Don’t be put off by the subtitle, ‘The Ten Rules of Successful Entrepreneurship’, thinking this is yet another ‘how-to’ guide. Murphy’s book relates the real-life stories of three Harvard business graduates, weaving their experiences into a narrative that reveals the ‘rules’ without reading like a self-help book.
Marc, Chris and Marla are the class of 1998 and each was swept up in the dotcom frenzy of that time. Their businesses adapted to the turbulence that followed and ultimately prospered. Murphy looks at the definition of entrepreneurialism and explores whether entrepreneurship can be taught.
Each of the entrepreneurs is different. Marc stumbles into a successful business career even before he enrols at Harvard. Chris is a military veteran who, while outgoing and confident, isn’t sure that he should be at Harvard. Marla is shy but quietly self-assured; she had a ‘safe’ job as a management consultant before going to Harvard.
The stories of the three entrepreneurs’ businesses provide compelling threads to the narrative. Arguably the most interesting of the trio is Chris; he spots a gap and fills it with a website aimed at bringing together and serving America’s vast community of current and former servicemen. The question is how to make money from it.
Despite Murphy’s best efforts, the art of entrepreneurship continues to defy systematic analysis. But Murphy does comprehensively debunk the myth that success in business is the product of some innate talent. ‘Ideas are a dime a dozen,’ Professor Bill Sahlman tells him. ‘Execution is what is important.’
Business Book Review: How They Started in Tough Times