Fool Born Every Minute – So You Want To Be An Entrepreneur (Inc. Column)

I’ve been contributing a column at Inc. Magazine devoted to the topic of de-mystifying angels and the early-stage investing process.  A recent piece was a list of key books every would-be and new entrepreneur should read.

booksFool Born Every Minute (So You Think You Want to Be An Entrepreneur?)

Could you be an entrepreneur? A start-to-finish reading list for entrepreneurs and people who think they want to be.

Entrepreneurship has come a long way toward being a better-understood and accessible way of life. But it will never be completely mainstream, because it’s not for everyone. Consider the temperament and skills required. Entrepreneurs need a broad skillset and, equally important, a high degree of awareness about their weaknesses. It’s a lonely, difficult, risky, frustrating, and sometimes scary path to choose.

Do you have what it takes? To help you figure that out, I’ve assembled a list of critical reading every would-be entrepreneur should digest. The list is not comprehensive–I have purposely tried to make it as short as possible. This core set of thoughtful materials will help immensely with decision making about your path and execution of it, if you decide to pursue it.

What’s It Like? What Does It Take?

The first question to resolve is whether you have it in you. Heart, Smarts, Guts, and Luck by Zappos founder Tony Hsieh (et al) is a very readable exploration of the psychology and temperament of the successful entrepreneur. A good resource for understanding the massive scope of skills necessary is the simply titled Entrepreneurship by William D. Bygrave and Andrew Zacharakis. This book will give you a nuts-and-bolts overview of virtually all aspects of the process (and will serve as a useful desk reference later). If 90 percent of the material in Entrepreneurship seems uninteresting or overwhelming, it’s time to write a résumé.

There Is No I in Team

It has been said that all startup problems are people problems…

[Surf over to Inc. Magazine to finish the story.]

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What Publishers Just Don’t Get: Why Zite Wins

Publishers will never be able to establish successful mobile platforms. The Zite model of customized content will win. Why? Because publishers think editing means curating their own proprietary content. In the days of the printing press, limited square inches on the broadsheets, slower news cycles and information scarcity rather than information overload, they might have been right. But today, editing means [Read more…]

Where the Puck is Going

Vinod Khosla, one of the founders of Sun Microsystems, a long time partner at Kleiner Perkins, and a principal in well-respected Khosla Ventures, just published a great piece in TechCrunch on the “unhyped” new areas in Internet and mobile that interest him.  These are the areas he expects to produce the next batch of great opportunities and start-ups.  It is well worth a read, but here are the twelve areas he identifies:  [Read more…]

The Future Of Publishing – The Book is Dead; Long Live the Book

Is the traditional publishing model dead?

I’ve touched on this topic before (for example,  Amazon becoming a publisher; Amazon really stepping up publication efforts; ebook growth; blogcasting), but three recent events bring it back to the forefront. First was a conversation with someone at a TCN panel talk I gave last week who had just self-published her own book, second was a conversation with a friend who had just published a book with a traditional publisher and third was an interesting piece just published by Matthew Ingram at GigaOM about the value of publishers.

At the panel last week I was discussing intellectual property issues in the start-up context, and one of the participants was focused on IP questions around a book she had just published. The questions were straight-forward, but what was interesting was that when asked who her publisher was, she said that she had self-published.

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Netflix – Again

The Netflix topic is like the gift that keeps on giving.  Last month I was working on a post with three take-away lessons from their summer price change fiasco.  In the middle of drafting that post, Update One to that post became necessary – Netflix said they were sorry for handling it so badly, and now they were splitting into two companies.

So much chatter ensued as a result of that move by Netflix that I put out Update Two about some of the reasons which may have been behind it.

Update Three noted that none other than Roger Ebert had weighed in on the topic.  And Update Four posted a great Saturday Night Live skit on the subject.  A skit I should point out, that now looks hopelessly out of date.

Which brings me to Update Five:…

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Amazon Ups the Ante On Publishers Again

Back in August, I noted that Amazon was stepping up its nascent publishing efforts to allow authors to sell directly to its customers without going through a traditional publishing house.   Yesterday’s New York Times points out in an article entitled Amazon Signs Up Authors, Writing Publishers Out of Deal, that Amazon is dramatically accelerating its efforts.  Should be interesting to watch.  Below are a few key pull-outs from the article:

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Netflix: 3 Lessons From the Pricing Fiasco [UPDATED]

It is by now fairly well known that Netflix had a little bit of a boo-boo recently in switching its pricing plans to force people to pay separately for physical DVDs and streaming.  Customers left the service in droves.  They tried to distract/counteract with an announcement about launching in Latin America, but to no avail.  More customers left than expected, they had to revise their guidance downward and they took a beating on NASDAQ.

Now, I like Netflix very much, and I don’t want to pick on them unfairly – according to their records, I have been a loyal customer since May of 2000, which is a lot of years for those keeping score at home.  But we cannot pass up this chance to purse our lips, grab our chins and shake our heads sagely.  Lest this excellent case study go to waste, let’s ponder what we can learn from this.  Three primary lessons leap to mind:

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Amazon Moves Up the Food Chain

I guess this is the week for partner conflict.  With Samsung, and HTC still reeling from Google’s announcement that they are getting into the mobile phone manufacturing business (discussion here), Amazon has now announced it is stepping up its nascent publishing efforts and going to war with the traditional publishers who have feed its business for so long.  Amazon has signed on to be the direct publisher of Timothy Ferriss, author famous for his series of “4 Hour” titles. The NYT had a great article on this and my four favorite quotes are set out below.

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Vizibility – An Obvious And Useful Idea

Nice write-up on Vizibility in Business Insider recently.  Vizibility is a cool company founded by James Alexander which provides a very useful service.  It allows you to easily build the perfect search of yourself to pull up the best and most relevant items, remove duplicates and irrelevant hits, and promote the key stories you want to highlight.  It then gives you ability to capture that perfect search as a “search me” button, link and QR code that you can use online and offline in email signatures, business cards, blogs, web profiles and the like.

I’ve been a user of the service since before I first invested and have found it very handy in personal use – I’ve even got my QR code on my business card.  But what it is interesting is the power this gives professionals who live and die by their professional identity, not to mention the flexibility it gives to the marketing professionals who try to manage them.

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eBooks: Accelerating at an Accelerating Rate

I was struck by the recent news release by Amazon about the Kindle over-taking all other book formats combined.  So I indulged my curiosity and here’s what I found.  The world, my friends, is changing very quickly….

[Read more…]