I’ve definitely slowed up on reading business books, but Young Guns: The Fearless Entrepreneur’s Guide to Chasing Your Dreams and Breaking Out on Your Own by Robert Tuchman really caught my eye because it was geared towards young entrepreneurs. I breezed my way through it in about two nights, which is often the sign of a good book (I’m not afraid to put a book down that sucks and never pick it up again…why waste your time right?).
I think there are two types of books you should read before diving in to starting a business: at least one general business “how to” book that talks about the legalities of running a business, choosing partners, etc and sort of acts as a checklist of things to do so that you don’t miss anything important, and at least one “mental” book that attempts to prepare you for the grind ahead. Barry Moltz’s books are perfect examples, and so is this one.
Tuchman (who graduated college in 1993 and is roughly 37) , is the founder and president of Premiere Corporate Events, a company that provides premium sports related corporate outings (such as trips to the Super Bowl or athlete appearances). He started his company in 1996, only a few years after college, which is something I can certainly relate to.
By all measures he’s had a ton of success, but that doesn’t mean that it was always easy. He does a great job of telling it like it is. He tells the story of how a ticket broker broke contract on Super Bowl tickets just days before the event and cost his company $300,000 to ensure his clients all still got tickets, all that they had in the bank at the time. Which leads me to my favorite part of the book about your “gut check moment”. Tuchman writes:
I don’t know anything about you. I don’t know anything about your business idea. And I don’t know anything about the customers you are trying to reach. But I definitely know this: There will be a “gut-check moment” early on in the life of your business, and if you don’t know why you are doing what you are doing, you will make the wrong move and you will miss out on an opportunity.
The real point at which you start your company doesn’t happen when you give it a name or sign some legal papers. The real moment comes when you know why your business is worth taking a “punch to the gut” for – and you act on that knowledge.
When I think back, I’ve had several “gut check moments”. About 10 months after quitting my job, when iPrioritize and SportsLizard were growing but not making any money and I had to decide whether to get a job or not, I decided not to because I believed in my ability to build a successful business. In early 2008 when we moved into the warehouse and launched Tastefully Driven all within a few months, we had to take no salary for a few months to fund the expansion. During those same months, we also fired our accountant just before taxes were due, had our server crash during our peak season, and cut a major revenue stream when we stopped doing client work.
But it’s all worth it if you believe in yourself and what you’re doing. I never had a doubt in my mind that our team couldn’t get to where we are today. At times, I wondered why things had to be so hard, but over time you come to realize that it’s hard for everyone starting a business and that anyone who tells you otherwise is full of shit.
There are plenty of other great topics covered in the book: why it’s an advantage to be single when starting your business, why it’s important that your business helps others, why all you need is a one page business plan, why you should fund your start-up yourself, and many more.
Should you read this book? If you’re considering starting a business, this book will make you think about whether or not this is a career path you want to take. There’s no fluff in here, nor does he embellish his points – from my experiences everything he talks about is true. Personally, I’ve already settled into being a business owner. It’s a very normal thing to me because it’s what I do. This book really re-energized me and made me remember just how cool it is to start your own company and just how lucky my partners and I are.
(Oh, and also, it doesn’t hurt your credibility either to have endorsements from Clyde Fraizer, Bill Walton, and freaking Mike Eruzione on the back cover!)