The Ultimate Start-Up Guide Explains What Not to Do to Succeed


You want a start-up that survives the critical early phase and "The Ultimate Start-Up Guide: Marketing Lessons, War Stories, and Hard-Won Advice from Leading Venture Capitalists and Angel Investors" can help you get there. Written by two experts and consultants who have seen it all in the start-up scene, this book guides readers through those critical first steps to launch and away from those traps that leave many start-ups doomed to fail.

The Ultimate Start-Up Guide: What Not to Do to Succeed

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The Ultimate Start-Up Guide: Marketing Lessons, War Stories, and Hard-Won Advice from Leading Venture Capitalists and Angel Investors isn’t a collection of feel-good stories about business owners who launched a startup in less than a week. Instead, it is a collection of start-up war stories, written from the perspective of the marketers, venture capitalists and investors who were in on some pretty chaotic business launches — ones where things didn’t always go as planned.

In short, The Ultimate Start-Up Guide is a guide to how startups can succeed by studying how most startups fail.

What is The Ultimate Start-Up Guide About?

The Ultimate Start-Up Guide is slightly different than other startup books you might be used to. Instead of overly positive platitudes, the book offers some sobering realities. As an example, a reader need only read the first sentence in the book:

“Nine out of 10 start-ups fail within their first 24 months of operation.”

The authors don’t present this information (and the other sad statistics that you probably won’t find emphasized in other startup books) to scare people out of launching a startup. They present the information to give potential and current start-up owners a realistic idea of the startup world and to provide them a realistic solution for beating the odds.

The Ultimate Start-Up Guide suggests that prospective startup owners beat the odds by understanding where other startups went wrong. It does this by starting (Chapter 3) and ending the book (Chapter 21) with discussions on the common mistakes that start-ups make, from burning cash to lack of product or service market fit. These failures are common because many startup owners feel like the exception. They become a victim of their own hype when reality hits. Instead of being different, they find out their business is like every other startup.

Startups must break free of the mentality of believing thy are somehow different in order to survive. A detached and strategic approach, the one presented in The Ultimate Start-Up Guide, helps readers navigate around typical problems. Focusing on where your startup fits into the reality of the market rather than trying to make the market fit your expectations, will give you a better chance of surviving the roller coaster ride ahead.

Authors Tom Hogan and Carol Broadbent are the owners of Crowded Ocean, a marketing agency that assists startups in the early phases of their launch. Hogan and Broadbent started Crowded Ocean after years of working in marketing at the C-suite level in businesses such as Sun Microsystems and Oracle. They established their business in 2008 and, using the same principles discussed in the book, managed to pivot their company through the ups and downs of a post-recession and a highly competitive economy.

What Was Best About The Ultimate Start-Up Guide?

The Ultimate Start-Up Guide is a book that gets down into the trenches to provide the basic answers for anyone seeking to launch a start-up. Questions include: How much funding should I seek? What kind of marketing tools should I use to spread the word? Do I even have a good startup idea?

While it certainly can’t replace a trusted advisor, the book does a great job of helping prospective startup entrepreneurs identify traps and create an initial plan for navigating around them. As mentioned throughout this review, this focus on sharing startup “war stories” is unique in the field of startup advice.

What Could Have Been Done Differently?

Although the book is over 200+ pages long, the chapters in The Ultimate Start-Up Guide are actually quite short, even on topics that require substantial depth such as startup and marketing. For readers who just want a quick, specific answer to a question about startups, this might work fine. In the case of those who are looking for a more in-depth discussion, this book can serve as a starting point, but not an ultimate resource. It does provide a suggested reading list in several chapters, however.

Why Read The Ultimate Start-Up Guide?

Why should a small business owner read about start-ups in The Ultimate Start-Up Guide? All businesses, start-up or not, face the same challenges of fitting their product or service to the market while dealing with funding, team management and money management issues. The Ultimate Start-Up Guide provides a simple road map for any business that wants to launch quickly on a shoestring budget. While not every chapter will apply (for example, the chapter on venture capitalists), the book offers advice that can be used from a small business perspective for working with influential stakeholders in your business.

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Charles Franklin Charles Franklin is a Book Reviewer for Small Business Trends. He has a background as a professional reviewer, and is also a content provider and customer relations professional.