Matthew Hart's Diamond provides a crash course in the economics, geology, business culture and history surrounding the most precious of all gems. As a writer covering the diamond industry, Hart's travel has exposed him to the fascinating cast of players who comprise the trade - the corporate cartels who control distribution and the people who steal from them, the scientists who frantically cross the globe looking for sources, the artisans who refine rough diamonds and the armies who kill for them.
Yet in spite of the enormous demand and high prices they command, Hart memorably observes that diamonds "are sublimely useless. You cannot eat them or drive them home." One of the interesting issues raised in this book is the process by which value is assigned to something that, in and of itself, has no real bearing on survival. Diamond is written with journalistic precision and a storyteller's sense of how to create suspense. Hart's analysis of this unusual industry is eye opening as it expertly examines both the cultural and business forces that contribute to the manufacturing of demand.
HG 179 .F72 2002
The Business Owner's Guide to Personal Finance: When Your Business Is Your Paycheck by Jill Andresky Fraser. Bloomberg Press, 2002.
Each year, a lucky few embark on a new business venture with a fat check from an angel investor or a large, low-interest loan in the bank. Far more common are the entrepreneurs who start with loans from the 'Bank of Credit Card Cash Advances" and the "Uncle Ted, I have a question for you…" investment fund. Even if you do have a stable source of capital, the process of starting your own business can still have far reaching effects on your personal finances.
Jill Andresky Fraser, finance editor of Inc. magazine, answers the questions that every new entrepreneur ought to be asking: how and when to pay yourself; how to save for self and family; and what low-cost ways to obtain medical benefits, and finance retirement and college costs can be put into place, etc. Fraser also tackles the topics many entrepreneurs might wish to put off or ignore: how to divorce-proof your company; how to protect your family's financial future in the event of your unexpected death; how to plan a smooth and profitable exit from your business, and more. Estate planning tools that should take effect as soon as you form your company are also featured. These invaluable tips and caveats are amplified by the comments, insights, and encouragement of twelve actual entrepreneurs who started their operations on a shoestring. Lillian Vernon is one of these; did you know that she started her giant mail-order business by spending $2000 of wedding gift money to buy two products and an ad in Seventeen magazine?
An essential read for anyone starting a sole-proprietorship, this valuable book can help anyone about to start his or her own business. The Business Owner's Guide to Personal Finance is also a handy reference book for the established business owner with personal financial concerns, and the 'hot topic index' in the introduction will help you to find answers to your pressing questions.
HD 69 .C6 W465 2001
The Ultimate Consultant: Powerful Techniques for the Successful Practitioner by Alan Weiss. Jossey-Bass/Pfeiffer, 2001.
Is success always good or can a business fail by succeeding? This counterintuitive idea is known as the 'success trap.' Successful businesses can focus too much on doing what works now, in an effort to continue that success; rather than asking important questions about the ongoing value of their products or services. Alan Weiss argues that the success trap is of particular concern for consultants. Targeted specifically at "sophisticated, successful consultants," The Ultimate Consultant offers new ways to look at your business and operations. Sidebar interviews "from the trenches" with leading consultants illuminate how they built their own consulting practices and offers their advice on what they would do differently if starting over.
Some of Mr. Weiss's advice may seem quite radical. For example, he believes absolutely that work should never be billed on a per-hour basis; fees for a project should be based strictly on value to the client and the organization. He explains how to establish relationships with the key decision-makers within the organization while laying the groundwork for future projects, and how to "exert a strong gravitational pull" to ensure leads from the widest possible sources. Having an excellent, content-filled website is a must! The author's own website, www.summitconsulting.com, is a perfect example of what should be included.
Remember, even after a reputation is firmly established, there are new issues to consider. What should be known before accepting an assignment for a family-owned business? What if accepting equity for one's services in advising start-up businesses results in a potential conflict of interest? Weiss feels that consultants often make the mistake of turning away business because they don't know how to handle concurrent projects. They also need to guard against "scope creep", the gradual enlargement of a project beyond the terms of the signed contract, and thereby preserve their integrity, safeguard their profit margin, and not squander valuable time. There are also ideas that can generate passive income: writing books, creating a subscription-only newsletter, becoming an executive coach/mentor or creating audio/visual packages that can be sold at a substantial profit. Those who have developed a unique and well-known methodology may be able to franchise, lease or license their ideas.
Newcomers to the field will be interested in Alan Weiss' earlier works,
Getting Started in Consulting, How to Acquire Clients, and Value-based
Fees: How to Charge - and Get - What You're Worth, among others. However,
The Ultimate Consultant a prominent place on every established
professional consultant's reading list.
Also recommended are:
HD 31 .M2939626 2002x
Manager's Handbook : Everything You Need to Know About How Business and Management Work by Robert Heller. DK Pub., 2002
HD 87 .Y47 2002
The Commanding Heights: the Battle for the World Economy by Daniel Yergin and Joseph Stanislaw. Simon & Schuster, 2002.
HB 501 .K838 2002
How the Markets Really Work by Joel Kurtzman. Crown Business, 2002.
TK 5101 .G55 2002x
Telecosm: the World After Bandwidth Abundance by by George Gilder. Touchstone, 2002.
Contact the business librarians, who also answer questions about business, money, and work, at (412) 281-7141 or at www.carnegielibrary.org/locations/downtown/contact.cfm.