If you want to start a business, but don't know where to start, then the place to start is with "Start Your Own Business: The Only Start-Up Book You'll Ever Need" by Rieva Lesonsky. The book is put out by Entrepreneur Press and is essentially a compilation of Entrepreneur Magazine's large knowledge database regarding starting a business.
The book literally takes you through the entire business process - from determining if you really have what it takes to run a business to how to deal with failure if your business doesn't work out, and everything in between. The best part about the book is that it covers nearly EVERYTHING in some capacity. If you need more information, it does a great job of suggesting further reading and pertinent web sites.
The book is broken down into seven sections, each with several chapters. The first section, 'You Gotta Start Somewhere' covers determining if you can be an entrepreneur, how to come up with an idea for your business, and whether you should launch your business part time or full time. Most people who buy the book will already have answers to these questions, but going through the exercises in the book can still be helpful.
The second section of the book is entitled 'Building Blocks'. It covers how to name your business, choosing a business structure, creating a business plan, and how to hire a lawyer and accountant. I think that this is the most valuable section of the book. These are the things that most entrepreneurs either struggle with or ignore. The "Naming Your Business" chapter in particular helped me a great deal. Naming your business is not nearly as easy as you think - you need to consider all registered trademark names, registered domain names, and names that are being used but not trademarked. One of the worst things that you can do is to pick a name that is already being used by someone and face a legal battle down the road.
The third section covers financing including where and how to get money to run your business. The fourth section, 'Setting the Stage' is absolutely massive and covers numerous important things such as choosing a location for your business, creating a professional image, offering customers credit, hiring your first employee, and business insurance. Needless to say, all of these things are extremely important to every business owner.
The fifth section covers buying company computers, cell phones, and cars. These things probably won't be very difficult for most business owners. The sixth section, however, covers one of the hardest thing every business owner faces - marketing. The section is nearly 100 pages about advertising, marketing, and public relations. It also briefly touches on web-marketing but those looking to seriously profit online will need to look elsewhere because the book is a little thin when it comes to e-commerce.
The final section, entitled 'By the Books' goes over every entrepreneurs favorite things - accounting and taxes. It gives solid advice regarding basic bookkeeping, financial statements, budgeting, and taxes. For most business owners this section and the web resources listed should be more than enough to get them started on keeping their business legal.
I can't overemphasize how important I think it is for every business owner to have this book. It is a mini-encyclopedia (ok, so 800 pages isn't THAT mini) for everything business related. Having this book on your shelf will save you countless hours. I read it from cover to cover when I got it and I constantly refer back to it. I have recommended it to every person I know that has talked with me about starting a business. Each and every one of them bought it, and each and every one of them came back to me raving about it.
For the amount of depth that is covered in the book, Start Your Own Business: The Only Start-Up Book You'll Ever Need by Rieva Lesonsky is an amazingly easy read. Anyone over the age of 16 will be able to comprehend the simple nature of the book. Reading this book won't guarantee your success as an entrepreneur, but it will help reduce the risk of starting a business by providing you with a sound foundation to build upon.