About The Business Group

Contact Us

Business Group
369-B 3rd Street, #387
San Rafael, CA 94901
415-491-1896 tel
415-459-6472 fax 

Our Company

The Business Group gives small business owners a resource often reserved for execs of large organizations – problem solving and accountability from savvy independent peers. Since 1984, we’ve worked with way over a thousand business owners.

We combine resources all small business owners need:

— Our tools  and workshops improve management skills and help you tackle the challenges of running a growing, profitable business.

— Our business owner groups harness the power of a group of peers, and help relieve the isolation of running a small business.

We’ve built up quite a library of exercises, templates, workbooks, and books by tackling the day-to-day problems of business owners for twenty plus years.

Even those who use our tools on their own often take advantage of our forums that bring business owners together—starting with our free monthly teleseminars.


  • Growth. Business growth is not an end in itself, but a way to achieve other important personal values: stability, wealth build-up, making a desired contribution to the community.
  • Profitability. Profitability is the signal that you are doing a good job, and it is the engine of growth and creativity.
  • Ease. Business needn’t be a constant struggle. Your business works best when you work smoothly and without undue stress.
  • Balance. Set your business up so that you have the desired balance between business and the rest of your life, and between the various things you do in your business.
  • Satisfaction. You are in business to do what you love and what you do best. If you’re not doing this, why put up with the hassle?
  • Integrity. Your business is a reflection of your core values. There is no reason at all why your business can’t combine high personal integrity, satisfaction, contribution to your customers, and great prosperity.
  • Community. In today’s world, business—and especially small business—is central to our sense of community: the relationship of businesses to each other, businesses to customers, employers to employees, and businesses to the surrounding community.
  • Humor. Let’s not take all this too seriously. We’re here to laugh and have fun and enjoy ourselves. We try to convey this in our books, starting with the illustrations.
  • Sharing and learning.We believe in the Power of the Group. We don’t know all the answers. We would love to hear from you.

Mike Van Horn, MBA
President, the Business Group

Mike Van Horn is America’s small business expert.
Jim Horan, author of best-selling business planning book,
The One-Page Business Plan.

Mike Van Horn has advised business owners for over twenty years. His company, The Business Group, leads ongoing problem-solving groups for business owners.“My passion is working with small business owners. It is exciting to work with people who pour heart and soul into their endeavors, and to help them reap the rewards,” says Van Horn. “I like problem solving with people who have a direct stake in the outcome; who will say, Yes! or No! and not ‘Well, we’ll bring it up at the next committee meeting.’”

Mike has worked with the owners of well over a thousand companies. Every one of them thinks his or her business is unique, but when it comes to the barriers to growth, profitability, and ease of operation, Mike points out that all businesses are pretty much the same.

“I hear the same laments over and over again, and the advice I give has been boiled down to a handful of ideas. These ideas are the core of my books.”

His results speak for themselves. 80% of the companies he has worked with have achieved their goals of growth, profitability, and ease of operation. This contrasts with the common statistic that 4 out of 5 small businesses go belly up within a few years.

There are many resources that tell you how to launch a business, but very few that address the question, “Okay, I’m up and going. Now what?”

Mike has an MBA from UCLA—with an emphasis on small business management. He has taught in the business schools at University of San Francisco and Golden Gate University.

Over the years, Mike has started and run a handful of small businesses, some quite successful and others not. A restaurant. A motel. An export management firm. Several real estate partnerships. A company that produced technical conferences. And his current company, The Business Group, which started in 1984.

Mike on "The Beast."

“I’m sure I’ve made every mistake in the book. So I’m definitely speaking from experience.”

Every piece of advice Mike gives has been tested against the toughest of audiences—small business owners.

“I avoid unnecessary jargon and jazzy concepts because I focus on helping you implement simple ideas that can have real results in your business. When I sit across from you, if I start spouting jargon, I can see your eyes glaze over faster than I can say ‘strategic analysis.’ I use practical and plain language, so that you can go back to work and apply it next Monday.”

The Business Group is a family concern.

“I am fortunate to have my wife B.J. working in the business. We are collaborators, co-creators, and best of friends. Even after working together all week, I still look forward to spending the weekend with her.”


B.J. Van Horn, SPHR
Senior Professional in Human Resources

“We function better as a company because of B.J.’s support.”
— Mike Faith, C.E.O. & President, Headsets.com

B.J. Van Horn is a trusted advisor and resource to senior management, line staff and employees. She has clients in many industries—from hospitality to construction to pharma and technology. For over 30 years she has been a Human Resources manager and executive. She has been on the operations line of fire as well—having been GM of a $10 million operation—and knows the challenges you face from the inside out. Before starting her practice with small business, B.J. worked for Host International, Hyatt Hotels and Resorts, and Federated Department Stores in Human Resources. She established the H.R. function at the Bohemian Club and Grove, and was the first woman since the Club’s founding in 1872 to serve as General Manager.


My mantra is, “Create a firm, fair, and consistent workplace” and if you do, your business will take off in a positive and dynamic direction. Good Human Resources practice helps the employee gain the most from his/her association with the company, and the employer can get the most and best from the people who do the work.

Establishing and maintaining a firm, fair, and consistent workplace is also the surest way to legal compliance and high productivity for your business. But you need help to do it, from both a good Employment Attorney and a good Human Resources professional.

Lawyers are essential: they are the mapmakers who chart the ever-changing terrain of employment laws and regulations, and keep current on the letter of the law as it affects your business. H.R. professionals are the pathfinders and guides, leading you around quicksand, pointing out poisonous swamps and finding routes around them, recognizing red flags and keeping an ear to the ground for brigands and others who would take your purse, thus keeping you on the road to green pastures and prosperity! It’s an exciting journey, and one I want to be part of with every client I meet.

But don’t contact me if what you want is someone to track benefit eligibility, outsource payroll, or file 10 years worth of paperwork. Call me if what you want is clear advice, based on 30+ years of experience, to help you and your employees get where you want to go.

“We’ve had human resources people here, before, but they were more `H.R.-lite.’ You’re different—you think strategically. You give me three alternatives along with the consequences for each. This lets me make a decision and do my job better.”
– Chris Hicken, Headsets.com