This week, our division was notified that our job functions were being consolidated and our jobs were being eliminated (bad news).  One of my 12 directs came to me yesterday because she has the opportunity to take over a small family Auto Body business (good news) and asked if I knew of any resources- books, etc that might be a good starting point.  Any recommendations would be appreciated!

jrb3's picture
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 Wow, a good opportunity if she's ready and willing to give it a go.

Several years ago, many of the major US metropolitan areas had a program under the Small Business Association, known as SCORE -- Service Corps of Retired Executives.  The branch in San Jose (California) had a pretty sizable library of "How to Run a X" business manuals 10-15 years back.  I remember there was one for dry cleaners and one for gas stations, so I'd think it a fair shot there was one for auto-body and auto-repair.  I can't find a SCORE entry in the phone book here-and-now in Atlanta, so maybe that's gone the way of too many other good things.  You/she might be able to network into an equivalent set of mentors and advisors through the local Chamber of Commerce, area CPAs and business schools, and so on.

Your local library might either have something like those books, or leads to copies which can be borrowed through inter-library loan.  Ask the reference-desk librarian for possibilities.

If your direct-for-now has not run a business before, I'd suggest she hit the library to read through the "small business" section with recent books.  I found many of Nolo Press' books helpful -- both for legalities and for general attitude.   "Small-Time Operator" (from the mid-1970's I think) cemented most of my early procedure and policy decisions.  Other stuff I pulled from my bookshelf might have more recent editions, or successors:

Allen, "Getting Things Done", Penguin, 2003.  ISBN 0-14-200028-0.  Drawn from experience first won from managing a gas station, this is widely considered as definitive in personal organization as Drucker is in management.  Its insights guide my daily and weekly effectiveness.

Malberg, "Business Plans to Manage Day-to-Day Operations", Wiley 1993.  ISBN 0-471-57299-3.  Aimed at the small business executive, and as such presumes teams across multiple departments -- probably good for the leader of 20-30 employees, or leadership team of 30-50 and up.  I adapted some procedures down into my own one-person consulting firms to help me think more clearly on budgeting and marketing.

Gumpert, "How to Really Start Your Own Business", Inc. 1996, 3rd edition.  ISBN 1-880394-24-3.  Traditional "go out and find money" path to setting up your own business.  Good advice on nailing down the product/service, people, and structure.  Presumes a somewhat larger start as well, especially compared to current internet-age start-up guides which allow for a much more shoe-string approach.

Orloff and Levinson, "The 60-Second Commute", Financial Times Prentice Hall, 2003.  ISBN 0-13-130321-X.  While aimed much more at the "soloist", I think their attitude and approach suits business in general.

Ries, "The Lean Startup", Crown, 2011 (ISBN 978-0-307-88789-4).  This came to me incredibly highly recommended from several in my network whom I trust on matter entrepeneurial.  My just-arrived copy is lying just to the left of this keyboard as I type;  I will devour it and work with it in the next few weeks and report back.  I'm given to understand this spawned an ongoing "Lean Startup Weekend" craze, for folks to gather, try out the skills together, and scatter with usable ideas and occasional businesses.

DesmondJ's picture

 Fresh off a few years working in a bank, my first job after college, I found myself in South America, working in the Peace Corps, helping small businesses set up. At this time, 20 years ago, my favorite resource for guidance was Paul Hawken's Growing A Business. 

It talks more about his experiences developing his business in an interesting way and I remember frequently using these experiences to help me get over the various day to day challenges . And it is a great read to boot. 

Good luck. 



mckenzie29's picture

Thanks for your recommendations- I knew this would be a great resource!

ferrisjm's picture



I love Michael Masterson's books on running businesses.  The book for your direct that I would recommend by Michael Masterson is "Ready, Aim, Fire: Zero to $100 Million In No Time Flat"


This book emphasizes getting the right mindset, how to start up on a shoe string budget and the importance of selling, selling, selling.


Best of luck to your direct report.



crom's picture

 I just ordered Grow Regardless, by Joe Mechlinski. It's currently in the "on-deck circle" and I'm looking forward to getting into it this weekend. I'm familiar with the author's company and their track record, which is why I thought it was well worth the purchase. It popped up on the NYT business best seller list last weekend and  reviews online are promising. Could make a good addition to the great list JRB3 provided. 

DR_1967's picture

My brother owns and runs a $5M business and highly recommends Dave Ramsey's "EntreLeadership".  I started listening to it yesterday on my way home and find it compelling.  So far I have only heard about the culture aspect of Dave's philosophy, but I am sure his financial guidance is spot-on.