02 August 2014

Guidebook Review: The Young Entrepreneur's Guide to Starting and Running a Business

Note: I received a free review copy of this book through Blogging for Books. The opinions stated in this review are entirely my own.

One year ago, I transitioned Sparrow Tree Square from a website of free public domain literature magazines to a business selling humanities enrichment resources. Since this is my first foray into business, I'm still navigating things like pricing and marketing and figuring out how best to reach the people who would find Sparrow Tree Square useful. When I spotted The Young Entrepreneur's Guide to Starting and Running a Business by Steve Mariotti, I thought it would be a helpful resource for learning the ins and outs of going from a webmaster to business owner.

The Young Entrepreneur's Guide was first published in 1996 but was updated most recently in 2014. The book is divided into seven parts of two to five chapters each, covering how to get started running a business, marketing, money management, legal considerations, growth, moving on, and business plans. While the table of contents makes the book look well-structured, I found the internal structuring of chapters a tad confusing--the subsections are often indistinguishable in content from the "sidebar" material that's interposed between them, and real-life examples are both highlighted in sections of their own and used within the main text of the book. For me, this made it difficult to sift out the practical information, and hard to find passages that I wanted to return to without marking them myself.

Despite the 2014 update, I also found the approach used in The Young Entrepreneur's Guide dated and out of touch. While a good portion of the book was dedicated to social media marketing and some recent internet-based businesses were featured, the focus seemed very much drawn from and directed towards brick-and-mortar businesses. Services like Etsy and print-on-demand companies, where many people my age set up their businesses, were not discussed. Success stories like Whole Foods Market, the international organic food store chain founded in 1988, were. In my experience, today's "young entrepreneurs" aren't looking to found corporations that make billions of dollars. They're looking to share what they're passionate about and take that passion in a variety of directions that will each net smaller profits but combine to make a decent income.

While The Young Entrepreneur's Guide to Starting and Running a Business did give me a few helpful suggestions that I might institute with Sparrow Tree Square, overall the book failed to meet my expectations both as a practical resource and a source of inspiration. While having a book at my fingertips to look up information would have been helpful, I'll take my future business questions to the place where I and most other young entrepreneurs run their businesses--the internet.

I received this book for free from Blogging for Books for this review.

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