Tag Archives: Small Business

Books for Small Businesses

If you’re running or helping to run a small business, you’ve encountered unique challenges (and, we hope, many unique rewards!). It can feel like you’re doing it all yourself–which means you could use as much help as you can get from the experts. Below, check out some of our most helpful recent books for small businesses.

The Crowdfunding Handbook: Raise Money for Your Small Business or Start-Up with Equity Funding Portals by Cliff Ennico

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Until May 2016, the act of offering securities (stocks, bonds, and more) in exchange for investment was extremely limited. The arduous and expensive process for companies and the strict regulations for investors left countless hopefuls out. That has now changed with equity crowdfunding. This isn’t your average Kickstarter campaign–you’ll need Cliff Ennico’s comprehensive handbook–but, if the timing is right for your small business, you don’t want to miss out on this opportunity.

Get Scrappy: Smarter Digital Marketing for Businesses Big and Small by Nick Westergaard

Jacket cover of Get Scrappy

While Get Scrappy‘s digital marketing wisdom applies to businesses of any size, small businesses will find it especially crucial. Marketing without a significant budget may feel like an uphill climb, but you can see results without a gargantuan budget if you follow Nick Westergaard’s essential advice on constructing your brand, sticking to your strategy, creating content that answers your potential customers’ most urgent questions, measuring your results accurately to hone your tactics, and more.

75 Ways for Managers to Hire, Develop, and Keep Great Employees by Paul Falcone

Jacket cover of 75 Ways by Paul Falcone

Not all small businesses have human resources departments, but that doesn’t mean the procedures and issues that HR departments handle just disappear. HR rock star Paul Falcone‘s new book delivers key human resources strategies to managers and executives. Small business owners will appreciate Falcone’s attention to each step in the employee cycle, readable explanations of the legal implications of key management decisions, and focus on hiring and managing effectively in the first place (because it’s much harder for small businesses to bounce back when hiring goes wrong).

When the Pressure’s On: The Secret to Winning When You Can’t Afford to Lose by Dr. Louis S. Csoka

Jacket cover of When the Pressure's On

Small business owners face an extraordinary amount of stress, and with the weight of a whole company on their shoulders, it’s not always possible to shrug it off. No one knows how to manage stress better than Dr. Louis S. Csoka, founder of West Point’s Center for Enhanced Performance and creator of the first ever Peak Performance Center for a Fortune 500 company. He shared his five-pronged strategy for performing under pressure–which small business owners face regularly–in his remarkable book, When the Pressure’s On.

Sell with a Story: How to Capture Attention, Build Trust, and Close the Sale by Paul Smith

Jacket cover of Sell with a Story by Paul Smith

Small businesses pitching products might not always be able to offer the lowest price right away, and they might not have the highest brand recognition–so what’s going to get their prospects interested? The most important tool in any salesperson’s kit, but especially that of a salesperson from a smaller firm, is the story. In Sell with a Story, acclaimed author Paul Smith details how to craft narratives that will strengthen relationships, make the product memorable, increase product value (really!), and more. When it comes to storytelling, small businesses likely have a leg up on the competition–take advantage of it!



Cliff Ennico Shares 10 Need-to-Know Facts on the SEC’s New Crowdfunding Regulations


The following is a guest post from Cliff Ennico, author of The Crowdfunding Handbook: Raise Money For Your Small Business or Start-Up with Equity Funding Portals (AMACOM May 2016).


On May 16, 2016, the SEC handed down regulations under the federal JOBS Act that allow small businesses and early stage companies to raise capital on the Internet via “crowdfunding portals,” such as Kickstarter, IndieGoGo and SeedInvest.

The regulations are over 600 pages long, but here are some key points:

  1. It’s Not Just for Tech Companies.  Any small business can raise money under these rules, including retail, service and other “non-scalable” businesses that haven’t been able to tap into the securities markets until now.
  2. It’s Not Just for “Accredited Investors”.  Anyone can buy securities in a crowdfunded offering, although there are limits on how much they can invest.  If your company has a large following on social media, you can solicit them to view your offering (but see below).
  3. Some Companies Can’t Crowdfund.  Foreign companies (other than Canada), hedge funds and other investment companies, public companies and companies that have run afoul of SEC rules in the past can’t take advantage of the new rules.
  4. You Gotta Use a Portal.  You can’t crowdfund from your website or Facebook page.  You must register with a broker-dealer or “crowdfunding portal” (registered as such with both the SEC and FINRA) and post your offering only there.  Fees will run between 5% and 10% of the offering amount, with (maybe) flat fees for small offerings.
  5. You Gotta Do the Paperwork.  You have to fill out a disclosure document using the SEC’s Form C (available as an “online questionnaire”) on the crowdfunding portal.  You can attach “supplemental materials” such as marketing videos, product demonstrations and the like, but if you put these on the portal they can’t appear anywhere else (for example, on your website or Youtube.com) until the offering is completed.
  6. You Can Only Raise So Much.  You can raise up to $1 million over a rolling 12-month period with crowdfunding.
  7. You Can’t Advertise Outside the Portal.  You can post an “offering notice” on your website directing investors to the portal, and e-mail the “offering notice” to your social media crowd, but that’s it.  You can’t communicate with investors directly, only through the portal.
  8. For Big Cash Raises, You May Need Audited Financials.  If you are raising less than $100,000, your CEO can bless the financials.  Over that, your financials must be “reviewed” by an independent CPA, but if you raise more than $500,000 in two (or more) separate offerings, the second offering must include audited financial statements.
  9. You Can “Double Dip”.  If your crowdfunded offering is acceptable, you can go back for more (up to $1 million), but you will need updated business and financial information, and will probably have to pay a separate fee to the portal.  You will also have to explain why you need the extra money.
  10. You Need to Manage Your “Crowd”.  Consider carefully what it will mean to have dozens, if not hundreds, of investors to keep track of if your crowdfunded offering is successful.  You will need to develop an “investor relations” strategy for keeping your crowd informed, up to date and satisfied with your company’s performance.  It will be much tougher to “pivot” your business plan in a different direction with a crowd watching over your management team’s shoulders.



CLIFF ENNICO is a syndicated columnist and author of The Crowdfunding Handbook: Raise Money For Your Small Business or Start-Up with Equity Funding Portals (AMACOM May 2016). This article is no substitute for legal, tax or financial advice, which can be furnished only by a qualified professional licensed in your state.

Abigail Steinberg on Seven Questions to Answer Before Launching Your Natural Food Product

Author of Recipe for Success, Abigail SteinbergNavigating the incessantly changing waters of the highly competitive natural foods retail world can be dangerous. Some of the most common mistakes entrepreneurs make in this industry are mistakes from which they can’t recover. Fortunately, you don’t have to make these mistakes to learn. Study the blunders of the fallen products before you by asking yourself these seven questions.

  1. Who is my target market?

Answer this question quickly because it will guide everything you do—and how much buyers, distributors, and retailers trust that you have a product that will sell.

  1. How innovative does my product need to be?

Replicating a competitor’s efforts is not a viable path. Temptation may be strong to lean in the direction of duplication, but the market needs innovative and new products. On the other hand, does a market exist for your banana-cilantro lamb freezer meal? Think about it.

  1. What sets my product apart from the competition?

So you will be up against similar products. What sets you apart from your direct competitors? Perhaps it’s the taste, quality, safety, ingredients, or environmental impact. If you’re not standing out, it’s time to rethink strategy. If you do have a truly special feature, highlight it!

  1. Does my product have a look too similar to the competition?

This can and does happen. On the shelf, when two products look alike, one must go. Make your packaging unique.

  1. What’s the best price point for my category?

You must know your competition’s price points. If you price your product aggressively high, it may be an instant sales killer—while a low price point may make potential customers suspicious about your quality.

  1. Is my category growing or shrinking?

You wouldn’t want to arrive late to a party only to discover the fun is over. Categories expand and contract; this ebb and flow is commonplace. Make sure your category is not oversaturated and about to contract. The less saturated the category, the more likely you can score shelf space.

  1. Is my product in demand?

You’re invested in your product, of course. You likely have a strong emotional commitment to it—you made this! Yet you still need a clear head about how much everyone else wants your product. Ask if there is a real demand. Retail buyers are already inundated with thousands of new and established products. Is there room for one more? Or better yet, are you the new category?

The natural foods industry can change the way we eat, clean, and consume for the better. You want to be part of that—so take the right steps for success!


ABIGAIL STEINBERG is the author of RECIPE FOR SUCCESS: An Insider’s Guide to Bringing Your Natural Food to Market (AMACOM November 2015). She is a senior executive in the natural foods industry, and made her name as an instrumental part of the rise of natural soda company Zevia.

Random Quotes from New Books This November

Dial Down the Drama: Reducing Conflict and Reconnecting with Your Teenage Daughter–A Guide for Mothers Everywhere by Colleen O’Grady

Jacket cover of Dial Down the Drama by Colleen O'Grady

Do respond without reacting, don’t react without responding. Your daughter lost her phone. When you respond and don’t react, you say, ‘I’m so sorry. When was the last time you remember seeing it? Where have you looked? Do you need my help?’ If you react and don’t respond, you say, ‘Seriously, we just bought you this phone. You are so irresponsible. Why do you lose everything? Do you know how much that phone cost?’” (page 116).

Recipe for Success: An Insider’s Guide to Bring Your Natural Food to Market by Abigail Steinberg

Jacket cover of Recipe for Success by Abigail Steinberg

“Every square foot of a retail location must generate income. Algorithms and assistant managers continually reshape these retail environments, looking for profit. Turnover is the rule, so suppliers with the highest sales, most ads, and brand awareness evolve into superstars—if they can keep up product support and sales numbers. If a product doesn’t perform, stores get rid of it. If you want to get your product onto retail shelves, you need to understand why a product stays on shelves and what gets it thrown off” (page 67).

What Great Trainers Do: The Ultimate Guide to Delivering Engaging and Effective Learning by Robert Bolton and Dorothy Grover Bolton

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“A trainer’s enthusiasm, however, is not to be confused with an overly ardent approach to try to persuade participants to embrace what he’s teaching. His phrasing and manner of presenting should communication to participants that they have a free choice in what they will and will not believe or do. If they sense they are losing their freedom of choice, you can say goodbye to the positive learning climate you’re trying to build. … So be aware of the thin line between being enthusiastic in your teaching and attempting to convert participants to the method, beliefs, and values you are teaching” (page 191).

The Power of Business Process Improvement, Second Edition: 10 Simple Steps to Increase Effectiveness, Efficiency, and Adaptability by Susan Page

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“Taking the time to set the foundation helps to prevent scope creep, a risk in many projects. Scope creep is veering away from the original purpose of the work without an increase in time, resources, or money. … In business process work, scope creep weaves its way in because new ideas, demands, and needs surface as you get into the work, and the temptation is to continually expand the scope of a business process” (pages 53-54).

Effective Succession Planning, Fifth Edition: Ensuring Leadership Continuity and Building Talent from Within byWilliam J. Rothwell

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Reason 6 [for a Succession Planning and Management Program]: Help Individuals Realize Their Career Plans Within the Organization. Organizations make a substantial investment in the training of their employees. Employee performance may improve with experience as individuals advance along a learning curve on which they master organization-specific and job-specific knowledge. When individuals leave an organization, their loss can be measured. If they remain with one employer to realize their career plans, then the employer benefits from their experiences. In this sense, SP&M can serve as a tool by which individuals can be prepared for realizing their career plans within the organization” (page 18).

november books FINAL

Want to sample other AMACOM books? Check out our Random Quotes from New Books series.

Random Quotes from New Books This August: Round 2

With all the new books we’re publishing this August, we’ve split our new releases into two posts. Enjoy our second batch of quotes from this month’s books:

Millennials with Kids: Marketing to This Powerful and Surprisingly Different Generation of Parents by Jeff Fromm and Marissa Vidler

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“Brands that sit on their Big Data and don’t leverage it to create a better customer experience are missing the mark. When used correctly, Big Data can enable brands to create predictive analytics based on the spending patterns of the most loyal customers. … Millennials are ripe for programs that collect this type of data because, as a whole, they are more likely to share personal information with brands if they receive benefits” (page 186-87).

Your Own Terms: A Woman’s Guide to Taking Charge of Any Negotiation by Yasmin Davidds, PsyD with Ann Bidou
Jacket cover of Your Own Terms

“Women often operate on the assumption that when we agree quickly, we’re providing satisfaction. Actually, we’re doing the opposite. Saying ‘yes’ too quickly reduces the sense of ‘winning’ and, therefore, satisfaction. You value something more when you have to work for it! So make no mistake: Collaboration does not mean quick capitulation” (page 13).



Venture Mom: From Idea to Income in Just 12 Weeks by Holly Hurd
Jacket cover of Venture Mom

“The organizational tool Candice developed, called ‘The EDWIN,”’ short for Educational Winners, is designed to help kids organized and store essential documents and important papers, helping them to build skills that will not only help them in the runup to college applications but long after. She originally intended to use her system for her own clients. However, when the private school where she worked bought The EDWIN for each of their ninth graders, she realized there was a market for her product—one that would enable her to reach a much broader audience” (page 88).

High-Impact Human Capital Strategy: Addressing the 12 Major Challenges Today’s Organizations Face by Jack J. Phillips and Patricia Pulliam Phillips
Jacket cover of High-Impact Human Capital Strategy

“Engagement is usually a principle component or determinate of a ‘Great Place to Work.’ There are many Great Place to Work programs, ranging from the most well-know, Fortune’s ‘100 Best Companies to Work For,’ to those of a particular professional field, locale, or specialty (such as diversity). For example, in Fortune’s ‘100 Best Companies to Work For,’ two-thirsd of the determinate for being on the list is the score of an engagement survey given to a randomly selected sample of employees. This is very powerful data, and a positive score is desired by the executive team as they build a great place to work. Being included on such a list helps attract and retain employees, and although the award itself is intangible, it is obviously connected to tangible measures” (page 113).



Want to sample other AMACOM books? Check out our Random Quotes from New Books series.