Read an Excerpt
Congratulations! You've taken the first step toward owning your own business. You've picked up this book. Perhaps you're skimming through it in the bookstore and deciding whether to buy it. Or maybe you've already purchased it and you're sitting on your living room sofa or at your kitchen table-probably with a cup of coffee close at hand-and you're hoping this book holds the key to your dreams of self-employment success.
This is the perfect time to start your own business. Not so many years ago, entrepreneurs were generally considered to be unemployable crackpots who were working for themselves because nobody else would have them. Today, being an entrepreneur is a hallmark of success, a badge of honor that tells the world you've made it-and to paraphrase the old Frank Sinatra song, you've made it your way.
Start Me Up
The entrepreneurial spirit may have gotten a swift kick-start from the baby boomers who first dropped out of the capitalistic rat race and then decided to drop back in-on their own terms. Thousands of boomers have rethought success, put a twist on the traditional ways of doing business and established themselves as entrepreneurial achievers. But boomers are not the only ones starting and running their own businesses. Generation Xers make fabulously creative and savvy entrepreneurs, and Golden Agers, those with the time and wisdom to devote to new enterprises, are also terrific self-employers.
Today, 23 million small businesses swell the ranks of American enterprise, with about one million start-ups each year. We wrote this book to give you the tools to join them. Being an entrepreneur is fun, exciting and rewarding. And, as our book title says, it can be inexpensive: Most of the businesses we present can be started for well under $5,000.
The majority of these businesses can easily be homebased. (In fact, we recommend you start out that way. It's less expensive and more rewarding-so much so that a SOHO, a small office/home office, is one of the hottest trends in small business today.) Many of these businesses can be started part time and, with the proper nurturing, grown into full-time operations. Within the parameters of the business you choose, you can set your own hours, your own rules and your own earnings. You can build a better world by sharing your happiness and success with your family and your community. (Grumpy, unfulfilled people don't make good neighbors.)
It's All You
Which brings us back to you, thumbing through this book and hoping it holds the key to your success.
It does. But not by itself-because the real key to success is you. Being an entrepreneur means mega-doses of creativity, persistence, drive and plain old hard work. It also means having a heck of a lot of fun, being your own person and being your own boss. It's one of the most exhilarating things you can do for yourself and your family.
It's also one of the scariest. Suddenly there's no kind employer taking care of you with benefits like health insurance and paid vacations. There's not even unemployment compensation. You can't call in sick (especially when you're the only employee), you can't let somebody else worry about making enough to cover payroll and expenses, and you can't defer that cranky client or intimidating IRS letter to a higher authority. You're it.
So how do you know if you've got the right stuff? Through brainstorming, soul searching, and discussions with family and friends.
First, think about why you want to start your own business. Decide which one of these is your primary motivation:
* Financial security
* A less stressful lifestyle with fewer rush-hour miles
* The possibility of making a living at something you enjoy, like a craft or hobby
* The need to earn an income while staying home with the kids or an elderly parent
* You see a need in your community and a way to fill it.
* You're just not the work-for-somebody-else type.
All of these are valid reasons for starting your own business, and they're all situations where you can have your cake and eat it, too-achieve both your financial and your lifestyle goals, and smile indulgently at your friends still in the rat race.
Get The Facts
Next, consider exactly what starting your own business entails. Unless you develop a way to spin straw into gold, you're not going to get rich overnight. There will be times when you'll burn the 3 a.m. oil and times when you'll wish you could clone yourself. If you're going into business for yourself as a get-rich-quick scheme, make a U-turn. It's not going to work. And if you don't like responsibility, take that same U-turn. But if you view starting your own business as a series of goals to be met, challenges to overcome, and fun to be had, then you're on your way to success.
We've designed this book to help you make the most of your business start-up. We start off with "Business Basics," which tells you everything you need to know to get up and running, from penning a winning business plan to romancing the bank for financing to blowing your own public relations horn.
Don't know what kind of business to start? Don't worry. We'll also explore 100 terrific businesses you can start for less than $25,000. We've arranged them in "Interest Categories" so that if you know the kinds of things you like doing, you can go right to that section. With 20 different categories, there's plenty to choose from. If you're a kid at heart and you love working with children, for instance, check out "Kids' Stuff." If your garden is the envy of everybody in the neighborhood, look into "Green Thumb." If you're a die-hard briefcase person who loves the thrill of corporate life but doesn't want to live it 9-to-5, check out "How To Succeed In Business." And if you've always wanted to be a private eye, delve into "Super Sleuths."
But don't confine yourself to the categories that jump out at you. Read, or at least skim, through them all. Some businesses can cross boundaries-for instance, we've got "Collection Agency" in "Paying The Piper" because it deals with bill-paying. But it could also fit in with "Super Sleuths" because a collection agent has to be something of a Sherlock Holmes, performing skip traces to track down errant debtors. And you never know when reading about one business can spark an idea for a totally new company.
The Inside Scoop
For each business, we give you everything you'll need to know to decide whether it's the one for you. You'll get:
* The Inside Scoop: What this business is all about, how it works, its advantages and disadvantages, and industry facts and figures at your fingertips
* Essentials: Any skills, special knowledge or background you'll need to make this business a success
* Tools of the Trade: The equipment, licenses or permits you'll need to get the business on track
* Money Talk: Start-up costs, potential earnings, and how much you can charge
* Pounding the Pavement: Who your customers will be and how and where to find them
* What's Next: Beginning steps toward starting this business, including organizations, books and other places to go for assistance, plus franchises and business opportunities
But that's not all! To help you get the most from this book, and to show you that it really is possible to get out there and be successful, we're giving you more. We've added 25 "Weekend Warrior" boxes that will give you ideas for inexpensive businesses you can start and run on a part-time basis, on weekends, in the evenings, or whenever you've got a few free hours to have fun and earn extra income. You can start most of them for under $500. And we've included another 25 boxes called "A Star Is Born"-success stories of entrepreneurs who have trod the same path you're setting out on and flourished.
Still standing in the bookstore? Take this book to the register and get it home. If you're already home, take a sip of that coffee and get reading. Next up: "Business Basics"!