From the Business Advisor-Wells Fargo
Getting the first order is good, and filling those orders is good. But getting the reorder--that's the real beginning of your business.
Success Times 14
One successful business of your own does not make you an entrepreneurial genius, says Bob Reiss. The Boca Raton, Fla.-based entrepreneur has been involved in 14 start-ups in his 40-year career, including a pencil company, a national sales rep company, three game companies (remember "The TV Guide Trivia Game?"), a consulting company, a personalization company and a watch company.
Reiss's book, Low Risk, High Reward: Starting and Growing Your Business with Minimal Risk, addresses methods for identifying, managing and reducing risks in virtually every facet of business and outlines the attributes, or personal qualities, he feels most successful entrepreneurs possess. The number one attribute is passion for their work. "Every other attribute is learnable," Reiss says, "passion is innate."
Seize the Opportunity
Reiss is the perfect example of a serial entrepreneur identifying opportunity and jumping into action. When the famed Rubik's Cube was taking America by storm, Reiss noticed that manuals on how to solve the puzzle were not available in stores that sold the product. Ever the opportunist, he contacted the publisher of the manual, asked to purchase them on a guaranteed sales basis in bulk quantity, and then distributed them to retailers across the country. Reiss sold more manuals than expected, and everyone enjoyed a healthy profit.
Do Your Homework
However, Reiss knows the difference between a genuine opportunity and wishful thinking. Falling in love with your idea--or product--can blind you to the reality of the marketplace, according to Reiss. Even though entrepreneurs and small business owners may not have the means to do market research, "you have to study your market--you just have to," he says. "Is there even a market? Many people I ask don't know the answer to that question, and that's why they fail."
Reiss currently spends time traveling and speaking to enterprising and energetic young entrepreneurs at various colleges and universities around the country. One lesson he always mentions apllies to reliable market knowledge. "I always tell them that getting the first order is good, and filling out those orders is good," he says. "But getting the reorder--that's the real beginning of your business."
EVER THE ENTREPRENEUR
EVER THE ENTREPRENEUR, one author helps market his own book.
Robert S. Reiss, 69 years old, of Boca Raton, Fla., has founded 14 small companies in his career -- mostly to sell novelty products. By becoming expert at risk reduction -- which is often counterintuitive to entrepreneurs -- he has also become a regular guest speaker at the Harvard and Columbia business schools. Now he has authored "Low Risk, High Reward," a guide to starting and expanding small businesses "with minimal risk."
Though published last month under the well-known Free Press imprint of Viacom Inc.'s Simon & Schuster unit, the book runs the obvious risk of being just one more title in an all-too-crowded market. But Mr. Reiss -- unlike most authors -- aims to increase the odds of success by assuming a big role himself in marketing the book.
Indeed, he says he bought 2,000 copies himself (of about 14,000 printed) -- more than were ordered by any single retail chain or distributor. Now he is trying to resell the copies in channels outside the book trade, such as banks, insurance companies and mail-order catalogs for general merchandise.
To get a price break from the publisher, Mr. Reiss assumed more risk than stores and distributors do: He gave up the right to return copies. (He says the potential reward is worth the risk.)
The author says he told his publisher: "You have to learn new forms of distribution. I'll be the guinea pig. You'll learn from me."
It's A Hit!
Low Risk, High Reward. . .
Way to Grow Your Business
Most businesses make a simple mistake in the growth phase: they expand before establishing profitability.
"They spend their money on fancy new showrooms, or cars or more employees," says Bob Reiss, the author of the new book, Low Risk, High Reward: Starting and Growing a Business with Minimal Risk (The Free Press) with Jeffrey L.
Cruikshank. "People tend to lose sight of the object of being in business, which is to make a profit." Reiss believes businesses are too often evaluated on sales figures alone. But if they're not profitable, they will eventually run out of cash and "that's what causes most business failures," he says.
Risk, High Reward
List Price: $19.95