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Drive a Modest Car: & 16 Other Keys to Small Business Success Paperback – Sep 1 2004


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 350 pages
  • Publisher: Nolo Press; 2 edition (September 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1413300758
  • ISBN-13: 978-1413300758
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

Product Description

About the Author

Ralph Warner is a co-founder and e-publisher of Nolo.com and one of the pioneers of the self-help law movement. A graduate of Princeton University and the Boalt School of Law (U.C. Berkeley), he is the author of many books and articles aimed at making our legal system more accessible and democratic. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Especially if you haven't yet greeted your first customer, it may seem premature to focus on the importance of staying committed to your business over the long term. Read the first page
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Format: Paperback
Drive a Modest Car & 16 Other Keys to Small Business Success is a cold wakeup slap across the face for both existing entrepreneurs and those who are about to venture into their own business. It may shatter your preconceptions of what works and what doesn't work in today's fickle and frugal consumer market.
Nolo Press as advertised puts it all in simple yet defining terms. No theoretical, Wall Street, mumbo jumbo. From both hips you get the straight shot. Like why it's better to be in a service business as opposed to manufacturing or retail. Why you should never buy a franchise and why working hard won't necessarily make a better business. The book doesn't stop with what you should do as a business, but does a thoroughly decent job of how to market your ideas, grow your business and most importantly find joy and satisfaction in what you're doing. Ralph Warner covers the ins and outs in such an easy flowing way that you'll find you have wolfed down chapter after chapter still being able to retain each bite size morsel of great advice with the delicious savor of a five star multi-course dinner.
I would rate this as one of the little gems I've found among the barrage of business books that pretense to have answers to the great questions of how to do business the right way.
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By Gerard on Sept. 28 2002
Format: Paperback
I've been self-employed as a IT consultant for about 18 months. This isn't the first business book I've read, nor the one most focused on what I do, and it won't be the one that has the most impact on how I run my business (more industry-specific books did that).
What it DID do was give me a good morale boost. The writer owns the publishing company that makes the book, a successful legal self-help publisher in business 30 years. It reassured me that a lot of the things that seemed like the right thing to do (driving a modest car among them; no more Corvette for me since I went out on my own) were, in fact, sound ideas. It does make sense to focus as much as you can on service because it's the most profitable; this reassured me that my decision only to specify but not to sell hardware and software (let somebody else have the 2% mark-up and spare me collecting tax) was probably the right one.
It also confirmed for me that it's perfectly normal and reasonable for businesses to ramp up slowly at first, and I am indeed building good clients slowly but steadily and it's nice to know from reading what an old hand has to say that I'm not behind the curve because my business hasn't grown explosively.
There were definitely some ideas in there that I have taken away that have made a significant impact on me; I had considered the possibility that at some point I would open a franchise restaurant in a particularly choice, unexploited area with massive traffic volume near where I live, but having read that chapter on franchises I'm absolutely convinced owning a franchise could never be for me. Who becomes an entrepeneur so that they can have their every idea circumscribed by someone elses rules?
Read more ›
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Format: Paperback
My dad runs his own business, a somewhat successful machine shop in Silicon Valley that experiences the ups and downs of the tech industry -- needless to say, his business was suffering through a major low a few months ago, as was his attitude toward his shop.
He read "Drive a Modest Car" (a feat in itself, as my dad's not one to pick up a book, but he said he felt like the author was speaking his language, which impresses me to no end). He found that a lot of his instincts regarding how he did business were embraced by the author, such as giving credit for good work done by employees, and picked up some ideas he then implemented, including not working long hours (finally!).
It's probably the best gift I ever gave him.
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Format: Paperback
I love business books but this is the first one I've found that really links profits, common sense and emotional well-being. It's an engaging and logical step-by-step approach to financial success without burnout. Really worthwhile!!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 7 reviews
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
Really wonderful Sept. 28 2002
By Gerard - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I've been self-employed as a IT consultant for about 18 months. This isn't the first business book I've read, nor the one most focused on what I do, and it won't be the one that has the most impact on how I run my business (more industry-specific books did that).
What it DID do was give me a good morale boost. The writer owns the publishing company that makes the book, a successful legal self-help publisher in business 30 years. It reassured me that a lot of the things that seemed like the right thing to do (driving a modest car among them; no more Corvette for me since I went out on my own) were, in fact, sound ideas. It does make sense to focus as much as you can on service because it's the most profitable; this reassured me that my decision only to specify but not to sell hardware and software (let somebody else have the 2% mark-up and spare me collecting tax) was probably the right one.
It also confirmed for me that it's perfectly normal and reasonable for businesses to ramp up slowly at first, and I am indeed building good clients slowly but steadily and it's nice to know from reading what an old hand has to say that I'm not behind the curve because my business hasn't grown explosively.
There were definitely some ideas in there that I have taken away that have made a significant impact on me; I had considered the possibility that at some point I would open a franchise restaurant in a particularly choice, unexploited area with massive traffic volume near where I live, but having read that chapter on franchises I'm absolutely convinced owning a franchise could never be for me. Who becomes an entrepeneur so that they can have their every idea circumscribed by someone elses rules?
I'm not sure this book would really help someone who's been self-employed 30 years like the author has, but for someone green like myself it's make a real impact. I really liked the tone of the book and the author seems emminently likable, honest, and direct. I highly recommend it.
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
My father loved it Aug. 20 2002
By "brentdavidjohn" - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
My dad runs his own business, a somewhat successful machine shop in Silicon Valley that experiences the ups and downs of the tech industry -- needless to say, his business was suffering through a major low a few months ago, as was his attitude toward his shop.
He read "Drive a Modest Car" (a feat in itself, as my dad's not one to pick up a book, but he said he felt like the author was speaking his language, which impresses me to no end). He found that a lot of his instincts regarding how he did business were embraced by the author, such as giving credit for good work done by employees, and picked up some ideas he then implemented, including not working long hours (finally!).
It's probably the best gift I ever gave him.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
One Of The Best June 9 2005
By Kevin Devine - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Everyone who is interested in starting a small business will benefit from this book. No exceptions. Especially if you are still in the "just thinking" stage, read this book.

This is no idle recommendation. I work with people every day who are interested in starting a business, and have myself written books designed to help people start a business. And I must admit, this is one of the most down-to-earth, common sense business advice books that I have come across.

Not unlike Paul Hawken's classic Growing a Business, Warner's book is not really a how-to book, but rather is filled with practical advice on how to start and manage a profitable business. Sometimes these ideas go against the grain of what others advise. For example, one of the chapters is Don't Work Long Hours, in which he make the case that if you can't make a profit working reasonable hours, you probably can't make a profit at all.

Some of Warner's other suggestions put new spins on time-worn advice, such as to constantly innovate, develop a competitive edge, and to market creatively. Other ideas are more unusual, such as to sell services not products, to avoid franchises, and as the title notes, drive a modest car.

I have only a few quibbles with this book. One is that I found the endless examples to be, well, nearly endless. Rather than break his advice down to its essence and then follow up with a single example, Warner often uses example after example to make his point. He also frequently changes typeface and layout to highlight examples, but then other times does not. And finally, the title of the book is unfortunate. Although good advice, the real subject of the book is in the subtitle, 16 Other Keys to Small Business Success.

If you seek to break the chains of your oppressive job, you can't go wrong reading this primer first. And don't forget, if you buy this book as part of your business research, its cost is probably tax deductible!
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Drive this book home! Dec 9 2003
By Gary Kaminski - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Drive a Modest Car & 16 Other Keys to Small Business Success is a cold wakeup slap across the face for both existing entrepreneurs and those who are about to venture into their own business. It may shatter your preconceptions of what works and what doesn't work in today's fickle and frugal consumer market.
Nolo Press as advertised puts it all in simple yet defining terms. No theoretical, Wall Street, mumbo jumbo. From both hips you get the straight shot. Like why it's better to be in a service business as opposed to manufacturing or retail. Why you should never buy a franchise and why working hard won't necessarily make a better business. The book doesn't stop with what you should do as a business, but does a thoroughly decent job of how to market your ideas, grow your business and most importantly find joy and satisfaction in what you're doing. Ralph Warner covers the ins and outs in such an easy flowing way that you'll find you have wolfed down chapter after chapter still being able to retain each bite size morsel of great advice with the delicious savor of a five star multi-course dinner.
I would rate this as one of the little gems I've found among the barrage of business books that pretense to have answers to the great questions of how to do business the right way.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Wish I had picked up a copy 7 years ago! March 19 2009
By Pacific Trail Books - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I read a lot of business "how to" books. Most are written by academics (Harvard Business school stuff). What is different about this book is that the author is a founder of a real business - Nolo publishing (30+ year old business), Ralph Warner. Mr Warner points this out in the introduction of the book. HE IS A SUCCESSFUL BUSINESS PERSON.

Most of the book is "meat & potatoes" type stuff: How to avoid burnout, finding and keeping good employees, avoid working long hours.

Having started a business from scratch 7 years ago, I am still amazed how much attention it requires to keep it thriving.

If you are just now starting a business, read this book. If you have been at it for 7 years - even better to read it now.

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