A serial entrepreneur reveals the skills and thrills behind building a successful start-up.
Struhl’s energetic first book encourages would-be entrepreneurs to seize opportunity and enter into the world of start-ups. Each chapter centers on one theme of advice, such as how to vet a new concept or take on industry giants, with Struhl providing examples from his own companies or those of his friends. Throughout the book, the stories of these businesses are specific, interesting and often amusing—as when the author regales his brash yet successful move to partner with Hewlett-Packard, Microsoft and Apple to distribute specialty paper samples. Struhl portrays himself as a “high powered” businessman and his aggressive style will likely pump up readers. However, there are places in the book where the tone verges on elitist, such as the anecdote about a colleague who starts a private jet service with support from Warren Buffett. In other instances, the author’s exceptional networking makes his success seem far out of reach for fledgling business owners; through his colleagues, Struhl meets the visionary behind the candy store in FAO Schwarz and he gets a call as soon as a particular poster company he admired goes up for sale. Halfway through the book, the reader begins to feel as if everything will keep falling into place, but then the author does something admirable: He describes struggles and expensive failures. Prospective investors change terms at the last minute. An initial public offering goes awry. A partner abandons a business deal, resulting in the loss of millions of dollars in legal fees. Despite the flops that would terrify a new entrepreneur, Struhl forges on with enthusiasm, reminding readers that failures happen—but the opportunity for success can be worth the risk.
Through more than a dozen illustrative examples looking at challenges overcome by founders of Hotels.com, Spanx and others, Struhl infuses readers with optimism that they too can launch a successful start-up.