The Complete Idiot's Guide to Starting Your Own Business / Edition 4

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Now with a CD-ROM!

Newly revised for the ever-changing world of business, this book offers stress-free guidence for anyone who wants to turn a good idea into a good living. This edition also includes a CD-ROM featuring commonly requested forms and documents essential to business start-ups.

- Completely revised and updated edition of this top-selling title
- CD-ROM included, featuring commonly requested forms and documents
- Nearly 1.5 million new businesses are formed in the U.S. each year, most of which are "small businesses"
- One in 12 Americans will start his or her own business at some point, according to the Jan./Feb. 03 issue of The Atlantic Monthly

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781592571383
  • Publisher: Alpha Books
  • Publication date: 12/2/2003
  • Series: Complete Idiot's Guide Series
  • Edition description: Older Edition
  • Edition number: 4
  • Pages: 432
  • Product dimensions: 7.36 (w) x 9.02 (h) x 0.98 (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. He is the author of ten books and numerous articles and frequently lectures throughout the United States.

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Table of Contents

Part 1 Starting the Right Business 1
1 Your Business Starts with You 3
Understand That You Are the Company--at First Anyway 5
Do You Have What It Takes? 5
What Makes a Great Entrepreneur? 7
What Are Your Strengths and Abilities? 8
What Are Your Needs? 10
Financial Needs and Goals 11
Family Motivations and Goals 13
What Are Your Spiritual Goals? 14
Escaping the Big House--Leaving Corporate America 15
What Is Your Personal Bottom Line? 17
2 Business Planning Basics 19
Why Prepare a Business Plan? 20
Think of It as a Simulation 21
The Overall Plan-Writing Process 22
Being Honest 23
Getting Help 24
You'll Never Have All the Information You Need 24
The Minimum That Your Plan Must Cover 25
Dealing With a Bad Business Idea 26
Stages of Company Growth 27
Idea Stage 28
Planning Stage 28
Funding Stage 28
Startup Stage 29
Rampup Stage 29
Evolution Stage 30
Sustaining Stage 30
Short- and Long-Term Planning 31
3 Preparing Your 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 39
Executive Summary 40
Business Description 40
Market and Industry Analysis 41
The Competition 41
Marketing Strategy 42
Operations Plan 43
The Management Team 43
Financial Overview and Funding Needs 44
Summary and Conclusions 45
Appendixes or Supplementary Materials 45
Ethics and Your Plan 45
4 Methods of Funding 47
Risk and Reward Relationship 48
Investors Give Money to Get Something Back 49
The Greater the Perceived Risk, the Greater the Required Return 50
It's Not Personal with Investors ... Well, It Kinda Is 50
Comparing Debt and Equity Funding 51
Company Stages and Funding 53
Seed Stage 53
Startup Stage 53
First Stage 54
Second Stage 54
Third Stage (Mezzanine) 55
Harvest Stage--Exit Strategy 56
Know How Much Money You Will Need 56
Will You Make Money? 56
How Much Can You Give Up and When Do You Make It Back? 57
It All Comes Down to Numbers 57
What's Your Potential? 58
Basic Types of Funding 59
Typical Funding Action Sequence 59
Funding Out of Your Own Pocket 60
Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?--Family Funding 62
Venture Capital--May Not Be for Everybody 62
Agency Guaranteed Bank Funding 63
SBA and Governmental Program Realities 64
Stock Sales (Not an IPO ... Sorry) 64
Seller Financing 66
Ethics and Funding 66
For Your Plan 66
Part 2 Matching Your Plan to a Legal Structure 69
5 Picking a Business Type 71
An Overview of the Various Business Structures 72
Sole Proprietorship: Going It Alone 74
Partnership: A Business Marriage 75
Corporations: Share the Wealth 77
Public or Private? 79
Subchapter S-Corporations: A Little Bit of Protection 80
Limited Liability Company (LLC) 81
Professional Corporations 82
State to State 83
Dealing With the Tax Man 84
For Your Plan 87
6 Important Corporation Realities 89
Creating a Corporation 90
Laying Down the Law: Articles of Incorporation and Bylaws 92
Articles of Incorporation: The Basic Ingredients 92
Bylaws: The Basic Ingredients 96
Bylaws and Articles "In a Can" 97
Establishing a Board of Directors 97
The Right to Vote 100
Shareholder Voting Rights 100
Board Member Voting Rights 101
Shareholder Proxy 102
7 Working at Home or Away 105
Home Office: Pros and Cons 106
Keeping Your Overhead Low 107
When Is It Time to Move Out? 109
Location, Location, Location 110
Lease, Rent, or Buy? 113
For Your Plan 115
Part 3 Writing a Great Plan 117
8 Defining Your Market Opportunity 119
Understanding and Assessing the Market's Influence 120
Fill an Existing Market Need ... Don't Create One 122
Determine Overall Market Characteristics 122
Is the Market Growing? 124
Who Are the Major Players in Your Market? 127
How Long Will This Opportunity Last? 127
Research Data Sources Are Everywhere 128
Researching Your Plan 128
9 Learning from Your Competitors 131
Is the Competition Real? 132
Accumulating Competitive Information 133
Comparing Yourself to Them 136
Price Wars Hurt Everyone 138
Are You a Specialty Store or a Superstore? 139
Using Market Segmentation to Your Advantage 141
Cooperation Versus Competition 141
For Your Plan 142
10 Smart Marketing 145
Marketing and Sales: Linked but Different 146
Who Is Your Market? 147
Target Marketing: Picking Your Customer 149
Name Your Price 150
The Life Cycle 153
Your Marketing Message and Positioning 155
All About Advertising: Pushing and Pulling 157
Mail Order and Direct Mail 159
For Your Plan 160
11 Sales: The Money Funnel 163
Manipulating and Selling: Not the Same Thing 164
Getting Close to Closing the Sale 165
Everyone Has to Sell, but Not Everyone Closes 166
Is Your Offering a Special or Commodity Item? 167
Is Your Customer Qualified? 167
The Nine Stages of Selling 170
The Suspect Stage--Stage 1 170
The Prospect Stage--Stage 2 170
The Entree Stage--Stage 3 171
The Discovery Stage--Stage 4 171
The Proposal Stage--Stage 5 172
Trial Close Stage--Stage 6 172
The Budget Stage--Stage 7 172
The Close Stage--Stage 8 173
The Post-Sale Stage--Stage 9 173
A Commodity Sale Versus a Complex Sale 174
Your Sales Channels 175
Distributors as Sales Agents 175
Should You Use Your Own Sales Force? 176
Selling Services Instead of Products 177
For Your Plan 179
12 Production Planning That Gets 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 189
For Your Plan 191
13 Lions and Tigers and Employees, Oh My! 193
When You're Successful, You'll Need Help 194
Good Help Isn't Hard to Find 198
Independent Contractors 199
Putting Retired Folk to Work 200
Take Your Employee for a Test Drive 200
When an Employee Is Really an Employee 202
More Employees, More Restrictions 202
Medical Insurance 204
Sexual Harassment 205
Solicitation and Competition 207
Interviewing Techniques 209
14 The Tax Files: Payroll Taxes 213
Payroll Taxes: You Can't Avoid Them, So Learn How to Deal with Them 214
Payroll Tax Overview 215
Filing and Paying Paryroll Taxes 218
Tax Deposits and IRS Form 941, Employer's Quarterly Federal Tax Return 218
State and Federal Unemployment Taxes 220
Rules to Live (and Save Taxes) By 221
Using a Payroll Accounting Service 222
15 Making Sure You're Making It 223
Accounting 101 225
Accounting Periods 225
Sales and Costs 226
Cash or Accrual: Which Accounting Method Is Right for You? 228
The Cash-Basis Accounting Method 230
The Accrual-Accounting Method 230
Understanding Financial Statements 231
A Chart of Accounts 232
The Income Statement 233
The Balance Sheet 235
Cash Flow Analysis 240
Part 4 Running a Healthy Business 243
16 Cash Is More Important Than Air 245
When You're Out of Cash, You're Out of Business (Usually) 246
How Success Can Kill Your Business 247
Factoring, Credit Terms, and Loans 248
Factoring Receivables 249
Using Credit Terms to Enhance Your Cash Position 251
Buying on Credit 252
Taking Out a Loan 252
Applying Break-Even Analysis to Determine Startup Cash Requirements 253
Knowing When Enough Is Enough 255
Projecting Startup Cash Requirements 257
For Your Plan 257
17 Charge: Making Credit Card Sales Work 259
The Way Credit Cards Work 260
The Costs of Credit 262
Terminal Fees 263
Monthly Fees 264
Covering Your Legal Bases 266
What to Do If a Charge Is Contested 268
18 Collecting Customer Debts 271
Collection Problems Come with the Territory 272
Avoidance Is the Best Remedy 273
Products Versus Services 275
Cash First--Credit Later 277
Financial Reports and Their Limitations 279
Collection Letter 280
Know Your Rights When It Comes to Collections 282
Working with Collection Agencies 283
19 Business Banker Realities 287
What Does a Bank Bring to the Table? 288
The Loan Officer Is Your Friend. Really 289
Banks Will Give You Money Only When You Don't Need It 290
Bank Loans You Can Get 292
Sell Your Banker on Your Company 294
Commercial Checking Accounts: A Different Animal 295
Enter the Small Business Administration (SBA) 296
Big Banks, Small Banks 297
20 Automate from the Start 299
Automate the Routine and Savor the Creative 301
Typical Automation Strategies 302
Get Connected: Computers and Phones 304
Computers: Buy or Rent 304
Treat Your Phone Like a Lifeline--It Is! 305
Local Area Networks, Electronic Mail, Faxing, and Security 308
Planning for Obsolescence 310
In a Nutshell 310
21 Making Great Use of the Internet 313
Internet Unique Realities 315
Setting Up Business on the Internet 317
Web Jargon 317
Finding an Internet Service Provider 318
Naming Your Domain 320
Creating Your Website 321
Being Found on the Internet 325
For Your Plan 326
22 International Business--It's a Small World
A The Kwik Chek Auto Evaluation Business Plan 329
B Resources 365
C Business Buzzword Glossary 371
D Bibliography
Index 389
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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 24, 2004

    The Classic Small Business Handbook

    Starting Your Own Business has been a top seller for many years and for good reason: it's the classic handbook for business owners. For the 4th edition, this book has been totally updated. If you have the 3rd edition, it is worth buying the new one. An indispensable guide to those thinking about buying a business. Buy this book before you begin the process -- it is a must-have volume. If you are in business, keep this volume handy -- it addresses the most important challenges facing business owners today. Highest Recommendation.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 16, 2004

    A Business Book That Really Pays Off!

    I wanted to let you know how helpful your book has been to me in my business. I am a CPA and partner in a Software Consulting business and I thought the book would be too basic. Boy was I wrong! You did a great job of making things practical and effective. The CD was a real bonus! The most helful chapters for me were those dealing with Sales and Marketing. K. Murray; Oklahoma

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 13, 2004

    Useful and easy to understand

    I have used this book to help my friend get his painting business more organized and business focused. The terminology is explained so that you do not have to be a business major to follow along and to learn the important things to keep your company alive and growing. The CD also has some useful general forms.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 15, 2004

    A Must Read for any budding Entrepreneur!!

    A wonderful guide to help anyone start their own company. It is easy to read and filled with interesting personal stories of the author. I am now using it as a references guide when I have questions about a certain area of business, such as finance or marketing. I just flip to the chapter and Ed Paulson shows me what to do! It's like having a seasoned business consultant at your fingertips!!

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