Entrepreneurship: Back to Basics

entbasics.jpgI don’t do many product or book reviews on this site. Besides, the last thing the net needs is YAROSWBGM, or “Yet Another Review of Something Written By Geoffrey Moore.” I like sharing “sleepers”, and today, I feel compelled to share with you a good one.

The other day I had lunch with Michael Blake, the valuation guru over at Adams Capital. Besides being gracious enough to serve on the advisory board for our new venture, Michael was kind enough to share with me a copy of the book he co-authored with Gordon Baty ( entitled “Entrepreneurship: Back to Basics“.)

I’ll be honest with you. I expected this book to be another compendium of rehashed advice for startups. I fully expected to see reams of information on “how to write a business plan”, “how to approach angel investors”, and “how to pitch.” Boy, was I surprised.

This book has to be one of the most practical, down-to-earth guides to entrepreneurship that I’ve seen. Here is the table of contents: a great preview of the nuggets that await you:

The first edition, authored by Gordon Baty, was pressed in 1990 – 16 years ago. Certain parts of the book show some age, but the advice given is still very solid.

The thing that appealed to me the most, though, had to be the way the book was structured. Each chapter was only a few pages long, which made it very easy to digest during, shall we say, my “personal reading” time. By structuring the book as such, it really is more of a handbook, or a resource that you can go back to, time and time again.

Mike was kind enough to answer a few questions for me via email – sort of a “virtual interview with the co-author” type of thing. Enjoy:

Q: What inspired you to work on this project?

Gordon Baty, the co-author, and author of the previous two editions, has been a good friend and mentor of mine for years. I thought his book needed to be updated to address the dot-com bubble as well as new technologies that change the way entrepreneurship occurs. He agreed and invited me to co-write the update.

Q: What are the biggest current challenges entrepreneurs are facing?

I’m not certain the question lends itself well to a global answer. I suppose the most obvious are 1. thinking strategically even when you’re frantically just trying to execute the business; 2. finding the right people to work with, whether they be employees, partners, or investors, and 3. making the transition from entrepreneur to executive.

Q: If I am an entrepreneur starting up something new, why should I get this book?

There are many fine books on entrepreurship out there. The central thesis of this book is that entrepreneuship is a skill, not simply divine inspiration. Like all skills, some individuals are endowed with greater innate talent than others, but also like all skills, nearly anyone can learn the skill of entrepreneurship to a useful level of competence if they apply themselves. The book is separated into chapters that address common issues that the emerging company faces. If the reader has a specific problem, he or she doesn’t need to read the whole book to find the answer. Simply turn to the right chapter and read our view on it. If the reader then needs greater depth, he or she can then read books that specialize on that topic, or hire people to address the issue.

The book is not so much about providing specific answers to specific problems, but rather, how to think about those problems. Thinking in a particular way is the fishing pole vs. fish argument.

What readers have told me they like about the book is that it’s not a “How I got to be a billionaire” book or a “YOU CAN DO IT!!!”
inspirational/self-help book. And many books equate entrepreneurship to business planning. Business planning is one activity that successful entrepreneurs tend to do, but the skill goes well beyond that.



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