Read Great from the Start and Build a Better Business

Great from the StartAs I crack open the freshly minted review copy of Great from the Start: The Quintessential Silicon Valley Guide in Building a Successful Company from its InceptionI have to say that I’m overwhelmed by the sheer amount of content that’s contained in the approximately 250 pages of text.

Great from the Start is a book that’s targeted at startups.  But when I consider that there are roughly 28 million small businesses in the United States in which over 80% have sales of a million dollars or less and are founded by people with a vision or a passion for making a difference in the world – I find myself wondering how many of them would take the time to read what’s contained between these covers and implement any of it.  But that’s just me.

This is an extremely well laid out and thoughtful book.  I might go so far as to say that it’s a virtual handbook on creating and starting a successful business from start to success.  The author, John Montgomery has taken his entire professional career of working with startups and condensed it into this useful book.

Great from the Start is a blueprint for turning your idea into a successful company.  You can read this book from start to finish, or you can turn to any of the chapters that you feel will be most useful to you.

Another interesting aspect of this book is that it’s also a workbook with exercises to help you convert your ideas from pie-in-the-sky thoughts into clear and concise action plans.  At the end of each chapter, you’ll find a summary of key points and collaborative exercises that you can practice with your team in working and planning together.

I really like the way Montgomery has interwoven expert advice from business owners who have been through the process inside of each chapter and section.  That’s how you know that the content came from the real world and is supplemented by any intellectual or academic theory or philosophy – instead of the other way around.

Here are some of the topics covered in the book:

  • Have a compelling vision and build value for your company
  • A winning business model and well-written business plan are crucial
  • Avoid ‘Founder Disease:’ The one-man-band and the Me-Do-It syndrome
  • Cultivate a conscience for the company
  • Designing the company’s culture: The Seven Rules of Engagement
  • Flawless execution: Learn to love the part you hate
  • Listen to your customers: Find the “We” solution

About the Author

John Montgomery is a busy guy.  He’s a corporate attorney, entrepreneur, executive coach and writer.  He’s the founder of Montgomery and Hansen, a Silicon Valley based corporate law firm, he’s also founded Startworks, a technology incubator.  In addition to several other accomplishments, he’s a student of non-dual philosophical systems, neuroscience developmental theory and organizational development.

What’s Great in Great from the Start

It might be an over-statement to say that Great from the Start is the only book you’ll ever want to read if you’re going through a startup – but I don’t think I’m too far off.  This is about as comprehensive a book you’re going to read that doesn’t come in volumes.

This is also a book that goes beyond the startup.  After all, startups aren’t just companies, they can be business units or product teams.  These days every company is going through some type of startup in one way or another.  And those kinds of organizations can really benefit from this book.

What To Look Out For

As you might imagine, when confronted with so much information inside a compact package, you can expect to be overwhelmed by it all.  That is one thing that I see that could turn you off.  It might help if you eat this elephant one bite at a time and treat each section or chapter as a book in and of itself.

This is a book that is squarely aimed at business owners, general managers and entrepreneurs.  Montgomery recommends, and I concur, that it’s a good idea to have your whole team read this book and use it as a guide as you go about the business of building and growing your business.


Ivana Taylor Ivana Taylor is the Book Editor for Small Business Trends. She is responsible for directing the site’s book review program and manages the team of professional book reviewers. She also spearheads the annual Small Business Book Awards. Ivana publishes DIYMarketers, where she shares daily do-it-yourself marketing tips, and is co-author of "Excel for Marketing Managers."

2 Reactions
  1. “A winning business model and well-written business plan are crucial.” I SO believe in this as well. Some people just jump into a business opportunity without even planning! 🙁

  2. Ivana: This book sounds like a perfect read for my new business venture! 😉