Start Your Own Business [Book Review]

The topic of the book is pretty obvious. If you want to start up a business, this should give you some insight over the steps required for a successful startup launch and its survival in the market. And with over 650 pages of information, the book will take you through all the steps one will experience in such an endeavor: Initial Ideas, Market Planning Financing, Launch and Marketing, and of course….. Profit.

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I acquired this book when I was throwing around the idea of starting a rock climbing gym in my home town area in Wisconsin. This was in tandem to my pursuit on the finances required in starting such a development. There are a few things online pertaining specifically to the climbing gym market, but a lot is more “advertising” from consulting companies to “help” you start your business. The one thing that I learned is that climbing gyms requires A TON of up-front money to acquire a 3-story building, re-work the building’s interior, acquire all the polyurethane holds, and THEN add the finishing touches before opening it to the public ….after to settle the insurance costs for such a sport complex. The costs would be $500,000 minimum, which I don’t have  ….yet.

But now that I got a new job in laser development and applications (with a lot more technical potential in terms of career growth), I don’t have to finish this book anytime soon (though I have already got 60% through it). Nevertheless, I still really enjoyed reading this book. I think I marked a spot every 20 pages in the book for future reference, and there are still ideas that I can relate to in my current job in sales engineering.

One of the strongest themes throughout the book is the topic of “finding the right market.” Before you start, one must know who you are aiming your business at and how to best reach them. Even before your doors are open, it is wise to know your audience, whether it is local (store) or global (online) and how it competes with current options available. Or in my case ….. how it would fare in an environment which has no prior exposure to such a opportunity.

I was looking into a climbing gym in the Green Bay / Appleton are in Wisconsin, which currently has NO climbing gyms. Perfect right? While such an establishment would attract older teens and young professionals, it does attract a more niche audience in that population. Would there be enough interested individuals to financially support such a large initial establishment. It would be one thing if I already had the money, but an interest rate on a $1M loan is another concern.  And if I build a smaller gym (or just a bouldering/yoga gym), would the reduced level of interest individuals still support the gym and potential expansions in the near future?

Regardless, work still continues after the the doors officially open for a small business. How to you keep your employees involved as a positive support team for your startup? What legal and accounting steps are required to stay up to spec with local laws and tax rates? And in what ways do you need to shift gears if you see an opportunity to strengthen your image to your target audience or expand it to others?

As a small bonus in this book, there are a few pages dedicated to “note taking” and “example spreadsheets” to write down your ideas. They are not perfect, but they are a good starting point when you do fill out your own.

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This reference book is not limited for a specific type of business. There are some chapters that will be more important to some vs. others. Thus, it’s OK to skim some sections based on your real goals. With a rock climbing gym in mind, the sections on supply chain managements and online presence are not as relevant to my business proposal. However, these are significantly more important to those wanting to produce and sell products online.

If you are someone like me who has almost NO experience in small business management, then this book is a really good start (though I cannot say for experience as a successful businessman). You’d think that I would know more on this topic, since my dad actually runs a dairy farm that he built from scratch, but it was never my cup of tea due to my unfavorable stance on raising farm animals and pets. However, I did get really good at operating heavy machinery and picking rocks in a crop field during my youth.

Side note: This copy of the book had a weird imperfection, as observed as the blue tape in the top right corner. This was observed on two pages. I assumed that the page is at the very end of a roll of paper during the printing process. And while it didn’t fully cover any of the words in the book outside of the page header, it made a “permanent bookmark” effect in the book that I kept finding myself flipping to continuously….which I initially thought was on purpose for something important….hahaha.

But still….business cards are important. But then again, just about everything in this book is crucial.

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