In this post I review the fourth edition of the Canadian Small Business Kit For Dummies. I started my business in 2016 and read this book in 2020. Even with a few years of experience under my belt, it found it quite insightful.
The book is divided into five parts with between three and seven short chapters in each part. You can either read this book from cover to cover or skip around to the sections that are of greatest interest to you.
1) Small Business Essentials
The first four chapters cover the pros and cons of starting a small business, choosing what business to start, common aptitudes of successful business people, when and where to get help, honing your business skills, intellectual property rights and choosing your product and/or service.
I did a lot of research on my own prior to starting my business. I also learned a lot through trial and error along the way. The information in this part of the Canadian Small Business Kit would have shortened my learning curve. For better or for worse, I don’t have all of the aptitudes of a successful small business person, so there are a lot gaps I’ve had to fill by either learning on my own, or finding professionals who could help.
2) Getting Started
Topics in the next seven chapters include buying a business or franchise, corporations versus sole proprietorship vs partnership, Canadian government requirements, setting up a business office, working from home versus outside the home, finding startup capital, writing business plans that increase your capital and marketing your business.
I had a few ideas about what type of small business I could run and it was the research that I did on government regulations that helped me make an informed decision regarding which business would be the most feasible. I found the sections on government requirements to be lacking. It’s focused on business numbers and taxes and didn’t provide any mention that there were other industry specific regulations for many businesses. A prime example of this is labeling.
I found the sections on finding startup capital and writing business plans to be real eye openers. I wasn’t aware of all the possible ways to fund a small business startup. None of my previous research into business plans suggested that they could be a useful toll for securing startup funds. I would have done things a lot differently in my first year if I had known.
3) Operating Your Small Business
The six chapters in this section of the book covers types of small business risks, minimizing risks, making the sale, contracts for sales and /or services, getting paid, getting repeat business, finding suppliers and advisors, hiring and firing employees, how to be an employer, understanding income taxes, sales taxes and other business taxes, bookkeeping, inventory accounting, preparing financial documents and hiring an accountant.
My previous work experience gave me some exposure to small business risks and risk management, sales and contracts for sales and services. If this isn’t the case for you, you’ll find those sections helpful.
Regardless of whether you do your own taxes or have them done for you, preparing the right documents beforehand makes the filing process much easier. The first time I prepared documents for my small business taxes, I learned why inventory control software was important and that I needed to refine my bookkeeping. Fortunately it was easy to adjust to bookkeeping methods I was using. Unfortunately I had to do a manual inventory count at the year end to fill in the gaps with my inventory control system. You can read more about these experiences in these two posts:
4) What Does The Future Hold
The four chapters in this section cover finding more business, when not to do more business, financing and managing a bigger business, cash flow problems and how to deal with them, disputes, and how to get out of business in a variety of scenarios (selling, going out of business, being put of of business and death).
Many things do not go as planned. This section provided a well-balanced overview of both things going well and not going well for a small business. I found it quite informative regarding both topics.
5) The Part Of Tens
The last three chapters of this book presents ten questions potential small business owners should ask themselves, ten key documents for small businesses and ten helpful internet resources. It’s a good summary if you’re reading the book from cover to cover.
The Canadian Small Business Kit For Dummies provides a good overview of many pertinent small business topics. The breath and scope of topics is comprehensive, but not overwhelming. Many sections include recommendations to other books that cover a specific topic in greater detail. Overall I find it a great general reference and I’m glad I made the purchase. I recommend this book for anyone contemplating starting a business in Canada.
Have you read this book? Do you recommend any books for small business owners? Comment below and/or pin me for later.