The Complete Idiot's Guide to Starting your Own Business / Edition 5

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Added value CD-ROM included!

Newly revised for the ever-changing world of business, this book offers stress-free guidance for anyone who wants to turn a good idea into a good living. This edition also includes a CD-ROM featuring 100 commonly requested forms and documents essential to business start-ups.
—Completely revised and updated 10th anniversary edition of this top-selling title
—CD-ROM included, featuring 100 commonly requested forms and documents and three bonus chapters on related topics

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781592575848
  • Publisher: Alpha Books
  • Publication date: 1/2/2007
  • Series: Complete Idiot's Guide Series
  • Edition number: 5
  • Pages: 432
  • Product dimensions: 7.36 (w) x 9.04 (h) x 1.05 (d)

Meet the Author

Edward Paulson is a successful entrepreneur, business consultant, college professor, and author with more than 25 years' experience in setting up and running businesses. The author of more than 15 books and numerous articles, he frequently lectures throughout the United States.

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Table of Contents

Starting the Right Business for You     1
You Are Your New Business     3
Lifelong Employment Is a Myth     5
Cut Yourself Some Slack     5
Your Business Starts with You     6
Do You Have What It Takes?     7
What Makes a Great Entrepreneur?     8
What Are Your Strengths and Abilities?     9
What Are Your Needs?     12
Financial Needs and Goals     12
Family Motivations and Goals     14
What Are Your Spiritual Goals?     15
Escaping the Big House-Leaving Corporate America     16
What Is Your Personal Bottom Line?     18
Navigating the Critical Planning Process     21
Why Prepare a Business Plan?     22
Think of It as a Simulation     24
The Overall Plan-Writing Process     24
Being Honest     25
Getting Help     26
You'll Never Have All the Information You Need     27
The Minimum That Your Plan Must Cover     28
Dealing with a Bad Business Idea     29
Short- and Long-Term Planning     30
Your Recipe for a Professional Business Plan     33
Briefly Describing Your Business Idea     35
Your Mission: Why Does Your Company Exist?     35
The Pieces of Your Plan     38
Cover Sheet     39
Table of Contents     40
Executive Summary     40
Business Description     40
Market and Industry Analysis     41
The Competition     42
Marketing Strategy     43
Operations Plan     43
The Management Team     43
Financial Overview and Funding Needs     44
Summary and Conclusions     45
Appendixes or Supplementary Materials     46
Ethics and Your Plan     46
Finding the Money You Will Need     47
Risk and Reward Are Intimately Linked     49
Investors Give Money to Get Something Back     49
The Greater the Perceived Risk, the Greater the Required Return     50
Don't Treat Investments Personally     51
Comparing Debt and Equity Funding     52
Company Stages and Funding     53
Seed Stage     53
Startup Stage     54
First Stage     54
Second Stage     55
Third Stage (Mezzanine)     55
Harvest Stage-Exit Strategy     56
Know How Much Money You Will Need     56
Will You Make Money?     57
How Much Can You Afford?     57
The Plan Estimates Your Money Needs     58
What's Your Potential?     58
Basic Types of Funding     60
Typical Funding Action Sequence     60
Funding Out of Your Own Pocket     61
Brother, Can You Spare a Dime? Family Funding     62
Venture Capital-May Not Be for Everybody     63
Agency Guaranteed Bank Funding     64
SBA and Governmental Program Realities     64
Stock Sales (Not an IPO...Sorry)     65
Seller Financing     66
Ethics and Funding     67
For Your Plan     67
Buying Experience with a Franchise     69
Franchises: Paying for Their Experience     70
Franchising in a Nutshell     72
Getting to Know the Franchiser     74
How Long Has the Franchiser Been in Business?     75
Key Personnel, Methodology, or Arrangements     77
What About the Competition?     78
For Your Plan     79
Buying an Existing Business     81
The Benefits and Drawbacks of Buying an Existing Business     82
Buying and Selling are Similar...but Different     83
Preparing to Buy     84
Finding the Candidate     85
Finding a Company to Buy     86
Plan to Buy in Stages     87
The Sales Meetings     88
Getting the Right Professional Help     89
For Your Plan     91
Should You Start a Corporation?     93
An Overview of the Various Business Structures     94
Sole Proprietorship: Going It Alone     96
Partnership: A Business Marriage     98
Corporations: Share the Wealth     99
Public or Private?     101
Subchapter S-Corporations: Protection with a Smaller Tax Bite     102
Limited Liability Company (LLC)     104
Professional Corporations     105
State to State     106
Dealing With the Tax Man     107
For Your Plan     110
Writing Your Successful Plan     113
Determining Your Market Opportunity     115
Understanding and Assessing the Market's Influence     116
Don't Create a Market Need     118
Determine Overall Market Characteristics     119
Is the Market Growing?     120
Who Are the Major Players in Your Market?     123
How Long Will This Opportunity Last?     123
Research Data Sources Are Everywhere     124
Researching Your Plan     125
For Your Plan     121
Learning on Your Competitors' Nickel     129
Is the Competition Real?     130
Accumulating Competitive Information     131
Comparing Yourself to Them     134
Price Wars Hurt Everyone     137
Are You a Specialty Store or a Superstore?     138
Using Market Segmentation to Your Advantage     139
Cooperation Versus Competition     140
For Your Plan     141
Focused Marketing That Makes Money     143
Marketing and Sales: Linked but Different     144
Know Who Is Most Likely to Buy Your Offering     145
Target Marketing: Finding Your Best Customers     147
Finding Your Right Price     148
The All-Important Life Cycle     151
Your Marketing Message and Positioning     154
Advertising: Balancing Push and Pull     155
Mail Order and Direct Mail     158
For Your Plan     159
Getting Sales: The Lifeblood of Your Business     161
Manipulating and Selling: Not the Same Thing     163
Getting Close to Closing the Sale     164
Everyone Has to Sell, but Not Everyone Closes     164
Is Your Offering a Special or Commodity Item?     165
Is Your Customer a Likely Buyer?     166
The Nine Stages of Selling     168
The Suspect Stage-Stage 1     168
The Prospect Stage-Stage 2     169
The Entree Stage-Stage 3     169
The Discovery Stage-Stage 4     170
The Proposal Stage-Stage 5     170
Trial Close Stage-Stage 6     171
The Budget Stage-Stage 7     171
The Close Stage-Stage 8     172
The Post-Sale Stage-Stage 9     172
A Commodity Sale Versus a Complex Sale     173
Your Sales Channels     173
Distributors as Sales Agents     174
Should You Use Your Own Sales Force?     175
Selling Services Instead of Products     176
For Your Plan     178
Production Plans That Produce Results     181
Production in Product and Service Environments     182
Are You a Mass Producer or a Job Shop?     184
Linking Purchasing, Production, and Marketing Forecasts     185
Create a Production Flow Chart      187
Successful Project Management     188
Maintaining Quality     190
For Your Plan     192
The Good and Bad News About Employees     195
When You're Successful, You'll Need Help     196
Good Help Isn't Hard to Find     200
Independent Contractors     201
Putting Retired Folk to Work     203
Take Your Employee for a Test Drive     203
When a Contractor Is Really an Employee     204
More Employees, More Restrictions     205
Medical Insurance     207
Sexual Harassment     208
Solicitation and Competition     209
Interviewing Techniques     212
For Your Plan     215
Properly Handling Payroll Taxes     217
Payroll Taxes: You Can't Avoid Them, So Learn How to Deal with Them     218
Payroll Tax Overview     219
Filing and Paying Payroll Taxes     222
Tax Deposits and IRS Form 941, Employer's Quarterly Federal Tax Return     222
State and Federal Unemployment Taxes     225
Rules to Live (and Save Taxes) By     225
Using a Payroll Accounting Service     227
Accounting: How Business Keeps Score      229
Accounting 101     231
Accounting Periods     232
Sales and Costs     232
Cash or Accrual: Which Accounting Method Is Right for You?     234
The Cash Basis Accounting Method     236
The Accrual Accounting Method     236
Understanding Financial Statements     238
A Chart of Accounts     239
The Income Statement     240
The Balance Sheet     242
Cash Flow Analysis     247
For Your Plan     250
Reaping All Your Small Business Benefits     253
The Grim Truth     254
Are You Self-Employed or an Employee?     257
Differentiating Various Business Types and Taxes     259
You Still Need a Retirement Fund     262
The Standard IRA and Roth IRA     262
An SEP and SIMPLE Plan     263
Various Other Deductions     265
Home Office Deductions     265
Medical Benefits     266
A Final Word About Providing Benefits     268
Running a Successful Business     271
Cash Is Like Air for Your Business     273
When You're Out of Cash, You're Out of Business (Usually)     274
How Success Can Kill Your Business     275
Factoring, Credit Terms, and Loans     277
Factoring Receivables     277
Using Credit Terms to Enhance Your Cash Position     279
Buying on Credit     280
Taking Out a Loan     281
Applying Break-Even Analysis to Determine Startup Cash Requirements     281
Knowing When Enough Is Enough     285
Projecting Startup Cash Requirements     286
For Your Plan     287
Properly Handling Credit Card Sales     289
The Way Credit Cards Work     291
The Costs of Credit     292
Terminal Fees     293
Monthly Fees     294
Covering Your Legal Bases     296
What to Do if a Charge Is Contested     298
Banking On Your Banker     301
What Does a Bank Bring to the Table?     302
The Loan Officer Is Your Friend. Really     303
Banks Will Give You Money Only When You Don't Need It     304
Bank Loans You Can Get     306
Sell Your Banker on Your Company     308
Commercial Checking Accounts: A Different Animal     310
Enter the Small Business Administration (SBA)     311
Big Banks, Small Banks      312
International Business-Did I Mention China?     315
International Business and the Internet     317
Taking and Processing Orders     317
Giving Product Information     318
Shipping and Handling     318
Pricing and Exchange Rates     319
Making Sure You Get Paid     320
Going International-All the Way     324
Working with China     326
Some Facts About China     326
The Importance of Relationship in Business     327
The Importance of Size     328
The Challenges     328
Business Buzzword Glossary     331
The Kwik Chek Auto Evaluation Example Business Plan     349
Resources     383
Bibliography     391
Index     394
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