How to start your own business!

Title : Entrepreneur’s Guide to the Universe

Author: Robert Raymond

What are your goals in life? Do you have a really innovative idea for a business? Do you think that there is a definite need for your store, product or skill? Remember, a business does not have to have a product; it could be a specific service to your community, or a product that no one can get in the area where you live. Every business or idea for one has to have a need and a target population that you want to attract. Remember, everyone loves candy, food, clothes and even traveling. If your business is to take off you need to research your area, do your homework and of course before getting started read the Entrepreneur’s Guide to the Universe by author Robert Raymond before you begin.

Let’s pretend that I want to start my own business from the bottom up. I think I have a great idea to open my own bookstore for children’s books in an area where there are schools, small children, teenagers and college students. My first task after deciding my idea, and choosing my target audience is to great a financial plan that would work. I also have to contact vendors to purchase the books that I want featured in my store. Before doing that I would create a list of genres, visit larger bookstore chains, check out the best sellers on the children’s bestseller list on the NY Times Book Review Section and create a visual plan for the store. I would also enlist the aide of my niece Faith who is an account to help create my financial plan and projection for profit profile.  As far as a partner in my store, I would ask my husband to help finance this venture, create a business agreement. He is the only person that I would trust as my partner. Once the framework is in place I would definitely make sure before choosing a location that there were no large chains nearby and that the books that I featured in my store would be on the reading lists of the schools in the area and include textbooks as well hoping to give the children and the schools an easier way to purchase their books for their school and classroom libraries.

The premise of this book is educating the reader about how to create your own business. Author Robert Raymond speaks to the reader and engages you in the process. It is like having your own private conversation with the author and your individualized how-to course in creating your own company.

What else did I learn about creating my own bookstore? My business has to be properly financed. I need employees that are dependable, productive and enjoy working in a bookstore. Knowing that most people like to read and children love story time, providing them with a weekly story hour would definitely promote sales, a specific author’s work. Having some of my employees assist the children in picking out books and possibly have a table with leveled books to making it easier.

Raymond relates his real life experiences dealing with loan officers, banks, uninspired employees and my favorite  about lawyers and their billable hours. Lawyers never seem to lose and whether they call you or you them, they get something. Working with an attorney a few years ago he stated that his retainer was a certain amount for a specific number of hours. However, he did nothing to earn what he claimed he was going to do in order to get the services I needed for my mom. I did the legwork, made the phone calls, collected and xeroxed the copies  of the documents needed. Therefore, I decided I should get paid or compensated for my hours of hard work that he wanted to get paid for. He did not charge for phone calls but for copying, mailing, stamps and preparing any letters or paperwork needed to complete what I needed to have done. But, when the final tally was made I explained why he needed to cut his costs and his fee since I did the work and he sat back and waited for my faxes. In the end he finally realized that I might be right, but it took some convincing to have him reduce his fee. When dealing with him or any other attorney, if they called me, I would even preface a phone conversation by asking since you called me, is this call going to cost me? After a while, I made a deal with my lawyer to have a set charges included for all calls. Billable hours, my foot, they charged for every second and I began timing the calls and making sure they did not go longer than 5 minutes. From dealing with bankers, to creating employee incentives this book is a great resource not just for starting your own business but also for anyone who wants to improve or as the author states create Change or Die! Change is necessary even if everything is perfect. Sales need to be increased, profits should rise and leaving everything status quo won’t get you more. If your business model is not succeeding and you don’t want to give it up, making changes are necessary.

Every good business owner needs to be a positive motivator. As an educator the biggest challenge was to get my reading students interested in the novels and stories I wanted them to read. This was the key to not only creating an environment that would encourage them to participate and focus but would create an effective style of managing my reading program. As Raymond describes his style of management with his employees and the different approaches you might take he reminds the reader that personality traits are based on many factors and the different managerial styles that will increase productivity. In order to find out what they are you need to read Chapter 6.

Finally, in order to run a bookstore or any business you need stock. You need vendors that you can trust and rely on. Buying an existing business you might use those vendors already in place. A newer business requires negotiating with the vendors and doing your homework. Before deciding which to use you need to ask yourself the questions provided on page 115 and go from there.

Working part time in a bowling center as a telemarketer I learned that the most important component of any business is customer service. Just think about the movie Miracle on 34th Street when the Santa at Macys sent customers to their competitors when they did not have the item the customer wanted. Having to call bowlers to ask if they wanted to return to the league for the fall season might sound easy enough, but required listening to their complaints about the league officers, rising costs of bowling or trying to get the unhappy bowler to switch to a different league on another night. As our author stated providing exceptional service begins with understanding what your audience expects and then over-delivering on their expectations. I could not offer the bowler a discount but I could offer three free games during the week if he/she agreed to bowl on another night. Customer service requires more than a discount or perks. As you read Chapters 8 and 9 you will learn what it takes to improve not only your customer service but enhance the skills of your employees to meet the needs of the public.

The most valuable questions are on page 152. The most important is number one: Are you willing to do whatever it takes to make your company a success? If your answer is yes then the rest will fall into place. I have always been a workaholic and an overachiever which helps me identify with the author.

Change or Die: making a change no matter small is not really difficult. Just make them. Remember there are five key issues to remember that are repeated throughout this book and the key to your success.

1.    Do you have a product or service that satisfies a need better than the competition?

2.    Is your business properly financed?

3.    Do you have good employees and are you keeping them happy and productive?

4.    Is your customer service keeping your customers happy?

5.    Do you have a good supply chain?

The rest is up to you. Go ahead: Don’t hesitate and become the Entrepreneur you always wanted to be. Success is in your hands: GO FOR IT!

This is a great book that speaks to the reader and is written in clear and simple terms engaging the reader in the shared stories and humorous dialogue holding your interest from start to finish. I am going to send a copy of this book to my nephew who owns his own gym in Florida and is expanding. The ideas in this book will definitely help him make the needed changes and understand how to do it successfully. Customer service has become very prevalent in hospitals and ER’s. I think the nurse case managers and supervisors would learn a lot about customer service and how to treat patients when they spend hours waiting to be seen and are frustrated and upset. This book gets a FIVE BUSINESS STAR REVIEW!

Fran Lewis: reviewer