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Books with sound ideas for small businesses

Here are some recent books on starting your own business that may be of help: Big Profits From Small Companies, by Steven D. Popell. Mountain View, Calif.: Lomas Publishing Company. 232 pp. $19.95.

After showing why some small firms fail, Mr. Popell wants to make sure your small company succeeds. He explains briefly, but clearly, marketing, financial, profit and credit management, how to manage banking relations, and how to choose outside professionals.

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Popell warns of growing too fast, taking on very large customers that can double your sales (and triple your receivables) overnight. He shows how to handle your suppliers and keep their respect if your payments are late -- and how to minimize late payments to you.

One of the most important sections explains how to find, and keep in touch with, data necessary to control and plan your business. Figuring profits on each product, calculating asset-to-liability ratios, and tracking the flow of funds can help you run the business and keep the business from running you.

Written for the sophisticated entrepreneur as well as the mom-and-pop store owner, Popell uses a minimum of business terms, and he explains those he uses.

Real Money From Home, by Valerie Bohigian. New York: New American Library. 305 pp. $8.95.

``No more peanuts for profits,'' advocates small-business owner Valerie Bohigian. She advises small service-business owners to develop their own ``golden niches.''

The book is packed with case histories, almost in story format at times, which illustrate how to find your special niche and how to keep your customers happy, avoiding ``niche invasion.''

Ms. Bohigian shows you how to increase your income without increasing your workload by envisioning yourself as an employer. She encourages you how to expand your profits by solving your customer's problems and relieving his pain, rather than by hard-sell techniques.

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She advises you to avoid ``troublemaker'' customers and details how teaching a class on your specialty can add significantly to profits.

Finally, the book explores eight main categories of service businesses that you could start from home.

Business Plans That Win $$$, by Stanley Rich and David Gumpert. New York: Harper & Row. 220 pp. $19.95.

This is not just another book on writing business plans. This one tells you how to chart the future of your company. A founder and past chairman of the celebrated MIT Enterprise Forum, Stanley R. Rich, has listened to countless business plans presented by companies seeking financing. His co-author, David Gumpert, is the small-business editor of the Harvard Business Review.

A must if you are searching for venture capital, this book tells you what turns investors on to your company -- and what turns them off.

It encourages you to find your personal objective for the company -- whether to go for fast growth or to produce a ``cash cow.''

And of course the book hits those hard issues -- finding and selling your product's real user benefits and adding the management team to your ``one-man band.''

The authors explain ``making the numbers believable.'' MIT Enterprise Forum case histories are sprinkled liberally through the pages.

Studying this book can win you not only investment dollars, but also higher profits from a better-run company.

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