Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Book Review: Spark and Hustle: Launch and Grow Your Small Business Now, by Tory Johnson

Spark and Hustle: Launch and Grow Your Small Business Now
by Tory Johnson 
Berkley Books
287 pages 

I have this thing about books I'm reading and the New Year.

I absolutely, positively cannot be in the middle of a book when the clock strikes midnight. A brand new year means a brand new reading year, too. Sometimes this means I'm bookless on December 31 and sometimes this means I'm reading right up until the minute the ball drops in Times Square.

And, as if that's not crazy enough (although I see most of you nodding your head in self-recognition), my first book of the year can't be just any book. Oh, no. It needs to be something inspirational and motivational. Something that will hold meaning for all the 365 days ahead.

A tall order, I know.

In the past, I've ushered in January with a volume or two of poetry, which was fine. This year, as I spent the waning days of the calendar glued to fiscal cliff news and worrying over how much further I was going to fall off my own fiscal cliff, I wanted something that would set the tone for the year.

So I picked up my signed copy of Tory Johnson's Spark and Hustle: Launch and Grow Your Small Business Now. 

I met Tory back in August when I attended her one-day conference here in Pittsburgh. I didn't do a highlight reel of 2012, but if I did, meeting Tory would be on it.

As I wrote back in August after the Spark and Hustle conference, I could relate to Tory's story of being laid off and her fear - even after getting another job - that she would find herself in the same situation again. I could understand the desire to start a new venture, which was something I admittedly had been wanting to do for quite some time.

What the Spark and Hustle conference does well (among many things) is to show real life examples of women's success as entrepreneurs in a fun but professional atmosphere where there is absolutely "no selling from the stage." Sure, I bought Tory's book - but that's because (hello! it's me!) you know I was going to buy the book regardless. If the chick sitting next to me had written a book, I would have bought hers.

My point is: there wasn't any pressure to do so. (In fact, I didn't even know they were for sale until more than 3/4 of the way through the event.)

When you leave the Spark and Hustle conference, you leave believing you have the capacity to start a business - but you're still a little wary and unsure about how, exactly, this is going to happen. Spark and Hustle: Launch and Grow Your Small Business Now highlights some of Tory's key messages from the conference (namely that your success is "all about the hustle" that you put in each day), but also gives the reader the practical tips, strategies, and ideas for putting that into a well-defined action plan that leads to success.

That's what I appreciated most about Spark and Hustle: Launch and Grow Your Small Business Now. There are more than a few people who do similar work as Tory who simply espouse platitudes like, "Your strengths will lead to your success!" and "Follow your passion every single day!" Those sentiments are all fine and well and good if that's what you want.

Sometimes you need more concrete advice.

Like, how exactly following that passion (and figuring out what the hell that is in the first place) can lead to a fuller bank account.

You need advice on how to best determine pricing strategy.

You need someone (Tory) to say that they love Suze Orman (I do too, just so we're clear on that, because Suze sometimes scares me), but that it is OK if you start a business without 12 months of savings in the bank because most people can't wait that long. Especially when we're teetering on a fiscal cliff.

You need to hear what is involved in designing and manufacturing and licensing a product, if that's what you have in mind for your business, or where you can find clients for your service-related business.

You need to know how to maximize the social media world, if you're unfamiliar with it and the potential it has for you and your business.

You need funding - but how much? And from where? And with what business plan?

You need pointers for getting over the fear of selling.

All that - and more - is what Spark and Hustle: Launch and Grow Your Small Business Now tells you, right from the very first lines.
"We both know why you're here.
You were downsized.  Your hours were cut. Your employer went bust. You need to make more money to get by. You've graduated from college without a job and your career path isn't clear. You want to use your own smarts and creativity to take charge of your working life." (pg. 1) 
Tory Johnson makes you believe that you can do exactly that.

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1 comment:

Melissa Sarno said...

Methinks I need this book.