It’s the American dream to start and own your own business. Many see it more than a dream – in fact, roughly 543,000 new businesses start up each month.

But dreams are easily shattered: The Small Business Administration indicates that 20 percent of all small businesses fail in their first year; 50 percent last no more than five years; and 33 percent can give themselves a gold watch for lasting at least 10 years.

If you’re looking for a bright side, consider this: a few decades ago, that failure rate was dramatically worse: SBA stats showed that 50 percent of all start-ups would fail within their first year, and 80 percent wouldn’t last three years.

There’s more good news: The reasons for failure in most cases are avoidable.

That’s where David Hasley comes in. He can boast a 40-year career in commercial banking, investment management and private enterprise that has afforded him the opportunity to be involved with hundreds of businesses of every size, shape and form.

Hasley has studied the operations of these businesses and has served as an advisor to many. He has observed commonalities in operating trends – trends that can be scrutinized by budding entrepreneurs to improve their business and management skills and avoid the constantly recurring pitfalls.

Hasley has put it all together in a comprehensive and logical guidebook originally published in the 1980s but recently updated and re-released. It’s called Starting Up: The Complete Guide to Starting and Maintaining Your Own Business.

Why is this book more relevant today than ever? Hasley explains, “The last few years have seen a mass exodus from within the corporate ranks because of downsizing and automation, and with it the resurrection of the entrepreneurial spirit. This phenomenon transcends social and economic class, race and gender. It also closely parallels the end of the Industrial Age….and it is giving way to a new generation of embryonic entrepreneurs who are charting a new course.”

While entrepreneurship is exciting, challenging and exasperating, it allows its champions, according to Hasley, to “retake control of their lives and destinies, taking a more active part in their children’s development and rejuvenating the family unit.”

Starting Up helps entrepreneurs or entrepreneur wannabes employ the most advanced management techniques and technologies today, greatly improving their chances of success.

Says Hasley, “This is not a manifesto but a self-help guide for those pioneers who are forging a new path…While the odds against long-term success are considerable, the reasons for failure are in most cases avoidable. That’s the major thrust here.” The book makes readers aware of the pitfalls and more importantly aware of the steps necessary to avoid them.

Hasley outlines the underlying causes of why businesses fail, and while disaster, neglect and fraud are noted, far and away the main reason businesses don’t make it is management error. The most common management error, says Hasley, is inadequate sales or revenue generation.

While he acknowledges a common belief that sales have little to do with management abilities, “your chances for success could very well hinge upon your ability to project and obtain adequate sales levels.”

Other common management errors include competitive weakness, uncontrolled operating expenses, receivables or inventory difficulties and excessive fixed-asset expenditures.

The book is logically formatted in the sequence of considerations one will address to enter a new venture. There are 19 chapters and close to 150 specific topics. They all fall under these bigger-picture headings:

  • Understanding personal strengths and financial position.
  • Selecting a business format.
  • Assessing an existing business.
  • Creating operational projections and securing assets.
  • Establishing policies, procedures and management controls.
  • Positioning for expansion and ownership succession.

From the outset, Hasley encourages people to be honest about themselves, what they are capable of and what they are best suited for. “Although self-employment can ultimately prove more rewarding, initially it can be more of a burden than ever imagined. Some of us may even be better suited to remain as employees.”

There are definite areas of success of which any entrepreneur must be aware. Here is Hasley’s checklist:

  • Gain Knowledge
  • Adequate Capitalization
  • The Proper Location
  • Learn Proper Buying
  • Control Working Capital
  • Sound Credit Management
  • Plan for Expansion
  • Keep Adequate Records
  • Learn to Take Advice
  • Recognize Limitations

“The thrill of business success is unmatchable,” says Hasley, “and you can achieve it through careful planning and hard work – and a shrewd assessment using these tips. Here’s to a long and healthy business life cycle!”

Starting Up: The Complete Guide to Starting and Maintaining Your Own Business is now available for purchase.

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ABOUT DAVID HASLEY:

David D. Hasley has owned and operated two successful businesses over the course of his career, which together span 25 years of continuous operation. Hasley’s more than 40 years of business experience also include contributions as a lead commercial lender and administrator for a regional bank in California and as a principal and vice president for a national investment management firm. Contact [email protected]