The founder of BusinessTVChannel.com Ruth King hosts an Internet television show called "Ask the Experts," giving advice on keeping small businesses profitable. She's written a book called The Ugly Truth About Small Business.
"Actually it was a combination of my publisher and I. We, the original title of the book was called Entrepreneurial Terror, and the booksellers said to us 'we won't support the book with the word 'terror' in it, come up with a different title.' And we looked and looked and looked, and we wanted to do something that really got people's attention, and the word 'ugly,' for some reason, gets people's attention. And we wanted this to say there is an ugly truth to this, this is a book about realities, this is a book about what really goes on, there's no fluff, there's no 'get rich quick' schemes, there's no 'this is totally easy.' This is real, this is what happens, this is what you can expect, and sometimes it's ugly."
King's book is the first in a series of six titles aimed at helping the small business entrepreneur. She interviewed 50 entrepreneurs about the realities of what happens in businesses.
"The Ugly Truth About Small Business is the story of 51 entrepreneurs and what we went through in our businesses so that you can learn from us. The goal of the entire series is to learn from the mistakes and the good things that others have done so that you can shorten your path to success. And we look at it from--the thing that my grandfather told me years ago, there's three types of business people: the first type makes mistakes and doesn't learn from them, so they make them again. The second type learns from their mistakes so they don't make them. But the smart one is the third type who learns from the mistakes of others and what others are doing well. So that's what the whole Ugly Truth About series is about. Stories from 50 entrepreneurs--they range from people who tried and failed, people in there who bought businesses that they hated, as well as people who worked with government projects when the government decided that they weren't doing those anymore. We've had people who lost 25 percent of their business in a day. I had one in there who had to fire 143 people in a day. And there's lots of different stories of things that just come and bite you, and we want you to be prepared so that they don't happen to you, and you take the steps necessary to prevent them from happening."
King says there are several common mistakes that small business owners make.
"The first mistake everybody makes is not being able to really understand their financial statements well. And do you scorecard, and if you don't read your financials well and you don't understand what they're saying, you don't have the ability to stop minor issues before they become major crises. That's mistake number one. Mistake number two is not having the ability to fail well, and what I mean by that is you have to be persistent because not everything happens the way you thinks it's going to happen. You're going to run into roadblocks. You're going to run into people who quit, leave, whatever. And you have to be able to pick yourself up, dust yourself off and keep going. And you have to be non-emotional and you have to be rational. And there are times that it is incredibly difficult to be unemotional, and let yourself go through the emotion and then start being rational about what you can do to go where you need to go."
King notes that the way business is being conducted has changed forever, with the advent of new technology.
"The technology that we use is allowing more and more information, more and more video information, more abilities to do communications worldwide, and you're going to be communicating and doing business with companies around the world, not necessarily in your particular geographic area. So that's one way the Internet is going to help. The second thing is the access to information has just exploded, and it's only going to explode that much more. And you're going to be finding more and more niche-oriented type of businesses that are going to be very successful using the Internet to drive business to their companies."
Ruth King began the live and on-demand programming of BusinessTV.com about five years ago, offering a series of programs to help small businesses grow their businesses. The Ugly Truth About Small Business is available in bookstores and on Amazon.com.