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Growing a Business Paperback – October 15, 1988
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Kirkus Reviews A standout in an overcrowded field.
Entrepreneur ...a wonderful combination of hardheaded business acumen, plain common sense, humor, and warmth.
San Francisco Chronicle Growing a Business is highly readable....Its ideas on doing business deserve widespread circulation, discussion and recognition.
About the Author
Paul Hawken is an environmentalist, entrepreneur, and author. His books include Growing a Business, The Magic of Findhorn, The Next Economy, and Seven Tomorrows, coauthored with James Ogilvy and Peter Schwartz.
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
There's a part where Mr. Hawken indicates he never hires experts as those experts cannot be trusted to admit mistakes and are generally inflexible precisely because they are brought in as experts has been exactly my observation. That alone was worth the price of this stellar book.
Actually though, you shouldn't read nothing else about business. Read Guy Kawasaki's "The Art of the Start" as well, and, ok, then you're done. Sorry, I digress.
I founded and still run a company that now has 35 employees and market leadership in its segment. I've bought several copies of this book to share with my employees. It's a reminder of core values, and core values are important.
What Hawken does better than other business books is focus on the core values that make a start-up work, not business theory but caring about what you do, building the business by offering value to people and believing in what you do. The simplest example is the story of Ben and Jerry's ice cream, which started out as two guys in a single store who loved ice cream and wanted to share.
A lot of this book is stories of successes, like Ben and Jerry's, with a focus on how and why. It's a very easy read, fun, and valuable.
Hawken focuses on the core: the why of business, more than the how.