The Entrepreneur’s Manual: Business Start-Ups, Spin-Offs, and Innovative Management by Richard White, despite being 30 years old and out of print, is the best book I’ve read on how to build a start-up / be an entrepreneur.
There appears to be a small cult following around this book — all who’ve read it, such as my friend Chris Yeh who first recommended it to me, say it’s one of the best on entrepreneurship they’ve ever read. The problem is the book is out of print so not easily acquired (though Amazon has plenty of used copies), and there is virtually no information online about the author, Richard White, or his Bay Area VC firm from which he makes his observations.
Nevertheless, if you want a frank, clear, comprehensive guide to starting a business, I strongly recommend this book. It’s the rare book that outlines all the start-a-business steps and offers original and entertaining nuggets of wisdom on how to be successful and happy. Due to its age, there are a few dated sections and sprinkles of sexism (the author details “the Wife Problem” and how it plagues start-up owners), but these parts can be easily skipped.
I typed up detailed notes over at BookOutlines. I’ve pasted some of his “axioms” below.
Axiom One: In a free enterprise economy, there are always more dollars searching for viable and developed ideas than there are ideas searching for dollars.
Axiom Two: Your company must be the image of what your industry needs…the industry will not conform and be the image of what your company needs.
Axiom Three: Your sales price is totally a function of your product’s value as seen by your customers. In no way is your sales price a function of your costs to produce your product.
Axiom Four: Your company’s objectives must be in harmony with your inner self.
Axiom Five: If the financial communities feel that an industry is a growth industry, they will invest in it heavily enough in years to come to make it a growth industry.
Axiom Six: If the financial communities feel that an industry will plateau and become stagnant, they will withhold essential funds and stunt that industry’s growth so that it will indeed plateau and become stagnant.
Axiom Eight: First rate men hire first rate men, second rate men hire third rate men, these third rate men will then employ the bulk of your company’s employees who tend to be fourth rate people.
Axiom Nine: You need to attract talents, disciplines, and personalities which complement…not duplicate…each other.
Axiom Ten: Regardless of how large, how old, or how established your company becomes, there is room for only one management team. There should never be factions.
Axiom Eleven: You will realize as much from your people as you allow them to produce.
Axiom Twelve: If everyone is responsible for a task, then in truth no one is responsible, and the task will not be completed properly.
Axiom Fifteen: Sales training is a forever thing, an ongoing requirement as long as your company exists.
Axiom Seventeen: Nothing ever happens unless somebody sells something.
Axiom Nineteen: You’re not after all the business. You are after all of the profitable business that you can handle.
17 comments on “Book Notes: The Entrepreneur’s Manual (Best Book on Entrepreneurship I’ve Read)”
Thanks Ben. Having recently finished reading Andreessen’s stuff I was looking for another practical book on entrepreneurship.
Glad you liked the book. Even gladder that you posted the outline.
P.S. Your new profile photo is MUCH better.
Just read this post in a Chapters/Indigo Starbucks. Really compelling. Going to buy now. Thanks for the head start on what to expect.
Love the new profile pic Ben!
Thank you so much for posting those axioms. I just sat down to my feed reader, and this was precisely the inspiration I needed right now.
Wow… Sounds like a great read. Thanks for posting this up. I’ll check it out.
Especially #10. I used to work for a rapidly growing company that fell apart because of this one.
Thanks for the book recommendation, will definitely check it out!
Now, a question. If you could write a single axiom that sums up your experience in creating and launching Comcate, what would it be? I know it is probably extremely difficult to sum it all up in one, but please indulge me.
I don’t mean to lessen the value of the book, however why would you skip over the section on “the Wife Problem?” It’s got to at least provide some comic relief.
I really like the concision of these axioms, and number four is very wise.
The bit about “most outstanding salesmen are relatively unstable individuals…they also require constant attention/adoration; they need to dominate; continuously looking for an employer who satisfies their inner needs…” is funny. Sounds like the criteria for diagnosis of narcissistic personality disorder.
I agree about the profile photo. Now you don’t look as old as me.;-)
Cameron, it’s impossible to do! 🙂
Count me as another fan of your new profile photo. I especially like the black and white color scheme. It’s so seldom used nowadays.
These are tremendous axioms for any entrepreneur to follow. I’ll definitely want to pick up this book. Thanks.
I actually read all your notes last night (not the first time I’ve dug into your notes). They were pretty helpful. Thanks
Not having read the book, I can only speculate what he says about a ‘wife problem,’ but before you dismiss it, consider that anyone in a relationship will end up having to negotiate time with their partner. It is sometimes hard for the spouse/partner to understand the time commitment require, particularly when the payoff is nebulous and down the road. I’ve seen this in both business and school situations (law school in my experience). Had the book been released this year, perhaps that chapter would have been “The Spouse Problem”
Would love to see what could be the reaction of Mark Hurd, CEO of HP if he gets to read Axiom #3 – for the ruthless pricing of printer cartridges that he gouges from his customers!
I will definitely pick this up. Thanks for the great outline and suggestion.
actually, the “wife problem” section is as practical as the rest of the book, and could easily be rewritten as the “spouse problem” the book is sexist though, speaking of men as the ones doing business. probably meant “white males” as well, but the concepts are still well presented and abundantly practical regardless of sex!
It is a legenary text book.
It ia a legendary text book.