A serial entrepreneur shares her personal successes and failures in an introspective debut.
Fitzsimmons isn’t negative about startups. After all, she managed to launch six firms herself, five of which are still in business, including her current virtual-reality venture, Custom Reality Services. But two main themes of her book are that being an entrepreneur “is a struggle against reality” and that “failure is synonymous with iteration”—concepts that will test the mettle of even the most optimistic dreamer. That said, Fitzsimmons’ “field guide” is steeped in personal insights, many of which show how she forged success out of failure, and she supplements these with stories of other entrepreneurs who overcame adversity. Unlike typical how-to business books, this manual concentrates almost exclusively on developing the self, as evidenced by such chapter titles as “Self-Awareness,” “Sighting Your Summit,” “Self-Belief,” and “Focus.” Indeed, there’s a very personal slant to the book, overall; Fitzsimmons offers numerous accounts of her family, her health problems, and business setbacks. But there’s also a clear sense of growth and progress as the author upliftingly notes how all of her experiences helped to strengthen her along the way. Fitzsimmons’ self-analysis is engaging, but so too is her authoritative counsel as well as her well-designed self-help exercises. The author also shares useful tools, such as “The Relationship Matrix” and “The Decision Matrix,” to help readers navigate entrepreneurial waters. Her perspective should be invaluable to novice entrepreneurs who may not fully understand the challenges that lie ahead of them. A chapter on seeking funding is compelling, if not surprising; Fitzsimmons makes it clear that she’s not a fan of venture capital for most startups. A unique aspect of the book is the author’s emphasis on confronting self-imposed conditions, such as “entrenchment”: “when our startup is draining our life force, it is easy to entrench and think that persevering is our only option.”
A poignant and potent self-help business book.