Think Bigger: A book review by Bob Morris

Think Bigger: And 39 Other Winning Strategies from Successful Entrepreneurs
Michael W. Sonnenfeldt
Bloomberg Press (September 2017)

“90% of startups fail: Here’s what you need to know about the other 10%.” Neil Patel

I appropriated the title of Patel’s Forbes article to serve as the title of this brief commentary because it helps to explain why Michael Sonnenfeldt wrote Think Bigger. A Harvard Business School professor, Patel “recently studied 10 years of data on more than 2,000 startups that were so well planned and positioned tbat they received venture capital funding. But even 75 percent of these best picks failed to return their initial capital.”

Sonnenfeldt has learned valuable lessons from Patel and other sources during a 40-year career as an entrepreneur. For example, common wisdom is that the best teacher is experience. “I have found that the best teacher is experience – someone else’s experience. Each and every time, what helped me build multiple businesses (and non-profit organizations, too) was the hard-won advice of other entrepreneurs.”

“This book started when I asked myself a question: What have I learned from my nearly 20 years of intimate connection to some of North America’s most successful and creative entrepreneurs?” Much of the most valuable information, insights, and counsel he has accumulated are provided in this book. He presents 40 “Lessons” within a six-stage process or framework. The subjects range from Self-Assessment to Making It Meaningful. With valuable assistance from Ed Tivnan, Sonnenfeldt conducted dozens of interviews.

It remains for each reader to determine which material is most relevant to their given needs, interests, issues, and concerns. However, it would be a fool’s errand to attempt to apply all of the suggestions and recommendations.

In my opinion, here are three key points that everyone who reads this book should keep in mind:

Always “think bigger” in terms of opportunities but also in terms of the barriers to pursuing those opportunities.

Throughout all business initiatives, be constantly alert for thinking that you know something, that you understand something, when in fact you don’t.

Finally, I agree with Michael Sonnenfeldt that “it’s those dreamers among us who will keep the American dream alive – for all of us” but always remember this observation by Thomas Edison: “Vision without execution is hallucination.”

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