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BOOK REVIEW: TURN YOUR PASSION INTO PROFITS: How to Start the Business of Your Dreams by Janet Allon and the Editors of Victoria magazine

List Price $24.95 (Available through Amazon.com)
Hardcover: 219 pages
Publisher: Hearst Corporation; 1st edition (July 1, 2001)
ISBN: 1588160068

Reviewed by Elizabeth H. Cottrell - Staff Writer of the IAHBE

TURN YOUR PASSION INTO PROFITS: How to Start the Business of Your Dreams was unabashedly written for—and about—women entrepreneurs, but there is a great deal of solid, "take-it-to-the-bank" information that would be useful for any entrepreneur, especially one who is still in the planning—or even the dreaming—stages of a new business venture.

The book's author, Janet Allon, has also written The Business of Bliss: How to Profit from Doing What You Love, and co-wrote Deal With It: A Whole New Approach to Your Body, Brain and Life as a gURL. She is an award-winning journalist and a former New York Times reporter. Victoria magazine, whose editors co-authored the book, has, since 1987, "encouraged women's efforts by featuring their shops, clothing, designs, furnishings, flowers, and restaurants and, in turn, has often been credited with giving those businesses an all-important first boost." Turn Your Passion Into Profits is essentially a handbook that provides a road map for the serious woman entrepreneur.

There are several refreshing aspects to this book that make it stand out from the pack of books that claim to be expert sources of entrepreneurial advice. Perhaps the most important is the wealth of real-life examples and stories that contribute to the authenticity of the book as well as to the confidence of the reader. There's nothing like knowing someone else—a REAL person—has done something you want to do to make you feel that you can do it too.

Another helpful feature to this book is its highly readable format. It is made so that the reader can get a very valuable "big picture" from reading it start to finish, but it can also be used very effectively as a resource book into which you can dip for specific advice and information. An equally delightful way to enjoy this book is to skim through and read only the shaded boxes which contain special information or highlights or quotes from entrepreneurs. The table of contents is comprehensive, and the appendices include some very useful content, but the lack of an index is annoying and a glaring omission.

This book does not try to make you believe that owning your own business is for anyone and everyone. The reality is that some people are clearly more suited to this kind of endeavor than others, and perhaps one of the most valuable things you will get from this book is a more realistic grasp of whether or not owning your own business is as appealing as you thought it was.

Considering the relatively small size of the book, Turn Your Passion Into Profits is surprisingly comprehensive. It starts with the "dream" stage and takes you through some thought-provoking questions that will help you determine your suitability for being a business owner and focus your energies into a viable business vision. It gives excellent pointers on how to research your idea and develop a business plan. Then it covers every practical detail imaginable: how to choose a good location (including a check-list for negotiating a lease), the pros and cons of various financing options, how to set your pricing, ways to market your products, how to keep your customers satisfied, how to keep records and manage your money (even tips on collecting from deadbeats), how to hire employees and choose consultants, and how to move successfully beyond the start-up phase into the growth phase.

Many sections have step-by-step instructions for guidance, and the authors are careful to include information for both product-oriented businesses as well as service businesses and even manufacturing businesses. I found it particularly interesting to read of women who had started out with a store front until they had established their reputation and expertise. Then they closed the store and worked either as a consultant or moved to an entirely online enterprise. Interspersed throughout are the voices of real women who have successfully accomplished starting and running a business, providing both advice and warnings and giving the reader a very realistic picture of what they'll be up against.

As with so many books of this sort, there are some sections that will be more important for certain readers than others, but I am confident that any serious entrepreneur will find a great deal of value in Turn Your Passion Into Profits. If you're still in the "dreaming" stages, I would go so far as to call it a "must read." It could save you a great deal of time, money, and heartache.

© 2004 by Elizabeth H. Cottrell. All rights reserved worldwide.

Elizabeth H. Cottrell is a home-based entrepreneur, freelance technical writer, and owner of Riverwood Technologies, a desktop publishing company in Maurertown, Virginia. She is currently a staff writer and editor for IAHBE.

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