Mission Possible: A book review by Bob Morris

Mission Possible: How to build a business for our times 
Alexandre Mars
Nicholas Brealey Publishing (January 2023)

Whether you think you can launch a successful new company– or can’t,  you’re probably right

This is a “must read” for most entrepreneurs as well as for those who aspire to become one. In it, Alexandre Mars shares what he has learned about startup initiatives. More specifically, the most common issues to be addressed, the barriers to be avoided or overcome, and the dos and don’ts of positioning a company for sale if it is among the 6% that are still solvent after five years.

These are among the insights in Mars’s book that may be of greatest interest and value to those who aspire to entrepreneurship or have only recently launched a startup:

o If there is no competition, there may be no market.
o The “first-movers” are those who find a way to make the concept go mainstream before others do, and not a moment too soon.
o Those with the drive to try their luck often didn’t start out with any advantages in the first place.
o Solutions and answers are usually found beyond where you are and what you assume now. Go find them!
o Think long and hard before you commit to a partnership. Be receptive to appropriate collaboration.

o Delegate whatever you don’t know how to do, don’t want to do, and what someone else can do much better.
o A mission is a journey. Do you have a map? How do you know it is reliable? Are you prepared for barriers and detours?
o Improve chances for success by selecting the right windows and doors to open.
o Try to learn something of value from everyone and every situation, especially from mistakes and failures.
o Let the world know about your successes, however slight they may seem. Success attracts attention and support.

Here are a few insights from other sources that also caught my eye:

o “Whether you think you can or think you can’t, you’re probably right.” Henry Ford
o “If you can’t explain your great idea to a six-year-old, you really don’t understand it.” Albert Einstein
o “Don’t worry about someone stealing your great idea. If it’s so special, you’ll have to shove it down people’s throats.” Howard Aiken
o “Price is what you charge. Value is what others think it is worth.” Benjamin Graham
o “The early bird may get the worm but the second mouse gets the cheese.” Steven Wright

Research based on the experiences of a few people who launched a startup is usually interesting but only anecdotal. Increase the number to several thousand respondents and invaluable information, insights, and counsel will be generated. My suggestion to those now thinking about launching startup — or who have only recently done so — is to check out several sources, including Mission Possible.

I also highly recommend others such as these:

Why Startups Fail, Eric Ries
Straight Talk for Startups, Randy Komisar and Jantoon Riegersman
Build, Bill Campbell
The Unicorn Within, Linda K. Yates

I conclude with two other suggestions: highlight key passages (I prefer an optic yellow Sharpie) and have a lined notebook near at hand while reading Mission Possible in order to record your comments, questions, and page references (I prefer the Mead “Marble” version). These two simple tactics will help you to facilitate, indeed expedite frequent review of key material later.

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