A good guide for aspiring entrepreneurs

A good guide for aspiring entrepreneurs

Miki Agrawal is a 30-something, bright, energetic entrepreneur who encourages readers to follow their dreams and start their own businesses in her new book, "Do Cool Sh*t."

She currently has three businesses: a farm-to-table pizza place, WILD, in New York and Las Vegas; Super Sprowtz, with her twin sister, Radha, a children's multimedia company that encourages healthy eating; and finally, THINX, a sustainable underwear company for women.

With all this successful business experience, Agrawal teaches readers how to come up with a business idea and put it into practice in her how-to book.

After a foreword from Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos.com, an online retailer of shoes and clothing, and her partner in the Las Vegas WILD restaurant, Agrawal lists the perfect audience for her book, from people who want to follow their real passion and have supportive friends to others who want to start a business and learn how to raise money.

Written in a conversational style and drawing on the author's experiences, Agrawal's book makes it seem almost easy to follow your dreams.

She definitely has some guts and determination, which are useful in starting and maintaining a successful business.

The opening chapter explains how she met and partnered with Hsieh. Some critics have said that her methods won't work for the "normal person" and that she was already connected when she began changing her life.

But she's not saying, "Do this like I did." She shows you what she did and then asks questions, so you can use her experience as a model and start your own successful life.

As a matter of fact, two of the questions she presents near the beginning of the book are: What is your definition of success? Why do you want to be successful?

Chapter topics range from looking at your personal life and friends, including eliminating bad relationships and nurturing good ones, to finding your calling to funding business plans.

She also covers ways to get media attention if you are a nobody with no connections, recovering from mistakes that lose customers and clients and even taking care of yourself while running your business.

Most chapters have several highlighted boxes with the title — "Do Cool Sh*t Takeaway." These boxes are almost like a workbook to help you apply the knowledge shared to your own life and situation.

For example, in the chapter on doing good and fixing the world, she asks readers to answer three questions: What's a problem you are passionate about? What's an idea or solution that could solve this problem? What is a product, service or business that you could create to make this solution possible?

She even provides "Do Cool Sh*t Lessons," such as old favorites like don't take no for an answer or offer a free perk to potential customers. One of the best pieces of advice for business owners comes in a box, "Hire slow, fire fast." Agrawal states, "No one has ever said that they fired somebody too soon. Always check references."

Besides a motivational message of starting your own business, the author also preaches helping out and volunteering in the world, which is a refreshing message in a business book.

She includes ways she and her sister have incorporated community and world service into their business plans and encourages readers to do the same.

In the end, she quotes Steve Jobs and says that reading this quote changed "everything for me." Jobs said, "Life can be much broader once you discover one simple fact, and that is, everything around you that you call life was made up by people that were no smarter than you."

Jobs goes on to say that you can change and mold your life once you understand that.

If you are unhappy with the way life is working out for you right now or you know someone who wants to start his or her own business but doesn't know where to begin, "Do Cool Sh*t" is a helpful resource and may motivate dream-following to begin.

Margo L. Dill is celebrating the release of her second novel, "Caught Between Two Curses," a young-adult novel exploring love, family and the Curse of the Billy Goat on the Cubs. She also is the author of "Finding My Place: One Girl's Strength at Vicksburg," a middle grade historical fiction novel. She lives in St. Louis with her family.

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