What Should Entrepreneurs Read?

In recent times a number of entrepreneurs who started their businesses in late seventies and eighties have begun to reap fortunes for their hard work. This is quite visible from the number of companies that have sold their operations for tremendous valuation, whose operations have been valued dearly by world famous investors and the numerous biographies and autobiographies that are hitting the shelves. Interestingly many young businessmen also seem to look up to biographies for reference and learning. Please don’t think I am against biographies of businessmen. Personally I collect and read this genre as well.

What struck me recently while listening to someone make reference to reading such works , is that there is a fundamental mismatch in what is to be taken and what is being taken from such reads. While every honestly written biography or autobiography is worth reading to understand the story of the individual, in the case of entrepreneurs, this is considered to be equated to lessons about the evolution of the company as well.

In almost every entrepreneur’s case the person and the firm are almost seen as inseparable. The extreme case of this can be Apple and Steve Jobs. Hence when aspiring and young entrepreneurs listen and read these works they receive useful guidance for their personal growth as individuals, which are then mistakenly extrapolated and applied to the ventures as well.  The result of such application does not seem as stunning as what was showcased in the reading.  Disheartened by this, some of them even go to the extent of recommending non-reading of books as a useful tip.

The real gap is that the biographies and success stories do not showcase the growth challenges of the institutions at various stages to the required detail.  They deal more with the entrepreneur’s evolution and not with the challenges, the tribulation, the demands that was experienced and expressed by the venture at hand.

Does this actually suggest that there is lacuna in the available literature about the growth of firms? One would think so. Though there are some works worthy of mention, they are sporadic. However, even these are not consumed by entrepreneurs with a desired level of enthusiasm and interest.

I once again would like to reiterate, this is not to say autobiographies or biographies are to be avoided. As institution builders entrepreneurs must use biographies and autobiographies for personal growth and look up material that is from the business growth perspective for utilization in their journey of enterprise creation.   Hence I reiterate that entrepreneurs must not just stop with reading biographies but must go beyond and pick useful studies on business growth and enterprise creation.

Happy Reading!


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