By Rieva Lesonsky

Looking to start a small business—but don’t have a big budget? Then pick up a copy of The Pocket Small Business Owner’s Guide to Starting Your Business on a Shoestring, by Carol Tice. A small business journalist who is also self-employed, Tice shares the wisdom she’s gleaned not only from decades of observing, talking to and writing about successful entrepreneurs, but also from being “in the trenches” herself.

Overspending is one of the most common reasons for small business failure, Tice explains—so this “survival guide” aims to help entrepreneurs avoid that fate by cutting expenses to the bone. “Develop the habit of questioning every expense,” Tice advises. Her mantra? “Avoid, reduce, or postpone” whenever possible.

Real examples from small business owners who do things the right way—and the wrong way—are a strong suit of this book. You’ll learn from cautionary tales while also getting inspired by success stories, such as the entrepreneur who started an ecommerce site for $60 (no, that’s not a typo) and two hours of outsourced work.

Among the useful tips, you’ll discover strategies for dealing with slow payers, how overhead can destroy your business, and how to handle collaborations or partnerships so that you maximize results and minimize costs. Not all of Tice’s advice is solely cash-focused, either. You’ll find out:

  • Why multiple-choice surveys are a bad idea when doing market research
  • How to “borrow” a business plan
  • Where to get ideas for blog posts

Tice’s focus on what can be learned from mistakes gives this book real-world applicability. For instance, she explains how the failure of Pets.com (the pet product website that flamed out spectacularly during the dotcom crash) led to the success of Petflow.com, an online pet food website. Where Pets.com tried to be everything to everyone, the founder of Petflow.com decided to focus on one niche—pet food—and use a subscription model to ensure steady business.

With lots of useful ideas and resources, including a downloadable companion workbook, this straightforward book will both inspire and motivate you to do more with less.