I’ve just discovered a surprisingly good book for aspiring entrepreneurs. In Kick Start Your Dream Business: Getting It Started and Keeping You Going, business consultant and teacher Romanus Wolter documents the process he uses to help previously untrained entrepreneurs clarify and deploy their ideas for anything from publishing businesses to juice bars.
What’s so impressive about Kick Start Your Dream Business? Here — from a sidebar in his chapter “Getting it Made” — is an example of how Wolter melds the “touchy feely” with practical and sophisticated business advice:
GO TO THE SOURCE
Sherry was producing custom gift books commemorating weddings and other special events. Her books were like scrapbooks for special events. However, she was having trouble making a profit because the covers she was using were very expensive.
I mentioned that she could save money by sending an RFQ for the covers directly to manufacturers. She asked me where she should send the RFQ. I talked to her about finding manufacturers in the library and on the Internet, and then another idea came to me.
One block from my office was a great bookstore. I suggested she go to the bookstore, use her 30-second commercial to tell the staff about her product, and then ask for contacts for book cover manufacturers. She went for it.
In less than an hour, a clerk provided her with a list of book cover manufacturers. After developing and sending out an RFQ, one of the manufacturers offered the exact covers she was using for half the price! She ended up saving over $6 per book just by asking for help.
However, Sherry did not stop there. She sent a nice thank-you flower bouquet to the bookstore clerk and mentioned that she was going to send her friends to the store. Guess what? The clerk offered to put her marketing materials in the bookstore, opening up a great marketing channel. Remember, what goes around, comes around.
This one example illustrates two of the key things that Wolter does better than most “how to follow your dream and start your business” books.
First, the “follow your dream” attitude is linked with solid business techniques. Solid business concepts like “RFQ” and “saving over $6 per book” are often sadly missing from other touchy feely business books.
Second, the business research methods are tied to dream-fulfilling work. Many “how to start your own business” books stick to standard businesses: restaurants, consulting, widget-making. Wolter shows you that he’s working with real, unique people with real, unique dreams. It’s a lot easier to believe his advice because he shows you all the places it’s getting used.
Lastly (and not illustrated in the above quote), Kick Start Your Dream Business seems to be a very well-designed and practical tool for the aspiring business person. Each chapter includes both exercises and reference information. From what I can tell, Wolter presents the exercises and information in a sequence that will really help the entrepreneur effectively explore, refine, and lock down what s/he needs to know and do.
By comparison, other books that do the “series of exercises” approach don’t seem to have the same coherence and thoroughness. While other books that use the “complete reference” approach fail to give the reader a good path for walking through and using all the information contained.
I have a new client who I think will really benefit from the Wolter approach — “dream like a child, decide as an adult.” I look forward to giving her a copy of Kick Start Your Dream Business and helping her work through it in the coming months.