It seems like everyone wants to be an entrepreneur these days — founding the next big technology startup which makes the big time. And there’s a plethora of books and resources which try to lay out all the steps so that anyone can follow them to fame and fortune. But the reality is that every business is different, not only in their products and industry, but also in the team of employees and the vision of how the company should be run. Cynthia Kocialski has been involved in more than 24 startups over the past 15 years, all of which have been acquired for almost $20 billion. In her book, Startup from the Ground Up: Practical Insights for Transforming an Idea into a Business, Cynthia fully realizes that there isn’t some golden set of rules that anyone can follow to be successful, but she does provide tips and information that can be used by any business to help develop their own path.
Being an entrepreneur and creating a small self-sustaining business, is vastly different than building a startup that will eventually have to provide returns to investors. Cynthia focuses on startups, with information on different types of funding, what information needs to be provided to investors, and the entire process of creating a product to provide a return on the investment. Every business is different, but there is some basic information that investors want to see. Cynthia sets out what information should be included in different types of documents, including investor presentations, customer presentations and the business plan. This doesn’t mean that the book isn’t helpful for any entrepreneur, but the focus is definitely on startups which will eventually have an exit strategy.
Pros: Real world tips and detailed instructions which can be applied to any business to help from everything from product development to creating a business plan to presenting to investors. This book is full of good information that can make any businesses growth just a little less rocky and certainly more organized and thoughtful.
Cons: Cynthia’s experience is in building startups which eventually have an exit strategy. She’s used to building companies relatively quickly in order to provide return on investment. While she does talk about bootstrapping and other funding methods (which may actually be more effective for many entrepreneurs), they are not the focus of this book. Cynthia also has a slightly negative view of most marketing in that it’s very structured and non-creative (which it can be, but it doesn’t have to be).
UPDATE: I was given a pre-release copy of the book (but didn’t realize it), and I’ve been told that all the editing errors have been fixed in the published copy, so no worries on the editing in any copy you purchase.
There are also several places with fairly large editing problems, including The Prologue. If I had judged the book only on The Prologue, I would have demanded my money back. While there aren’t any spelling errors, there are missing words and a slew of grammar issues. And there’s a chapter which ends mid-sentence. Hopefully these problems can be fixed in a future edition because they put a damper on an otherwise very useful book.
Conclusion: Despite the focus on startups with an exit strategy, Startup from the Ground Up is an extremely useful book for any entrepreneur. One of my measures of books is how many pages I dog-ear and how many notes I take, and this book was full of both. I highly recommend this book to any type of entrepreneur.
What are your thoughts if you’ve read the book?
NOTE: All links above to Amazon are affiliate links. I was sent a free copy of the book and asked if I would review it. As with any review I do, this is my honest opinion. If you feel differently after reading this book, please share your thoughts in the comments. Thank you for reading!