If you like books with profiles of real-life entrepreneurs who became successful even when the odds seem against them, then you are going to love “The Entrepreneurs: Success and Sacrifice .”
This is a book to inspire and motivate you in your own entrepreneurial journey. Most importantly, it is a book with lessons and insights from real-life entrepreneurs you can apply to your own business.
Authentic and Relevant Entrepreneurial Lessons
The book contains the startup stories of 22 entrepreneurs. Few of them will be a household name to most of us.
But I’ll bet you can find one from an industry similar to yours. Or you’ll find one who has faced a similar challenge to what you’ve faced.
In that sense this book is relevant to the vast majority of the 27 million small business owners in the United States and the millions more around the world.
And that’s exactly why you should read this book. It’s authentic about the entrepreneurial experience most of us face. It’s relevant in a way that a book about a mega-famous entrepreneur billionaire can never be.
One of my disappointments when reading biographies and startup stories of famous entrepreneurs who’ve made it big is that it’s so hard to relate. Don’t get me wrong. I love reading the colorful Richard Branson’s story. I gobble up anything about how Mark Zuckerberg built Facebook.
The stories of the rich and famous may be exciting and interesting, but the lessons to be learned are limited. Their entrepreneurial journeys are just so unlike the experience most entrepreneurs go through! The mega-famous rocketed to the top quickly. They amassed billions in wealth. Many of them had outside investment; however, most entrepreneurs bootstrap and will never have investors or get limited funding from friends, family or a local angel. By the time a book gets written the mega-famous entrepreneur’s business is anything BUT a startup — it’s a huge company, perhaps part of the S&P 500. An inspiring story, yes. A good read, certainly. Relevant with useful learnings? Not so much.
If it’s relevance you want — if you want to draw entrepreneurial lessons to apply to your own business — you’re more likely to get that from The Entrepreneurs.
What’s Inside “The Entrepreneurs”
This is the kind of book you can pick up and read a few chapters in an evening, or on your lunch break. It’s easy to digest. You don’t have to read it cover to cover to get value out of it.
The book is logically laid out into 23 chapters in about 133 pages. Aside from a short introduction and a recap of the “secrets to success” at the end, each chapter tells the story of an entrepreneur. The entrepreneurial stories format is not new nor even necessarily creative.
Time-starved business owners will appreciate a book that doesn’t make you work hard to crack open the content. There’s a “get to the point” simplicity to this book.
And the companies you’ll read about are not the Dells and Microsofts of the world. They are companies like Northcoast Senior Moving. Or Premier Dry Cleaners. Or Vacuum Systems International. Or Steris, or MC sign, or Bowden Manufacturing — the kind of businesses you find on Main Street, USA.
Each entrepreneur tells his or her story, and the author presents it in a straight-forward way. At the end, there’s a lesson or tip distilled down for you. But if you’re like me, you’ll find other insights woven into the narrative of each story. In fact, each story has several lessons.
Take for instance, the story of Scott Marincek, founder of Solv-All :
- Marincek started the business at his parents’ kitchen table, experimenting to come up with environmentally safe cleaning chemicals in the family blender (lesson #1: start on a shoestring)
- He learned about the cleaning chemical business by working in one before launching his own (lesson #2: spot an unmet need).
- He financed his business using credit cards — something many entrepreneurs do, despite it being risky (lesson #3: find seed money and working capital somehow).
- He tried to get a bank loan, but the bank never called him back. So he knew he had to do it on his own. His business plan consisted of selling as much as possible (lesson #4: selling solves many problems).
- His secret to success is in the people he hires, and he tends to do that by gut feel and listening to candidates for their passion, rather than slavishly looking at resumes (lesson #5: a good team is crucial).
- Twenty-some years later, the business has 1,200 employees, and revenues in excess of $100 million annually (lesson #6: don’t give up). Not bad for a bootstrapped business founded at the kitchen table!
And while the stories are all different, most of them are like Marincek’s Solv-All story. Each is filled with struggles and an entrepreneur with a can-do attitude who doesn’t wait for someone to come to the rescue — but does whatever needs to be done.
About the Author
Kip Marlow is himself a successful entrepreneur, who founded a medical instrumentation company and then 22-years later sold it to a larger company.
He founded the Entrepreneurs Club Radio  airing on WELW radio in Ohio (Ray Somich, the station owner, wrote the book’s foreword). The profiles are culled from his radio interviews of each entrepreneur.
Bottom line: you can’t help but be inspired by and learn from The Entrepreneurs . As a business owner who has faced down countless challenges, with successes and failures along the way, the stories “spoke” to me.