I frequently hear from readers who want to solve the problem of small business start up with a magic bullet: "Isn't there some person who will advise me, direct me and make it easy for me to get up to speed on entrepreneurship - for free?" They're looking for a weekend course that will answer all their questions with 10 simple slogans. This tendency - call it impatience, laziness or basic human nature - explains why so many would-be entrepreneurs fall for sloppy scams. If you live by the old saw about how there's "no free lunch" or you're a card-carrying Skeptic like me, you're pretty unlikely to be ripped off. But there are a lot of people who just want to believe - and don't want to do the hard work of preparing for a successful business career. I tell these folks that it's difficult to start a business, but it's far, far easier than it used to be. With the amount of information, free advice and hands-on help available online these days, there's really no excuse for going into business half-assed. When would-be small business owners take the time and make the effort to research and educate themselves, they can become really savvy by the time they go forward - if they're not scared off by the substantial reality check involved! There's a lot to learn and there are no shortcuts, but if you're a wanna-be small business owner, do the hard work and educate yourself first. Understanding that there are no shortcuts is the first step to running a successful company.