So, You Want to Start a Business?: 8 Steps to Take Before Making the Leap

Paperback | August 20, 2008

byEdward D. Hess, Charles D. Goetz

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“Hess and Goetz present a roadmap for how to avoid the things that can cause you to stumble and how to build a business the right way.”



“When I started my graphic design business, I knew I had enough talent to impress and keep my clients, but I struggled with the day to day running of the business. So, You Want To Start A Business? is the blueprint I needed to get organized and put all the right things in place.”

–KORY BAILEY, Owner, Creative Counterpart


Build the Successful Company You’ve Always Wanted to Own!

  • Avoid the 8 disastrous operational mistakes that kill new businesses
  • Walk step-by-step through the entire process of building a winning business
  • Master 55 amazingly simple rules of business success
  • For every entrepreneur and potential previous business experience necessary!
  • Launch the winning business you’ve always wanted…or make more money in the business you’ve already started!

More than 5,000,000 new businesses are started each year…but 70% of them will fail. Now, two renowned experts on entrepreneurship identify the 8 “killer mistakes” that cause most business failures–and give you the knowledge, tools, and hands-on advice to avoid them, so you can build a business that thrives.


Unlike other books on entrepreneurship, this book focuses on the crucial operational issues associated with consistent profitability. You’ll learn how to identify the right opportunities and customers; design winning products and services; set the right prices; overcome customer inertia; avoid common day-to-day management mistakes; find and keep good employees; and finally, smoothly manage growth.


Throughout, the authors draw on real life entrepreneurial experiences, case studies, and leading-edge research. There’s nothing theoretical here: This is fast-paced, 100% practical advice you can use to make your business dreams and goals come true–starting right now.


What really makes a successful entrepreneur?

What they do, how they act...and how to find your best path to business success


Get the 3 “Ws” right from the start

What will you sell, who will buy it–and why will they buy it?


55 simple, indispensable rules for success

What you must know about customers, competitors, and your employees


The art and science of managing people, operations, and growth

Create processes, set priorities, maximize quality, measure people–and improve every day

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From the Publisher

“Hess and Goetz present a roadmap for how to avoid the things that can cause you to stumble and how to build a business the right way.” –JEFF ZEIGLER, CEO,, Austin, TX   “When I started my graphic design business, I knew I had enough talent to impress and keep my clients, but I struggled with the day to day running...

From the Jacket

“Hess and Goetz present a roadmap for how to avoid the things that can cause you to stumble and how to build a business the right way.-JEFF ZEIGLER, CEO,, Austin, TX “When I started my graphic design business, I knew I had enough talent to impress and keep my clients, but I struggled with the day to day running of the busi...

Edward D. Hess, JD, LLM, has spent most of his business life advising entrepreneurs and financing their business ventures. He is currently Professor of Business Administration and Batten Executive-in-Residence at the Darden School of Business, University of Virginia. He founded and led the Center for Entrepreneurship and Corporate Gro...

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:224 pages, 9 × 6 × 0.7 inPublished:August 20, 2008Publisher:Pearson EducationLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0137126670

ISBN - 13:9780137126675


Extra Content

Read from the Book

Praise for So, You Want to Start a Business? "I used So, You Want To Start a Business? to restructure my furniture hardware company. The book was full of applicable information that I have used and will continue to incorporate into my company. I couldn't ask for a better resource." —Adam Prestwood, Vice President, Pampco, Inc. "Practical, sensible advice to anyone starting a business. A great short course in entrepreneurship." —Billy D. Prim, Chairman and CEO, Primo Water Corporation, Winston-Salem, NC "This is exactly the kind of book first time entrepreneurs always needed but was never available. Everyone who is thinking about becoming an entrepreneur must read this book." —Dr. E.W. Leonard, Associate Dean, Executive MBA Program, Goizueta Business School, Emory University "Here is the straight story about being a successful entrepreneur from people who have been one and taught many. Clear, practical, and concise, this book delivers the goods." —Andy Fleming, Principal, Core Growth Partners, Atlanta, GA "Solid advice for building and growing a sustainable business." —Andrew Bourne, CEO, WayPoint Technologies, Phoenix, AZ "Professor Hess's book has helped me improve my services and make clients feel appreciated, respected, and most of all, like they're getting a great service at a fair price." —Sammy Starnes, Owner, Hair Concepts, Inc. "A treasure trove of information! I just started my company, and I have to say that this book helped me make the right decisions from the very beginning." —Derica Justice, Owner, Bon Bini Print & Design "This is a great practical guide with lessons and insights for anyone who wants to start a business. You will go back to it again and again." —Ned Morgens, CEO,, Atlanta, GA "Whether you are a striving young entrepreneur or a middle-aged person with the courage to trust your wits, this book is indispensable." —Ben Dyer, General Partner, Cordova Ventures, Atlanta, GA "A must read for entrepreneurs who want to know what it really takes to launch a successful small business." —Jay Myers, CEO, Interactive Solutions, Inc., Memphis, TN "A precise, pragmatic, wisdom-dripping, rich read. The authors walk the talk." —Jim Christian, CEO,, Denver, CO "A powerful book full of good how-to advice." —Philippe Sommer, Director of Entrepreneurship Programs, Batten Institute, Darden School of Business, Charlottesville, VA "This book is a great primer and an excellent reference book for an entrepreneur." —Walter Negley, CEO, TSP, Houston, TX © Copyright Pearson Education. All rights reserved.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments  xvii

About the Authors  xix

Introduction  xx

Chapter 1 Can You Be a Successful Entrepreneur? 1

What Do Successful Entrepreneurs Do? 2

Who Are Successful Entrepreneurs? 3

Two Common Paths to Entrepreneurial Success 5

Chapter One: Lessons Learned 6

Chapter 2 Basic Rules of Business Success 9

The 8 Common Start-Up Mistakes 10

Basic Rules of Business Success 18

Chapter Two: Lessons Learned 19

Chapter 3 What Is a Good Business Opportunity? 21

Pencil It 23

Example 1: The Best Sandwich Shop 24

Example 2: Children’s Clothing Shop 30

Two Different Types of Businesses 32

Estimating Your Costs 35

Chapter Three: Lessons Learned 38

Chapter 4 How Do You Choose the Right Customers? 41

The Right Customers 42

The Competition 52

Chapter Four: Lessons Learned 58

Chapter 5 How Do You Design Your Product or Service? 59

Give Customers Only What They Truly Need 60

Features or Benefits 60

What Is Value? 61

Example: Enhancing Your Product/Service Value 62

Your “Reason for Being” 66

Low Innovation 68

It’s Now Time to Build Your Product/Service 69

Can You Build or Produce It? 70

The Prototype–The Test 70

Chapter Five: Lessons Learned 74

Chapter 6 What Is the Right Price for Your Product or Service? 77

Competitive Pricing 80

Break-even Formula 81

Additional Pricing Factors 82

Chapter Six: Lessons Learned 84

Chapter 7 How Can You Overcome Customer Inertia? 97

Obstacles to a Sale 88

The Risks of Buying from You 89

Making Sales Takes Practice 92

Chapter Seven: Lessons Learned 95

Chapter 8 How to Manage Your Business 97

Start-Up Overload 98

Your Value Chain 99

Your Supply Chain 100

Your Manufacturing (Assembling) Chain 101

Why Do You Flow Chart Your Business? 102

Management by Objectives 103

Management by Exceptions 106

The Power of Simplicity 108

Measurements and Rewards 110

Stay on the Front Lines 114

Iteration 114

Make Work Fun 115

Chapter Eight: Lessons Learned 116

Chapter 9 How Do You Find and Keep Good Employees? 119

This People Stuff Is Hard 120

What Do Employees Want? 121

Why Is High Employee Turnover Bad? 121

Hire for Fit 121

Hiring Tools 122

Buy-In 123

The Rules of the Game 124

Best Practices of Managing Employees 124

Mental Rehearsal 127

Mental Replay 127

Chapter Nine: Lessons Learned 128

Chapter 10 How Do You Manage Growth? 131

Growth Can Be Good or Bad 132

The Two Absolutes 134

Process 135

Financing Growth 136

Financial Controls 137

Managing the Unexpected 137

People 138

Small Business Services 139

Check-Off 140

Legal 140

Legal Structure 140

Small Business Networks 141

Upgrading People 142

Customer Diversification 142

Growth Changes Your Job 142

Chapter Ten: Lessons Learned 145

Conclusion 147

Business Rules 148

Lessons Learned 160

Bibliography and Resources 169

Books 169

Articles 181

Information Portals 183

Author’s Commentaries 184

Index  187