Jon Burgstone and Bill Murphy Jr.
Farallon Publishing, 2012
You don’t start the next Google by renting a garage and buying a bunch of computers. You start it by becoming obsessed with solving worthy problems, teaming up with the right people, and accessing the right resources.
— Jon Burgstone and Bill Murphy Jr.
Sure, three out of four startups fail, but there are strategies you can learn from seasoned founders that will increase your chances of survival. In Jon Burgstone and Bill Murphy Jr.’s Breakthrough Entrepreneurship, you’ll find out what skills and tools you need to build a business that isn’t only successful, but is also innovative and groundbreaking.
Burgstone, who is founding faculty chair at the Center for Entrepreneurship and Technology at UC Berkeley (and a badass entrepreneur himself), along with business journalist Bill Murphy Jr., presents a framework that will help budding founders get the most out of their journey and build the groundwork to kick butt in the market. Why should you listen to this guy? For starters, he was co-founder and CEO of SupplierMarket, which sold for $1.1 billion in less than a year. Umm, yeeeeah…
Breakthrough Entrepreneurship reverse engineers the wins of a few of today’s most influential and cutting-edge enterprises — Google, PayPal, Facebook and ZipCar, among others — and reveals the smart ways in which they started out. What you’ll find is that starting a new business is an uber scary roller coaster ride with its peaks, lows, twists and loops, but if you keep your eyes open the whole time, you’ll do fine.
My weird metaphors aside, this is an easy, instructive read with practical advice and inspiring anecdotes that will move you to start something awesome. What’s great about this book is its consistent references to real-world, big-picture applications at the end of each chapter. What’s more, Burgstone and Murphy encourage you to think of pressing customer problems that you, personally, are best equipped to solve.
Speaking of the bigger picture, imagine if enough people knew how to start a business, or at least knew how to put an amazing team together and leverage its skill sets — we’d have tons of innovative, game-changing enterprises that would contribute to a thriving economy and an idea-driven society bent on solving the world’s most pressing problems. What up, progress!
Standouts were the sections on idea generation and testing. While reading, you’ll often come across the mantra, get “maximum information for minimum cost,” the process of which is extremely detailed in the book in several anecdotes. Burgstone and Murphy stress that the goal is to move “away from gut feelings and toward as much hard data as possible,” and the sooner you do this the better your chances of hitting that golden idea. Sounds simple enough. The trick is using the right resources to develop your idea into the next killer business.
Got suggestions for other books on entrepreneurship? Share them in the comments!
- Creative Entrepreneurship Does Not Equal Eating Ramen Noodles for Life by Thursday Bram — Sometimes when I tell people I’m a writer, they give me a concerned look and their pity. It’s bothersome how little the arts are valued as a “legit” career, as if a culture can survive without it. In this Forbes article, Thursday Bram explains how it’s possible to build a successful creative business that goes beyond freelancing.
- Young Creative Entrepreneurs: Five Building Blocks for Start-up Success by Momtaz Begum-Hossain — This Guardian article shares five foundational elements you need to start your business intelligently — from understanding your goals, to financing, to networking, and more. Long story short: Research, research, research!