October 25, 2014

Raising Eyebrows: A Failed Entrepreneur Finally Gets it Right

Raising Eyebrows: A Failed Entrepreneur Finally Gets it RightIf you’re tired of business books that promise to teach you how to make millions from social media, take a break with Raising Eyebrows:  A Failed Entrepreneur Finally Gets It Right.  Author Dal LaMagna, founder of Tweezerman, uses his own tales of failed entrepreneurship to illustrate learning points. It’s a great read.

This Book Isn’t a Magic Bullet

There’s no magic list of ways to make money in this book. Rather, there are true tales of how LaMagna failed at selling ice cream, running a restaurant and even running for president of the United States. The stories are amusing, and halfway through the book you’ll wonder, How is this idiot going to teach me anything about entrepreneurship? But the secret I’ve learned is that you can often learn more from people’s business mistakes than from what they got right.

In the first half of the book, LaMagna yearns to be a film producer. He tries his hardest and never really gets there. But then he finds his destiny elsewhere (how many of us can relate to that?) in the tweezer industry. I’ll let you read the story of how he got into that business; let me just say he was naked and occupied when the idea came to light.

Lessons Learned

Here are a few of the nuggets of truth LaMagna shares that struck a chord with me:

Being a partner is somewhat similar to marriage. It requires a  generous, intimate trust. I’d absolutely agree with this, and I’ve had experiences with partners that prove it to be true. LaMagna learns the hard way when some of his partnerships fail and he loses friends over businesses.

LaMagna spends a great deal of time trying to raise enough money to get started in the tweezer business when someone asks him, “Instead of spending your time raising money, why don’t you go find something you can do with the money you already have?” I think this is poignant because a lot of entrepreneurs wait until they have “enough” money to get started, and as a result, never actually start. Start small, and reinvest profits back into the company to grow.

And my favorite: A small company is not going to thrive if the founder tries to do everything. I write a lot about delegating, so this stuck with me. As long as you, the owner, try to take on every role that is required, the company cannot grow. There are only so many hours in a day, and you can only juggle so much. Delegate tasks and free yourself to do the things you’re really good at, like running your business.

Why Read It

You have to know by now there’s no magic formula to make your business a success. What worked (or didn’t) for LaMagna may not apply to your business. But witnessing another entrepreneur’s journey (and seeing how long it was might make you feel better about your own path) will give you courage to continue on your own way.

9 Comments ▼

Susan Payton - Awards Communication Mgr.


Susan Payton Susan Payton is the Communications Manager for the Small Business Trends Awards programs. She is the President of Egg Marketing & Communications, an Internet marketing firm specializing in content marketing, social media management and press releases. She is also the Founder of How to Create a Press Release, a free resource for business owners who want to generate their own PR.

9 Reactions

  1. Learning to delegate is definitely a major milestone in any entrepreneur’s journey.

    Two books that teaches how to delegate correctly are E-Myth and “Work the System” where they basically suggest to write down clear procedures for everything you do in your business, things you do today (to systemize what you do and to keep improving) and things you delegate or might delegate (to make it easy to delegate).

  2. Susan,

    I think the book will be a refreshing read. I have material for a book someday… ;)

    I am now following the author’s Twitter profile and I checked out his website. Here is my message to the author:

    To Dal LaMagna: I am a radical capitalist (based on a rational philosophy) and I would say that is the same as to be a “responsible capitalist”! I am not a political activist. I am an intellectual activist.

  3. The problem I have found with most books is that they all give the same information which is normally vague at best. They tell you to do something, but give no clear path as to how to actually do it. I am going to actually buy this book since I like to see people whose business experiences are similar to my own.

  4. Susan,

    Just the few nuggets that you shared really made me want to read this book. I am definately putting this on my to read list.

    Really liked your point about people waiting to get their money before starting a business. With the internet there is more opportunity than ever to start a brand, and become a successful entrepreneur.

  5. Ed Raby,

    I found the book “Start Small Stay Small” to give very good actionable tips.

  6. (Sorry, my comment was for BiznessZoom)

  7. Hi Susan,

    Seems like an interesting read, I completely agree that one can learn more from the mistakes of others than understanding what people got right because that gives us an excellent opportunity to see what mistake to avoid while on our path to success. Will definitely give this a read. Thanks for sharing!

    Riya Sam

  8. You guys are really adding to my “to read” list! Thanks for that!

    @BiznessZoom–I’m the same way. I read a lot and I’m just not impressed. The covers promise much, but the books underdeliver. I loved the story component to this book.

  9. It’s better that talking about business can also be mixed with more personal language. Insights (and humor, if there is) ring more true, and experiences are more absorbed by the reader. I haven’t seen this one, but the way you put it promises much. Thank you for giving a small preview!

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