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Issue 6.4


Book: The Illusions of Entrepreneurship

Issue: 6.4 (May/June 2008)
Author: Dave Mancuso
Article Description: No description available.
Article Length (in bytes): 4,250
Starting Page Number: 10
Article Number: 6406
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Full text of article...

I'd first heard of The Illusions of Entrepreneurship through Guy Kawasaki's weblog, How to Change the World (http://blog.guykawasaki.com). Guy related his experience with a quiz on myths of entrepreneurship and offered the quiz to his readers. Anyone who scored low on the quiz, he said, should probably buy the book. It looked like a good resource for an entrepreneur starting a business, so I ordered it.

I read the book in a day. Dr. Shane discusses a number of myths regarding entrepreneurs. For instance, most businesses are started by white men in their forties, not young wunderkinds in their twenties. Most businesses aren't started in a garage, and many use debt to finance their startup costs (typically $25,000). Most successful businesses are started by people who already work in their chosen field, but see a better way to make a product (or a way to do it alone instead of working for someone else's company).

Essentially, the book says that successful entrepreneurs work from what they know, from their strengths, and in a field they're familiar with. They don't go into debt for their business unless they have to, but debt can help keep their business going in tough times. The book discusses why more minorities and women don't go into business, but that's about it. For a person starting a business, the book's advice seems like fairly mundane common sense.

It seems like the book is touted as a resource for someone looking to start a business, but it reads more like a report on a research study. Shane is a good writer; he makes his material interesting, but it's not a resource for anyone looking to start a business. Frankly, the book is really of value to public policy makers, not business owners themselves. Public small business administration agencies should use the book to help target their assistance programs. Ultimately, I wouldn't recommend that you go out to buy this book yourself. It won't give you any insights you can't easily get somewhere else.

In fact, I could easily recommend many other resources for entrepreneurs, beginning with the Macintosh Small Business (MacSB) Yahoo Groups mailing list (http://tech.groups.yahoo.com/group/macsb/) and Joel On Software's Business of Software (http://discuss.joelonsoftware.com/default.asp?biz). Gus Mueller (notably his 1068 days post at http://www.gusmueller.com/blog/archives/2005/12/25.html) and Escape from Cubicle Nation (http://www.escapefromcubiclenation.com) are good resources too, as are people on the REALbasic NUG mailing list and the REALbasic forums. Fellow RB developers who are in business for themselves are great to talk to (like Paul Lefebvre, for instance who recently made the final move to full self-employment). Your time will be much better spent with these resources than trying to use this book. It's well written if you're interested in general entrepreneurship information, but it's not for entrepreneurs themselves.

End of article.