On a scale between Re-Read, Read, Skim, Cliff notes, and Doorstop, this book is a solid Re-Read.
Most business books are full of useless platitudes, “work hard, hire A players, etc.” This book is jam-packed with practical advice on how to build a successful startup. It includes a lot of hard truths that founders need to hear, along the lines of ReWork and Hard Thing About Hard Things. This book focuses on unscalable acts (Giving extra TLC to customers, walking the thin line between building a long-term product roadmap and incorporating feature requests from customers, etc.) that small companies can use as an unfair advantage against their rivals.
It also lays out a great blueprint from booking your first sale to what to do after you close your first sale, which most business books don’t talk about. Many business books are product-driven (Build it and the customer will appear) but leave sales as an afterthought. Having a great product is one thing, but you are toast if you don’t have the proper distribution and sales strategy. Hence, some folks dismiss certain popular products as too simple and easily cloneable, but what they are missing is how incredibly tough it is to scale the sales model for the product, and that’s where most of the genius comes from. If you are building a SaaS company or are running one, I highly suggest you read this book, and if you are building a traditional business, you should still read this book.
Thoughts on editing and layout:
The book is absolutely gorgeous. The pages are full of helpful images and custom artwork. The editing is perfect, the book is succinct and to the point, and you can finish it in maybe 3-4 hours.
My favorite pages:
6: Time is your most valuable asset. Nothing happens until the first sale. Keep the main thing, your main thing.
28: What makes a winning product
60: Don’t change a horse midstream
73: In defense of bootstrapping
74: Don’t forget your angel investors
84-91: From the first sale to what to do after closing a sale
112: How to prioritize
118: Shedding yourself and evolving with the company
120: How to measure the stakes
138: How to maintain your long term roadmap and balance customer demands
140-141: Keeping your execs close to the customers
148-149: Every company has one near-death experience
154: Knowing when to pivot when your company is struggling
Free Excerpts From The Book:
From the cofounder of a $40 billion software company comes an invaluable guide packed with $1 trillion worth of advice from some of the world’s most successful and recognizable entrepreneurs.
Over the past 20 years, first as an early employee at Salesforce and later as a cofounder of Okta (a publicly traded software company now valued at over $40 billion), Frederic Kerrest has met the most successful entrepreneurs and investors in Silicon Valley and beyond. He’s discussed every angle of entrepreneurship with them―what works, what doesn’t, and what to do when things get rough―and he’s taken notes. The result is this unmatched blueprint for building and growing a business, drawn from his own experience as well as that of his fellow visionaries and business leaders, who have collectively built over $1 trillion worth of wealth for themselves and their investors. They include Marc Andreessen and Ben Horowitz (Andreessen Horowitz), Eric Yuan (Zoom), Stewart Butterfield (Slack), Aneel Bhusri (Workday), Julia Hartz (Eventbrite), Aaron Levie (Box), Fred Luddy (ServiceNow), Melanie Perkins (Canva), Patty McCord (Netflix), Sebastian Thrun (Udacity), and dozens of other luminaries.
These ideas and practices aren’t taught in business schools. They’ve been learned the hard way, through trial and error in the real world of business. Kerrest has battle-tested them himself, so he knows their power. Organized by topic in roughly the order that leaders will encounter them as they scale their businesses, this book is the ultimate guide to taking a company all the way from founding to IPO―and beyond.