"It used to be I'd go to parties and meet my friends' friends and we'd start sleeping together. . . . Now my friends introduce their friends to each other and we go into business together."

-- Stefanie Syman, coeditor of the webzine feed, quoted by Michael Krantz in "The Great Manhattan Geek Rush of 1995," New York, November 13, 1995

What do sex and entrepreneurship have in common? All the technical manuals in the world can't prepare you for the actual experience of doing it. I can't tell you the number of times I've heard that story from first-time entrepreneurs, and it doesn't seem to matter how much business experience they have. From retired schoolteachers to former big-company executives, they all say they were totally unprepared for the "shock" of being in business for themselves.

Now people starting out can get at least a taste of what lies ahead, thanks to a new book by Anita F. Brattina, titled Diary of a Small Business Owner: A Personal Account of How I Built a Profitable Business (AMACOM, 1996, $21.95). Longtime Inc. readers may recall Brattina from the two-part feature we published in 1993, "The Diary of a Small-Company Owner." Brattina had been one of two female business owners in her area selected by a nonprofit organization to receive a high-powered board of directors. In the article she chronicled her experiences with the board as well as the travails of running her marketing consulting company. Her book expands on those accounts. With insight, sensitivity, and humor, she brings to life the daily frustrations, challenges, and successes with which every small-business owner is familiar. She writes about the most routine matters in a way that is original, fresh, captivating, and reeking with authenticity. You won't learn much here about technique, about getting it right -- that's not her purpose -- but this is the one book I've read that dramatizes the day-to-day realities awaiting anyone going into his or her own business for the first time.