The book is divided into six main sections:
- Pre-Business Planning: planning for the life cycle of small business
- Start-Up: Finances, Budgets, and Numbers: what you and your banker need
- Human Resources: The People Factor: managing people
- Operations: Work Flow, Customers, and Sales: managing your office
- Building a Saleable Business and The Sale: preparing the business for transition and sale
- Transitioning to Life After Business: helping the owner transition to life after the sale and legacy issues
The unique thing about the six sections of the book is that you can start anywhere in the book depending on where you are in the life of your business. Take a moment to go through the self test of where you are in the Pre-Business Planning or Start Up phases in your business. If you are already an established business owner, take a moment to go through the questions anyway. Did you cover everything in the preplan and startup phase, or did you just wing it to get started? Are there some areas of your business that could benefit from a second look?
Section 1: Pre-Business Planning
First, there is the excitement of all the planning that goes into starting your own business. A little planning on the front end goes a long way to ensuring the dream you pictured becomes a reality. Many businesses fail because the entrepreneur is a good technician at producing a particular business service or good but not necessarily a good business person. So, if you are starting a new business, take a few minutes and learn from the experience of others who have succeeded there. Section 1 of the book will help you answer these questions:
- Do you know what type of business or service best fits your dream?
- Have you selected the right business for you?
- Have you evaluated yourself for small-business success?
- Do you have the right form of doing business (corporation, sole proprietorship, etc.)?
- Do you have the right advisers supporting you?
- Should you look at a franchise, buy another business, or start from scratch?
- Do you have a business plan in place?
- Do you have a strategic marketing plan in place?
- Do you have the correct partnership agreements in place for multiple owners?
- Do you have the right tax structure for your business to minimize income taxes?
- How do you coordinate business and family life?
Section 2: Start-Up: Finances, Budgets, and Numbers
Once you start the business, there are certain key fundamentals and tracking mechanisms you must put in place to keep things on track and grow the business. Business success is a constantly moving target, so you have to take the time to learn what your tracking mechanisms are and what your customers are telling you. Section 2 of the book will help you answer these questions:
- Do you have the right type of financing and business loans?
- Do you know how to read financial statements and understand what they can tell you about your business?
- Do you know what the key operating statistics are for your business?
- Do you know how you compare to industry standards?
- Do you know what your tax liability will be for the current year?
- Have you considered your options for commercial real estate?
- Do you have the right insurance coverage?
Take some time to really consider these questions. If you are unsure, you’ll know what questions to ask (and where to start in the book). For the established business owner, this is also a great time to look back and evaluate how you handled each step.
Watch for more information about the Table of Contents and how to order your copy of Six Steps to Small Business Success: Start, Manage and Exit Your Business
Next Week: Human Resources: The People Factor & Operations: Work Flow, Customers, and Sales