“What is the most helpful small business book you’ve read?”
Recently, somebody asked me this question- and I had a hard time picking only one, but I chose Small Time Operator: How to Start Your Own Business, Keep Your Books, Pay Your Taxes, and Stay Out of Troubleby Bernard B. Kamaroff, C.P.A., Taylor Trade Publishing, November 2016.
With a subtitle like that, what’s not to love? Honestly, whether you are just starting a home-based business or your retail store is doing well, you will find plenty of great resources here.
First published in 1976, now in its 14th edition, it’s still the best overall book on the ‘business’ of business, that I’ve read. And I had that first edition.
If You’re Not an Accountant, You Need This Book
Mr. Kamaroff covers the basics and many of the intricacies involved in deciding to start a business and grow it. From choosing a business structure to paying your taxes, he covers complicated subjects in a readable and understandable style.
Failing to understand accounting, taxes, and cash flow is a problem common to many entrepreneurs.
Read and carry out the recommendations in this book, you will make sound decisions and put money in the bank.
I recommend studying the whole book and then keeping it on hand for a ready reference, it may become your favorite, too.
“Don’t write in, dog-ear, or otherwise deface a book!” As a lifelong book lover and former used bookstore owner, I’ve seen way too many books ruined by these habits.
Now, you’re not a bad person if you do- but I can’t- so, I use sticky notes as I read. When it looks like this, I know it’s a winner.
Gumption? Grit? Never Give Up!
Analyzing why some people stick it out in the face of difficulty and others give up is fascinating. What keeps us going when we feel like giving up? Is this inborn or learned behavior?
Plenty of books have examined this and offer interesting perspectives, but I think Grit provides the most thorough and engaging discussion.
The Science of Achievement
Ms. Duckworth has a unique combination of education and experience; she has a BA in neurobiology, an MSc in Neuroscience from Oxford, and her Ph.D. in psychology. Also, she has worked with low-income children and is the founder and scientific director of the Character Lab- a nonprofit with the mission to advance the science and practice of character development.
Just as important, is her willingness to share her personal experience developing grit in her own life and that of her children.
This book is well-organized with a readable mixture of science-based evidence and illustrations from the lives of people, famous and otherwise, who exhibit grit in their lives.
Part I: What Grit Is And Why It Matters
Part II: Growing Grit From The Inside Out
Part III: Growing Grit From The Outside In
Duckworth begins with an analysis of West Point cadets who drop out of the school compared to those who don’t. Talent and athletic ability are not the most indicative factors of those students who make it through the tough first weeks; it can actually decrease their chances.
How Gritty Are You?
She includes a version of the Grit Scale so you can check out your own perseverance. It includes questions such as: “I have difficulty maintaining my focus on projects that take more than a few months to complete.” and “I have overcome setbacks to conquer an important challenge.”
Fortunately, she reassures us that grittiness can continue to grow throughout our lives, backing up that assertion with evidence based on neuroscience.
How To Become More Gritty
Part II helps the reader understand how passion and determination overlap and offers suggestions on defining interests that will truly motivate us. She also discusses the role of practice in achieving success and what counts when stating, “It takes 10,000 hours of practice to reach excellence.”
“In fact, there’s never a time in life when the brain is completely fixed. Instead, all our lives, our neurons retain the potential to grow new connections with one another and to strengthen the ones we already have.” she says, quoting Carol S. Dweck.
Despite common belief, even our I.Q. can increase. Ms. Duckworth discusses steps we can take to provide the necessary ingredients of Growth Mindset, Optimistic Self-talk, and Perseverance Over Adversity.
The last section of the book begins with her question, “What can I do to encourage grit in the people I care for?”
Every parent will relate to the dilemma of how to motivate your children. Her analysis of parenting styles, from Authoritarian to Permissive, is fascinating and thought-provoking.
What place do extracurricular activities take in growing grit? Should a parent ‘lead’ or ‘push’? How important is coaching or leadership?
In conclusion, she answers those who ask, “Is grit the most important character trait?”
She replies, “I can tell you, for example, that grit is NOT the only thing I want my children to develop…. Do I want them to be great at whatever they do? Absolutely. But greatness and goodness are different, and if forced to choose, I’d put goodness first.” (p. 273)
I love these inspiring statements found in the closing pages.
“We all face limits- not just in talent, but in opportunity. But more often than we think, our limits are self-imposed. We try, fail, and conclude we’ve bumped our heads against the ceiling of possibility.”
“To be gritty is to keep putting one foot in front of the other. To be gritty is to hold fast to an interesting and purposeful goal. To be gritty is to invest, day after week after year, in challenging practice. To be gritty is to fall down seven times and rise eight.” (p. 275)
Looking for an inspiring, challenging book to start off 2018? Read this book.
You may also enjoy this brief video by Angela Duckworth.