If you want to start a business, you need an idea and a business model and money. Elizabeth Edwards focuses about the latter. She shows you how to cut your personal expenses, how to calculate your financial numbers and why venture capital isn’t always the best option.
What can I learn?
Is your business profitable? Before starting your business, you should check if your business model can generate enough profit. How high is your initial investment and how much does it cost you monthly to operate your business? The next step is to calculate your profit on this basis. How long does it take you to break even, i.e. you aren’t losing money anymore? You should reject your idea if it will take longer than two years.
Capital can be expensive: Before you are going to look for venture capitalists, you should think about your need of outside capital. If you can do it alone, go for it. If you can’t do it without outside money, she recommends you to thoughtfully calculate your costs. Don’t forget to include your opportunity costs for searching investors.
Know your metrics: A business runs on numbers. You should monitor your industry key metrics (e.g. page impressions for social sites) and of cause your ordinary indicators like sales, costs and profit. Even if you aren’t a numbers person, learn how to read your key numbers.
This book is an accumulation of tips but lacks the explanation of why you should do they. This is a bit of a downer. The good parts of Startup were clearly the financial and legal knowledge. If you start your business in the US this information is possible pretty valuable. Lastly, besides of the financial and legal advice most advice is out of other books like Made to Stick or Business Model Generation. I would recommend reading those, if you want to deepen your knowledge.
What should you know before starting a business? Norm Brodsky and Bo Burlingham try to answer this question. They focus on some topics from money management to hiring. The Knack is especially targeted at former sales persons.
Know your metrics: Most sales people focus on the sales volume only. This doesn’t work for your business is your profit margin is too low. Brodsky recommends to calculate your profit margins by hand to get a feeling for the numbers.
Search a niche in an old market: You should focus on an old market because you don’t have to generate demand and often the leading companies are pretty rigid. If you can find a niche which undermines these companies, you can earn a fortune.
Keep your old customers: You already know that it’s easier to sell to your existing customers than to new ones. So try to generate more profit from them.
Build a culture: You will reach a point where it is impossible to do everything by yourself. If you hire people try to hire for cultural fit. This way you will trust them more and they will know what’s important for your business.
The first quarter was extremely good. He told a story from two friends of him who wanted to start a business and he explained lots of steps and how they developed their company. Sadly, stories of other people decreased and it become more and more egocentric. The name of the book is a bit misleading, maybe it would be better if it was named “My Business Life by Norm Brodsky”.