Carol Roth is a truth teller. I figured that out the first time I met her in Chicago, before a recent SOBCon. She has never shied away from hard facts and uncomfortable realities, especially when it comes to the business world.
She has faced many of these realities herself, during her career as an investment banker, deal maker, and business strategist. By her own admission, she’s always had this “Lucy Van Pelt” (the character in the Peanuts comic strip) thing going on, putting up her own version of the “Doctor is In” sign, telling it like it is to all who frequently ask her for advice.
I have been one of those people myself, because I’m about to make the big jump into my own business (with a partner, Liz Strauss), and Carol knows a thing or two about that.
There is SO much to think about when starting a business, and I needed a few doses of reality as I slogged forward. Carol has been extremely helpful, and now I feel a lot better about what I’m doing, and, on top of that, I have a great new friend, because she also happens to be a good and caring person to boot.
So it was with great interest that I recently read her latest book, “The Entrepreneur Equation“. The book is a wonderful distillation of all that advice she has given over the years, well sequenced and organized. It really is essential reading for any would-be entrepreneur, because it really “lays it all out there” – all the hurdles and “screens” that one has to jump and pass through to conceive, plan, fund, staff, model, manage and execute (just to name a few) a new business.
The crux: Just because you think you CAN be an entrepreneur, that doesn’t mean you SHOULD be one, until you answer all the right questions.
I’ll pass along just a few of the examples of those “right questions” in the book that “got” me (and made me reach for the yellow highlighter):
- Are you going to create a “salable” business, rather than a “jobbie” (a hobby disguised as a business) or a “Job-Business” (a one person business that isn’t scalable)? There’s a great chart in the book that breaks this down perfectly.
- How are you with your personal finances? Because if you can’t manage your own finances, then “you shouldn’t be an entrepreneur trying to manage a business (and implicitly, the business’s finances)“. That one really made me think (as I stared at my unbalanced checkbook).
- Are you willing to put in a LOT of hard work and practice? The “Secret” of success is not just a great idea, a positive attitude, and venture funding. A lot of us are so impatient when it comes to this – we want instant success. But it’s rarely so.
- Are you a “Santa or an Elf”? That is, are you better at giving direction, or taking direction? If you are the latter, it will be very, very hard to run a business on your own.
- Are you “too smart for your own good”? That is, you can’t give up control over anything because “nobody can do it better than you”? Carol has quite an interesting take on this one. And boy, it made me look in the mirror (thanks Carol).
I highly recommend this book to anyone even remotely thinking about starting their own business – it’s a great reality check that covers all the bases.
Carol also has put together a pretty cool pre-book launch contest, that runs through Friday (2/18/11):
She has some great bonus offers to readers who buy the book this week, so check it out.
AND, for every book purchased this week, Carol will be donating one book to SCORE, the national business non-profit, as a way to help as many entrepreneurs as possible to succeed.
Well done Carol!