Mr. Fromm also believes the best managers truly love people.
"Great managers hug. They have such a love for people, all kinds of people, that they can't keep their feelings inside," writes Mr. Fromm.
You may not agree with everything he says, but you'll find some terrific suggestions to help you revamp your advertising, marketing and management strategies.
On a more serious note, if you are thinking about forming a corporation, don't sign anything until you read "Inc. Yourself," by Judith H. McQuown (Harper Collins, New York, $25).
Now in its seventh edition, "Inc. Yourself" is required reading for anyone considering incorporation. Ms. McQuown, a former Wall Street portfolio analyst, provides clear, detailed answers to all your questions about corporations.
Despite the recession, about 750,000 new corporations were formed in the United States last year, which means plenty of people need the information in this excellent book.
If you really are pressed for time, how about a book with only 82 pages?
"50 Simple Things You Can Do to Save Your Customers," by Paul Timm ($6.95, Career Press, P.O. Box 34, Hawthorne, N.J. 07507) provides quick tips to put you back on the customer service track.
Mr. Timm, a management professor at Brigham Young University, offers some startling observations, including his contention that one angry customer can cause 55 others to stop doing business with you. He also provides a formula to calculate how much upset customers can cost your business.
Most of his material is pretty basic, but if your customer service skills need a quick tune-up, this book may be for you.
At $39.95, "National Book of Lists," published by Local Knowledge in San Ramon, Calif. (800-792-2665), is a bit pricey, but it does offer statistics on 2,000 companies in 50 industries, including real estate, advertising and software. Some of the categories are a bit odd,such as microbreweries and wineries, but the list of life insurance companies and venture capital firms is worth perusing.
If you are interested in selling your products or services to large companies, the lists provide a quick way to build a mailing list. Most entries include people to contact and their phone numbers.
It's not exactly a page-turner, but the "SBA Hotline Answer Book," by Gustav Berle (John Wiley & Sons, New York City, $14.95), provides all kinds of practical answers to basic small business questions.
Mr. Berle, former marketing director of the Small Business Administration's Service Corps of Retired Executives, lists a variety of government resources available to help you. The detailed appendix includes names, addresses and phone numbers of agencies in 50 states.
If you haven't run out of spare time for reading, there's one more to consider: My new book, "Succeeding in Small Business: The 101 Toughest Problems and How to Solve Them" (Penguin USA, $12), gives you a chance to catch up on any columns you've
missed, plus hundreds of tips and suggestions from successful entrepreneurs.
(For a free copy of Jane Applegate's Small Business Owner's Resource Guide, send a 29-cent-stamped, self-addressed envelope to: Jane Applegate, P.O. Box 637, Sun Valley, Calif. 91353-0637.)