SWEAT EQUITY: What It Really Takes to Build America's Best Small Companies by the Guys Who Did It by Geoffrey N. & Paul B. Brown Smith

SWEAT EQUITY: What It Really Takes to Build America's Best Small Companies by the Guys Who Did It

Email this review


A principal virtue of this breezy, often saucy, survey of the risks and rewards of enterprise is the abundance of fresh case studies. A major drawback is its failure to provide prospective proprietors more than anecdotal generalities on what's involved in getting and keeping a fledgling firm off the ground. At the outset, Smith, the originator of Forbes magazine's ""Up & Comers"" section, and his former colleague Brown present a simple model of the life cycle of emergent growth companies. The four overlapping elements--idea, marketing, management, and the encore--provide the framework for their text. Instead of relying on twice-told tales about the likes of Ray Kroc (McDonald's) or Fred Smith (Federal Express), however, the authors take full advantage of their professional access to introduce a wholly new cast of characters. The Smith/Brown roster of 30-odd entrepreneurs whose mainly low-tech ventures capitalized on opportunities of various sorts includes the husband/wife team that launched Pawprints greeting cards, the publisher of Inc. magazine, the hard-living inventor of the Nautilus machine, the sometime real-estate developer who founded Kinder-Care Learning Centers, and the creator of Tofutti (confected initially to sidestep Jewish dietary strictures). There are horror as well as success stories, e.g., the overnight demise of Rival Manufacturing's Crock Pot line and Wells Gardner's misadventures in the video games trade. Here too, though, the short-take briefings scant nuts-and-bolts detail. In fact, the reporting talents of Messrs. Smith and Brown far outdistance their appetite--or perhaps capacity--for systematic analysis. Overall, then, an entertaining rundown on who's who among entrepreneurial newcomers that falls well short of providing definitive guidance.

Pub Date: July 1st, 1986
Publisher: Simon & Schuster