Small businesses are the backbone of the economy.

The truth of this statement can be traced throughout the history of any community. The harder truth is that starting a business (even a small one) can be difficult and a big risk. If you are wanting to strike out on your own, you may not want to just dive in and feel around for success, but what a time to start planning your next business venture than during Money Smart Week!

Here are some titles that will help you formulate your plan to get your business off the ground.

Company of One: Why Staying Small is the Next Big Thing for Business by Paul Jarvis

Paul Jarvis left the corporate world when he realized that working in a high-pressure, high-profile world was not his idea of success. Now, he is comfortably self-employed, making a life on a small, lush island off of Vancouver. There is no longer the stress of an environment constantly demanding more productivity, more output, more growth, more than what Paul could give and still be happy with his work and career. So, Paul Jarvis wrote a book that explains how you can find the right pathway to do the same, all on your own.

Company of One is a refreshingly new approach centered on staying small and avoiding growth, for any size business. Not as a freelancer who only gets paid on a per-piece basis, and not as an entrepreneurial start-up that wants to scale as soon as possible, but as a small business that is deliberately committed to staying that way. Staying small can give you the freedom to pursue more meaningful pleasures in life and avoid the headaches that result from dealing with employees, long meetings or worrying about expansion.

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Become Your Own Boss in 12 Months by Melinda F. Emerson

Whether you’re newly unemployed, sick of office life, longing for a change or just wanting to finally turn your business idea into reality, you can follow your dream and make your passion your profession. Using her experience as founder of an award-winning production company, Melinda F. Emerson shows you how in this practical month-by-month guide to getting your business off the ground.

Inside, you’ll find the timetable and steps you need to take to become a successful CEO of your own venture, including:

  • Month 1: Meet with potential venture capitalists
  • Month 3: Set a one-year marketing budget
  • Month 5: Select a logo
  • Month 9: Purchase customer relationship management software
  • Month 11: Prepare your launch day press release

Next year at this time, you could be calling the shots at your dream job. You supply the energy, an idea and elbow grease—and this book will supply the plan. 

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The Lean Startup by Eric Ries

The Lean Startup approach fosters companies that are both more capital efficient and that leverage human creativity more effectively. Inspired by lessons from lean manufacturing, it relies on “validated learning,” rapid scientific experimentation, as well as a number of counter-intuitive practices that shorten product development cycles, measure actual progress without resorting to vanity metrics and learn what customers really want. It enables a company to shift directions with agility, altering plans inch by inch, minute by minute.

Rather than wasting time creating elaborate business plans, The Lean Startup offers entrepreneurs—in companies of all sizes—a way to test their vision continuously, to adapt and adjust before it’s too late. Ries provides a scientific approach to creating and managing successful startups in an age when companies need to innovate more than ever.

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Strategize to Win: The New Way to Start Out, Step Up, or Start Over in Your Career by Carla A Harris

Whether you’re starting out, striving toward a promotion or looking for a new opportunity, Wall Street veteran Carla Harris knows better than most that the working world isn’t what it used to be. In Strategize to Win, she gives readers the tools they need to get the engine revved, get “unstuck” from bad situations, redirect momentum and position themselves to manage their careers no matter the environment. 

With her trademark galvanizing advice, Harris shines a light on ideas that are often obscured or murky, offering lessons on identifying and making the most of your work profile (are you a Good Soldier? a Leader? an Arguer?); preparing for a career change without additional schooling or having to lose your current placement; honing three essential skills industry leaders possess (and how to get them); tuning into unspoken cues and thriving through change. Introducing a new way of planning one’s career in five-year units, Strategize to Win distills battle-tested and step-by-step tools that Carla has used to launch and sustain her own successful career and help others move forward, recover from setbacks and position themselves for success.

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The Art of the Start 2.0 by Guy Kawasaki

Whether you are an entrepreneur, intrapreneur or not-for-profit crusader, there’s no shortage of advice available on issues such as writing a business plan, recruiting, raising capital and branding. In fact, there is so much, many startups get bogged down to the point of paralysis. Or else they focus on the wrong priorities and go broke before they discover their mistakes. 

In The Art of the Start, Guy Kawasaki brings two decades of experience as one of business’ most original and irreverent strategists to offer the essential guide for anyone starting anything, from a multinational corporation to a church group. By the time Guy founded and became CEO of Garage Technology Ventures, a venture capital firm, he had field-tested his ideas with dozens of newly hatched companies. From raising money to hiring the right people, from defining your positioning to creating a brand, from creating buzz to buzzing the competition, from managing a board to fostering a community, this book will guide you through an adventure that’s more art than science—the art of the start.

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The $100 Startup: Reinvent the Way You Make a Living, Do What You Love and Create a New Future by Chris Guillebeau

In preparing to write this book, Chris Guillebeau identified 1,500 individuals who have built businesses earning $50,000 or more from a modest investment (in many cases, $100 or less), and from that group, he’s chosen to focus on the 50 most intriguing case studies. In nearly all cases, people with no special skills discovered aspects of their personal passions that could be monetized and were able to restructure their lives in ways that gave them greater freedom and fulfillment.

Here, finally distilled into one easy-to-use guide, are the most valuable lessons from those who’ve learned how to turn what they do into a gateway to self-fulfillment. It’s all about finding the intersection between your “expertise”—even if you don’t consider it such—and what other people will pay for. You don’t need an MBA, a business plan or even employees. All you need is a product or service that springs from what you love to do anyway, people willing to pay and a way to get paid.

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