If you are one of the lucky entrepreneurs taking some time off this summer, you’ll feel less guilty if you take along a few business books.
The new “Dilbert” book on management is about the only light-hearted book on the racks. My reading list is a bit on the serious side, but you’ll learn something while working on your tan. You should be able to buy these books at your local bookstore, but if you can’t find them, I’ve listed the publisher’s toll-free telephone number whenever possible.
Tom Gillis, a veteran Houston entrepreneur who happens to be a CPA and an attorney, uses an alphabetical, easy-to-read format for “Guts & Borrowed Money” (Bard Press, $19.95, 800-945-3132). This thick paperback covers everything from bonuses to vendors. It’s a bit basic for experienced entrepreneurs, but if you are in a start-up mode, check it out.
Speaking of borrowed money, former banker George Dawson has some invaluable, practical advice for business owners trying to woo bankers. He offers a detailed description of what bankers really want to know when you fill out loan applications and what to do if they say no to your loan request. His inside view of the banker’s world is very enlightening. It’s all in “Borrowing to Build Your Business” (Upstart Publishing Co., a division of Dearborn, $16.95, 800-621-9621).
Even if you are not looking for a job, “Ask the Headhunter,” by Nick Corcodilos (Plume, $14.95), offers a very interesting approach to selling yourself to anyone - including new clients or customers. The book, due out in August, features a section on how to identify and contact companies you want to work for or with. His advice on getting through to decision-makers can help anyone in business.
His best advice: At your first meeting with someone, act like an employee - not an outsider - and immediately solve a real problem for the person across the table. This means you have to do your homework and find a real problem to solve. I tried this approach during negotiations for a new project, and it was impressive.
Before trying to make millions in cyberspace, spend $14 on “How to Make a Fortune on the Internet,” by Martha Siegel (HarperPerennial). Siegel, a Phoenix-based attorney, explains the good, the bad and the ugly aspects of Internet marketing and commerce. She explains the jargon and what you should know about creating a web site. The web is constantly evolving, but this book has the basics.
If you haven’t yet experienced your 15 minutes of fame, check out “101 Ways to Promote Yourself,” by marketing specialist Raleigh Pinskey (Avon Business $5.99). This handy paperback has all the names, addresses and phone numbers you need to raise your profile. Pinskey also explains how to publish a newsletter, write a book or teach a class.
“Hire, Manage & Retain Employees for Your Small Business” won’t keep you up at night, but it may keep you out of trouble. The book is part of the CCH Inc. Small Home Office Group series of how-to books. It has tips on interviewing people and explains what kind of pre-employment tests you can require. It also has a section on incentives and how to keep employees happy and motivated. The company, based in Riverwoods, Ill., has a web site for more information: www.toolkit.cch.com.
If you plan to buy any products or services for your office, buy “The Essential Business Buyer’s Guide,” by the staff of the Business Consumer Guide (Sourcebooks, $18.95). It has all the information you need to save time and money on office services and equipment.
Fresh college graduates frustrated by the job market should pick up a copy of “No Experience Necessary: The Young Entrepreneur’s Guide to Starting a Business,” by Jennifer Kushell (Princeton Review, $12). Kushell is founder and president of the Young Entrepreneurs Network, which has members in more than 40 countries. The book provides lots of tips on how to “look older, stronger and more successful until you actually are.”