Growing a Business
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82 of 83 people found the following review helpful
on November 2, 2002
I read this book and watched the TV series around 1990. I credit Growing a Business, as much as anything I ever read or heard, for the success of my company today.
In 1992 a group of first-time entrepreneurs started a company together. Some of the group had a blueprint of how a company is supposed to start. Get capital. Build something. Launch it. Succeed. They had not read the book, or they had but did not believe it spoke to us.
Some of the group had a more organic idea, inspired in part by this book. Each company has its pace, its flow, its learning curve. The CEO is the clock, the pacer, the navigator. There is a constant calculator going on each decision, each day, extrapolating payoffs, comparing the costs and benefits. And there is a recognition of what we are going into business for and structuring the business to support those objectives.
For example, we wanted a great place for employees. Each employee would share the experience and benefits. The "Startup 101" types of books treat this topic as an add-on after you do all the important things. Hawken makes it primary. It is primary if you want a place for the best people to do their best work. Structure your company around the employee experience and all else falls into place - if that is the kind of company you want.
An important lesson from this book is serious initial capital for inexperienced entrepeneurs can be a mistake. Hawken describes this. So important. So easy to overlook.
Large amounts of startup capital allows you to outsource parts of a company you may not totally understand yet. It makes some mistakes very expensive. It dulls the creativity at times, the innovation to do more with less. It might encourage one to do things just because you see other companies doing them. It tempts you to make large steps, when it is critical in modern markets to learn to make many smaller steps.
And so on. This book may not fit every entrepreneur. It certainly does not provide all the information you need for growing a company. But for some of us it describes a pattern for growing a good company.
If you are thinking about starting a company, or are in the early stages of a startup, I recommend this book. It might change how you do things, and you might get more satisfaction from the adventure as a result.
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28 of 28 people found the following review helpful
on October 25, 1998
I started my business in 1988 and no advice I received was a valuable at Paul Hawken's. He helps you to see a business from 10,000 feet as well as from just inches below the surface: in your heart, where ultimately your business must succeed.
I recommend this book to everyone, but have ceased lending my copy out-two have disappeared. Today, my business is an enormous success-indeed, a somewhat famous one-and no one deserves more credit than Mr. Hawken, for the advice and inspiration of this lucid and engaging book.
To every small business owner: buy it today, read tonight, and see if it doesn't change things immediately.
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
on April 2, 2002
The reason I like this book is because it does not follow popular style "10 ways to get rich" or "how to make business in 5 minutes". It is focused on individuality and it recognizes that every business is different, the same way we are. It does not give you a recipe on how to grow business, because lets face it, there is no recipe. If it was easy everybody would be doing it. However, it does give you a sound advice that makes sense. I think that lots of small business owners are thinking the same way and it is nice to read that somebody experienced same kind of problems and faced similar obstacles as well as how they approached the problem. It is great book that simply makes sense...
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on May 25, 2006
This book is not the standard run of the mill business book. It's almost a cross between a philosophy and a history, but written in a light/easy to read way. Most books on business tend to be detailed, technical, or boring--this book tells business as if it were a story. (Which it is)

Very few business books are written in this style and by doing so he captures some of the feelings and passion of business along with a few strategic concepts. Business comes from the heart as well as the head and I appreciate the way this book combines both aspects.

On the other hand, I had some reservation giving 5 stars. While he extensively chronicles his own business--there are few/no references to other businesses and/or collaborating evidence. Still, I would recommend this book to any budding businessperson--but I'd also recommend reading from other authors (I recommend Peter Drucker) to gain a wider perspective.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on April 22, 1999
A very insightful book from the man who understands business. I read this book in one sitting and boy it is a better one compared to the many business books that I've read. Hawkin really knows how to run a business. What's intriguing about Hawkin is that he started business from ground zero without any prior business education. He succeeded because of his leadership, persistence, and most importantly, a willingness to learn. It is a good read for anyone who wants to go into business or desires to grow a business. Suggested reading: Creativity in Business by Michael Ray
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on December 22, 1999
This is a wonderful, even perfect, book (as much as any book or work of art can be perfect). It is smoothly written and loaded with uncommon, common sense which unmasks many conventional business "truisms." Take this for example: "Research into small business has shown that most fail because of a lack of working capital. But that's like saying the cause of most divorces is conflict." By focusing on the inner business, Hawken helps any business person create an enterprise that is ideally suited to its owner. It's smart capitalism with a human face. If this sounds appealing, also consider The Mindful Money Guide. It's not about establishing a business per se (although it does have a whole section on finding truly satisfying work), but it will complement Hawken's book well, by thoughtfully (and amusingly) addressing one's whole financial life.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on August 6, 2000
When I started my business with $20,000 in 1996, I stumbled upon this book. It helped me form the core values of my company and to build it with only a one year loan of $40,000 (in year 2, repaid in year 3) to $3M in sales, 20 employees and strong profitability in 4 years (and we are not even a tech company!). If you want to grow fast, this is not necessarily the book for you. If you want to build value and profitability - read it, know it, live it.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on May 13, 2004
I just sold my company and, looking back over the ten years it took to build, this book was the BEST resource and touchston I had. I bought a copy for each new employee. And each one loved it. Written in a non-MBA tenor, this book is for everyone. I only wish the accompanying PBS sereis was still around because it was a fantanstic companion to the book.
Ten years after starting, I can honestly say, Mr. Hawkin was right. And thankfully, I made my money the RIGHT way. No regrets.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on December 11, 2008
"Growing a Business" is pretty old, from 1988, so there is no mention of the Internet, little about software, and nothing at all about startups. In fact, I was struck when the author mentioned the computer for the company. Not a, but the.

Even so, the book is a must-read for anyone who actually wants to build a business that makes money, contributes to society, and does something useful. Hawken doesn't go into a ton of specifics about finding an idea or market, but here are some examples of thoughts you'll find in the book:

* Address problems that money alone cannot solve.
* Money goes where it causes the least embarrassment.
* Focus on a niche instead of developing a new market.

Also discussed are building a good culture, focusing on customers, funding, and lots of other great insights. The lack of technology talk produces a list of business lessons and people skills necessary for those who want to create a business instead of just raising funding or boosting egos.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on August 11, 2014
I read this book in about 1992, when my "new" business was only about 3 years old. Things weren't going that great. I wanted something more and I was doubting my abilities to get it. This book gave me the courage, the encouragement and the focus to begin doing more things correctly.

In the years since, my company has earned millions. I've given jobs to a lot of people. I've changed the lives of many millions because of the nature of our work. And I've mentored a lot of beginning entrepreneurs - some who go on to thrive.

A man called me today, applying for a job that is so far beneath his IQ it was sad. "The economy's tough," he said rejectedly. I suggested something else for him. And then, I told him to read this book. I'd nearly forgotten its influence on me so long ago. Amazon didn't even exist when I first read this book! If you're starting a business or struggling to grow one, just read this book. Let it seep into your soul and inspire you. You'll be glad you did.
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