Straight Talk for Startups: A book review by Bob Morris

Straight Talk for Startups: 100 Insider Rules for Beating the Odds–From Mastering the Fundamentals to Selecting Investors, Fundraising, Managing Boards, and Achieving Liquidity
Randy Komisar and Jantoon Riegersman
HarperBusiness/An imprint of HarperCollins (2018)

Probably the best single source for the most valuable “dos” and “don’ts”

First of all, Randy Komisar and Jantoon Riegersman offer what are characterized as “rules” but are in fact guidelines they have learned from wide and deep prior experience with startups. They ask: “Have you ever felt like everyone else knows something they just aren’t telling you? That no matter how close you get to the surce of money, talent, and wisdom, you can’t quite get through the door? The ability to help entrepreneurs accelerate past this stage is the Silicon Advantage.It’s not the big things; it’s the little things — the wealth of experience, the tricks f the trade, the wisdom shared by the winners but somehow just out of reach of the contenders.

“That is why we wrote this book.”

Over the years I have read and reviewed several dozen books that provide an abundance of useful information, insights, and counsel to those preparing to launch or had recently launched a new company. I think Komisar and Riegersman’s book is probably the best single source for the most valuable “dos” and “don’ts” to keep in mind. Most of the 100 guidelines really do qualify as “straight talk.” There are fundamentals of entrepreneurship to be mastered, of course. Also, all manner of issues to be addressed when completing preparations to obtain funds, recruit people, select products, create demand for them, and meanwhile achieve liquidity. Komisar and Riegersman share the secrets and rules-of-thumb they’ve gleaned from decades of being on both sides of the table — “originally as entrepreneurs looking for advice and more recently as mentors trying to cut through the confusions on behalf of those who seek clarity.” What they offer is a playbook for successful entrepreneurship.

Long ago, Richard Branson explained that an entrepreneur “is someone who jumps off a cliff and builds a plane on the way down.” Most never get the plane built and, like Wile E. Coyote, end up in a puff of dust on the canyon floor.

Some of the best advice is provided in the chapter devoted to Rule 100: “Learn the rules by heart so you know when to break them.” As already indicated, I view the 100 as a set of street-smart guidelines or “rules-of-thumb”– as Randy Komisar and Jantoon Riegersman describe them — that can help those who read the book to make better decisions. There is also the Cardinal Rule: “WHY? Why this? Why you? Why now?”

I have no idea how many readers will learn these rules by heart but, short of that, I think it is imperative to review them at least once a month (if not every week). I also think all of this book should be read, and then re-read every year (if not every quarter) to refresh impact while strengthening retention.

Why so often? That’s a good question. Ann Landers (Eppie Lederer) provides the best answer: “If you think education is expensive, try ignorance.”

Straight Talk for Startups [colon] 100 Insider Rules for Beating the Odds–From Mastering the Fundamentals to Selecting Investors [comma] Fundraising [comma] Managing Boards [comma] and Achieving Liquidity, 
Randy Komisar, Jantoon Riegersman, HarperBusiness [slash] An imprint of HarperCollins, Probably the best single source for the most valuable “dos” and “don’ts”

 

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