What It Takes to Start a Business

The biggest myths debunked, the questions to answer before getting started, and why business success is probably closer than you think. 

4 lessons, 12 videos (30m)

What you’ll learn

What you’ll learn in What it Takes to Start a Business

You will learn what it takes to start a business from a highly successful entrepreneur who has started over a dozen businesses.

  • You will learn the questions you need to ask yourself to see if starting a business is a good fit for you.
  • You will learn that you can start a business with very little money and without related experience.
  • You will learn the key factors for business success that are more important than money and experience. You will discover that having a successful business could be closer than you think.

What you were afraid to ask before getting started 

Decide if starting a business is right for you. This course debunks the biggest myths and shows you what starting a business is really like. It will inspire you and help you to take the first step forward. 

Success is within your reach. Our videos will explain why starting a business is easier than you think and why you probably already have what it takes to succeed. 

The real keys to success, directly from a highly experienced entrepreneur. After taking this course you will know the most crucial things to do and not to do when getting started. 

Watch a sample video from the course

What It Takes to Start a Business Content

There are so many myths circulating around when it comes to starting a business. Often, they scare people away from reaching their true potential. The truth is, starting a business is probably within your reach… In this lesson, serial entrepreneur Bob Adams debunks 5 harmful myths about starting a business. 

(9:00, 5 videos)

Before you actually get started, there are a few questions that you need to ask yourself. Answering these questions will help you determine if the entrepreneurial life is a good fit for you. They will also prepare you for the decisions that you will have to make in the early stages of your business life. 

(10:41, 4 videos)

There are a few key things that make all the difference when starting a business. And it’s probably not what you expect. In this lesson, serial entrepreneur Bob Adams shares with you the critical success factors that make or break new businesses and aspiring entrepreneurs. 

(7:01, 2 videos)

Starting a business beats winning the lottery. In this lesson, you will discover why a small business is your best bet to make a lot of money and why it is easier than you think to succeed in business. Bob Adams will also explain how he made 40 million dollars selling a business he started with $1,500.

(2:18, 1 video)


Bob Adams

Serial entrepreneur, Harvard MBA and founder of BusinessTown

In this course, Bob explains what it takes to start a business. Using his own experiences in starting over a dozen successful businesses, he shows that you don’t need a lot of money or a lot of experience to start a business.

He also shatters myths about starting a business and explains that you don’t have to be “a born entrepreneur” to start a business. Instead he explains that anyone can learn the skills they need to start their own business.

Bob has mastered the art of starting businesses with very little money, and making them highly profitable. Bob started his book publishing company in his basement apartment with just $1500 and no related experience. He built it into one of the largest independent publishers in the US, achieving industry-leading profit margins. He later sold this business for $40 million.

Bob has written 17 books and created 52 courses that have helped over one million entrepreneurs worldwide. 


Hi there! I’m Bob Adams. I’m a Harvard MBA serial entrepreneur. I’ve started over a dozen businesses including BusinessTown, the go-to learning platform for starting and running a business.

I’ve authored or co-authored 17 books on business. I’ve also created 52 online courses for entrepreneurs which you can stream on BusinessTown.

I am so excited that you are considering starting (or perhaps already have started) your own business! For me starting and building my own businesses has been incredibly awesome!

I’ve made a lot of money, created cool products, delivered valuable services, provided employment for others, built some great companies and had one heck of a lot of fun and fulfillment along the way!

I started with nothing. Nobody handed me money or an existing business. Yes, I did get a Harvard MBA – but many of my businesses I started before I ever set foot in a business school classroom.

Most of my businesses I started in my home on a very small budget. I have shown repeatedly that you can start your business small and grow it into a highly profitable enterprise.

When I was 19 and on summer vacation from Carleton College, I started my first business with just $1,000, Bob’s Rent-A-Bike. I had little money, no experience and of course no business plan. In short, I had no idea what I was doing.

My father was appalled. Don’t do it! – he said. It won’t work! Get a real job.

To be honest I was scared the business would fail and I would look like an idiot. But I went ahead and started it anyway. Bob’s Rent-A-Bike was a big success. And I’ve been starting and running my own businesses ever since then.

The flyers for my first business

were rather crude – but they worked!

Another summer I started a house painting business, College Painters. The closest thing I had to experience was that I had painted some model trains and once I even painted an old row boat.

I started this business with virtually no money. I even had the first customer advance us cash so that I could buy paint and brushes.

This is a great example of how easy it can be to start your own business. I made profits from the very first painting job even with no experience.

A few years later I decided to start a book publishing company, Adams Media. Again, starting small was a given because I only had $1500 to invest and I was still a full time student. Like most of my other businesses I had no prior related experience.

I started Adams Media with $1,500 and

sold it for $40 million. 

My first book was a guide to local companies for job hunters called, The Boston Job Bank. Using all my low cost marketing ideas, I quickly turned this book into a #1 local bestseller.

I went on to publish many more books, growing Adams Media into one of the largest independent publishers in the US, before selling it for $40 million.

Once I was in your shoes, not sure what to do or how to get started.

But eventually through years of struggle, and trial and error, I discovered what worked in business and what did not work.

Fortunately you will not have to struggle through years of trial and error. That’s because on BusinessTown you can learn from myself and other experts what works in business and what doesn’t. We will give you the recipe for business success.

We will show you the same proven strategies that we have used to create one successful business after the next. You won’t have to guess what to do. You will be able to avoid the common and costly mistakes made by new entrepreneurs.

You don’t have to be a genius, a tech wizard or a business school graduate to succeed in business. You don’t need any business background at all. But success is going to come a lot easier if you first learn the important business fundamentals and keys to success. These are presented in the online courses at BusinessTown.

BusinessTown offers over 130 short courses for entrepreneurs. Our most popular courses include Start-a-Business 101, How to Create a Business Plan and How to Find a Business Idea. You can try BusinessTown for free.

Then like me, after you get your business up and running, you can enjoy the entrepreneurial lifestyle. It’s not just a wild crazy dream – you can do it. Here’s how my lifestyle changed since I’ve become an entrepreneur.

I control my own schedule. I get plenty of time for family, friends and doing the things that I like.

When I started out I lived in a small basement apartment. Well now I live in a 17 room classic brick manor home complete with a movie theater room, a complete gym, a home office, a wine cellar, my model train room, multiple garages, extensive gardens, a coy pond and a tennis court.

Being an entrepreneur means I work when and where I want including from one of my vacation homes on Cape Cod and the island of Nantucket. I also get to travel the world frequently and meet fascinating people.

Being my own boss means I have a lot of time to have fun and hang out with friends and family. I especially enjoyed being able to coach my kids in soccer in the middle of the afternoon during the week.

Everyone needs a hobby! I’m a little crazy about my model trains! They completely occupy one of the largest rooms in my house. I have 8 scale miles of track complete with scenery such as mountains, cities and harbors. I can operate up to 10 trains at once.

The best thing about being an entrepreneur is not the money, the big houses, the luxury cars or the fancy vacations. The best part is being able to do work that you truly love!

To actually get paid to do work that you really enjoy doing – it’s very cool! It’s also neat to be your own boss. To be in charge of your own destiny. To be the star of your own show!

I’m always learning new things. Being creative. And meeting interesting new people.

I love being an entrepreneur – and I think you will too!

I love my work! I’m always learning new things and meeting really interesting people.

To actually get paid to do work that you really enjoy doing – it’s very cool! It’s also neat to be your own boss. To be in charge of your own destiny. To be the star of your own show!

I’m always learning new things. Being creative. And meeting interesting new people.

I love being an entrepreneur – and I think you will too!

Businesses that I Started Myself

1. Online courses – BusinessTown
2. Book publishing – Adams Media*
3. Business software – Adams New Media*
4. Online job platform – CareerCity.com*
5. Magazine publishing – Careers Group*
6. Job fairs – Premier Job Fairs*
7. Job listing publication – JobBank*
8. House painting – College Painters
9. Tourist maps – Nantucket & Cape Cod Maps*
10. Classified advertiser – St. Paul Greensheet*
11. Bicycle rentals – Bob’s Rent-A-Bike
12. College newspaper -Spectrum
13. Used boat sales – Bobby’s Boat Yard
14. College directory – for Simmons College
15. Employment Agency
16. Rowboat building
17. Handyperson service

*Denotes businesses that I sold. Most of these businesses I started with less than $2,000 including Adams Media Corporation that I sold for $40 million. Many of these businesses I started from my home and part time.

To learn about the strategies I used to succeed in my businesses check out my courses including Start-a-Business 101, How to Create a Business Plan and How to Find a Business Idea. You can start streaming these courses and all the other courses on BusinessTown for free.

BusinessTown founder Bob Adams’s courses & books have been featured in:

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Frequently asked questions:

BusinessTown is an e-learning platform built for people interested in starting and running a business. 

On BusinessTown, you get unlimited access to 130+ business courses taught by real successful entrepreneurs and highly skilled experts. You also gain access to 50+ business tools and to our discussion board, where you can get expert answers to your business questions.

No matter what you want to learn or where you are on your business journey, there is a course for you. 

Marketing, ideas, financing, planning, naming, how to get started… BusinessTown covers everything you need to start and run your business right. 

The courses are available anywhere, anytime, on any device, and you can take them at your own pace. 

Create your BusinessTown account to get started and try BusinessTown free for 7 days. 

BusinessTown includes unlimited access to 130+ business courses taught by real successful entrepreneurs and highly skilled experts.

You also get full access to 50+ downloadable tools like worksheets, templates, and samples, and to our discussion board where you can get an answer to any business question you have. 

BusinessTown is $19.95 per month. It provides unlimited access to all 130+ courses, all tools, and our discussion board, where you can get expert answers to your business questions.

We offer a free 7-day trial. If you decide that BusinessTown is not for you, then just cancel within 7 days of starting your free trial and you will not be charged at all.

If you wish to cancel your BusinessTown account, you can do so through your account page under the Billing section. 

If you have any questions, email us at bbisson@www.businesstown.com. We are more than happy to help!

BusinessTown includes 130+ courses on all business topics: Getting started, business ideas, business plans, strategy, marketing, websites, social media, online advertising, finance, accounting, leadership, sales, legal issues, home-based businesses and more!

Looking for a business idea? Why don’t you check out our course How to Find a Business Idea. 

Do you need help creating your business plan? We’ve got you covered. Take a look at our course How to Create a Business Plan.

Do you want to be walked step by step through the entire process of starting a business? Check out our ultimate course, Start-a-Business 101. 

Are you not sure that you are ready to start your own business? Consider our course, What It Takes to Start a Business.

Are you looking for financing for a new or existing business? We offer 5 courses on financing a small business. We suggest you start with the course, How to Finance Your Business.

Do you want to learn about marketing? Because it’s so important, we offer over 30 courses on sales and marketing. Consider starting with the short course, Developing Your Marketing Message.

Want to learn about marketing online? We offer 5 courses on creating websites, 6 courses on digital marketing and 5 courses on promoting through social media. To get started we recommend the course, The Complete Guide to Digital Marketing.

Looking to get inspired and learn how other entrepreneurs succeeded in starting and growing their businesses? We offer several courses on this including, How to Succeed as a Woman Entrepreneur.

Do you already have a business and are looking to improve it? We have several courses on this topic. Try starting with the course, How to Boost Profits.

No matter where you are on your business journey, there is a course for you.  

On BusinessTown you have access to 50+ downloadable tools like worksheets, samples, and templates to help you start and run a business. 

Our most popular tools include:

The Ultimate Startup Checklist, 18 pages 

The 300 Best Small Business Ideas ebook, 105 pages 

The Complete Business Plan Template, 29 pages

Complete Sample Business Plan, 35 pages 

Sample Marketing Plan Under $2k, 12 pages

One Page Marketing Plan Template

One Page Sample Marketing Plan

50 Guerilla Marketing Tactics Worksheet, 8 pages

Business Idea Evaluation Worksheet 

8 Basic Steps to Making the Sale Template

Sales Presentations that Your Customers Will Love Template

Sales Presentation Sample Dialog

50 Ways to Generate Endless Sales Leads Worksheet 

Cold Calling Script Template and Sample

Emails that Land Sales Template and Sample

Voicemails that Get Callbacks Template and Sample

Income Statement Templates and Samples

Balance Sheet Templates and Samples

Cash Flow Templates and Samples

Calculate Depreciation Template

Key Financial Ratios Sample

How I Started a Successful Business with No Money and No Experience, Case Study

Key Questions to Select the Best Business Idea Worksheet

Validate Your Business Idea Worksheet

Using the 6-Step Approach to Choose a Business Idea Case Study

21 Easy-to-Start Part-Time Business Ideas Guide

42 Home-Based Businesses You Can Start Guide

Why I Repeatedly Changed the Legal Entity of My Business, Case Study

Evaluate Customer Segments and Competitors Worksheet

Differentiate Your Business from Competitors Worksheet

How I Differentiated My First Business in a Crowded Marketplace, Case Study

Creating a Press Release Template and Sample

Marketing Bob’s Rent-A-Bike, Case Study

Planning, Designing and Creating Your Website Worksheet

Search Engine Optimization Worksheet

50 Blog Post Ideas Worksheet

50 Creative Online Marketing Ideas Worksheet

Evaluate Potential Names for Your Business Worksheet

How I Financed Buying a Business Case Study

Cover Letter to Seek Financing Sample

Collection Letter Samples

The Four Quadrant Theory of Time Management Graphic

BusinessTown courses will show you how to start your business right and grow it into a highly successful enterprise. 

You will learn from highly experienced entrepreneurs and experts who have been there and done it. You won’t have to learn by trial and error. You won’t have to guess what to do next. BusinessTown courses will guide you through your entire business journey.

Even if you are a beginner you will quickly learn how to start a business you love. If you already have a business, BusinessTown will show how to grow it and make it better.

By just watching one video lesson a day (about 7 minutes average) you can quickly ramp up your business knowledge. No matter where you are on your business journey, there is a course for you taught by an expert on BusinessTown.

What would you like to learn more about today? Starting a business? How to find a business idea? How to write a business plan? How to do your marketing? How to build an online presence? How to get financing? How to prepare financial statements? BusinessTown has courses that cover all these topics and hundreds more.

So if you want to become a smarter entrepreneur and start and build a successful business, you’ll want to start streaming the courses on BusinessTown today.

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