STARTING a business can be difficult. But arguably the hardest period for many business owners is when, having run their business for two years, they hit a crossroads. It's often then, when orders pick up or demand peaks, that things begin to hit the fan. It is a make-or-break time for many, now faced with tough questions: should I expand? Can I afford to hire more people? And, most important, am I really cut out for this?

In this quick read, Allon Raiz, one of South Africa's premier entrepreneurship experts, takes business owners through what to do when they want to give up. Much of the book is based on Raiz's experience of mentoring and coaching business owners. The fictional story of Rachel and her husband, Steve, that Raiz narrates, accurately represents the typical business owner, who having started a business two years back, has hit a wall.

Raiz's insight is gripping. Known for his no-nonsense approach to those he mentors, he cannot afford not to be hard when he has equity in many of those his incubator (arguably the most successful in South Africa) supports.

Raiz asks tough questions every business owner should ask themselves, such as: "Does your business have the economic right to exist?" and "Are you thinking big enough?"

Too many business owners fail to distinguish their services or products from those of their competitors. Too many are stuck not knowing whether to expand or to stay small. Too many are too busy working in their business, rather than on it. But most of all, not enough are really honest with themselves; too many entrepreneurs over- or underrate their abilities. Ultimately, it's a soul-seeking read.

One of Raiz's most critical pieces of advice is: don't compete on price; rather set your product or service apart through specialisation. Important too, is to leverage from everyone in your existing network to market your product or service, and then sell, sell, sell. Raiz also presents a simple way to calculate how profitable your business is, devoid of the usual taxing business formulas.

Much of Raiz's advice will cut right to the bone. Some will put you off running your business again, but most will reinvigorate how you see yourself and your talents. For Raiz, business owners looking to grow big must take a long, hard look in the mirror. Take a holiday and think about your business, he says. Ultimately entrepreneurs need to develop self-awareness, and set themselves on a path to self-actualisation, if they are to succeed.

This book is for those wondering what it must be like to run a business and wondering what they may face if they do. But it is particularly for those business owners who have become stuck and want to know how to get their drive back.

TITLE: What to Do When You Want to Give Up

AUTHOR: Allon Raiz (with Trevor Waller)

PUBLISHER: Macmillan