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The Intelligent Entrepreneur: How Three Harvard Business School Graduates Learned the 10 Rules of Successful Entrepreneurship Hardcover – October 12, 2010

4.4 out of 5 stars 39 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Murphy, author and reporter, coordinates with the Harvard Business School, which teaches that entrepreneurship can be taught and learned. The author tells the stories of three 1998 MBAs who started their own businesses, which became successful in 10 years. With extensive interviews of Harvard professors and alumni, the author showcases these three entrepreneurs because they journeyed relentlessly from launching their businesses, through mistakes and failure, then recovery and achieving success, learning important lessons along the way. Murphy presents his 10 rules of successful entrepreneurship, make the commitment; find a problem, then solve it; think big, think new, think again; you can’t do it alone; you must do it alone; manage risk; learn to lead; learn to sell; persist, persevere, prevail; and play the game for life. This is an excellent, thought-provoking overview of entrepreneurship (also serving as an infomercial for the Harvard Business School and its faculty) that uses actual cases to describe the challenges of starting a business and realizing success. --Mary Whaley


“An excellent, thought-provoking overview of entrepreneurship… that uses actual cases to describe the challenges of starting a business and realizing success.”—Booklist
“An unusual hybrid work of self-help, business and narrative nonfiction… Murphy’s explication of the [ten] rules is detailed and clear…and the narrative chapters are compelling… The degree of cooperation Murphy received from his subjects—as well as their classmates, professors, business partners and employees—is astounding and greatly enriches the book.”--Kirkus Reviews
“Bill Murphy’s book captures the reality of entrepreneurial endeavors by detailing how three graduates of HBS found opportunity, acquired the resources they needed, and committed heart and soul to their venture.  Entrepreneurship is messy, an emotional and financial rollercoaster.  This book serves as an invaluable guide to those who might follow in the footsteps of these remarkable young entrepreneurs.”--William Sahlman, Professor, Harvard Business School
The Intelligent Entrepreneur is full of invaluable advice, and it highlights the ways that thoughtful people actually go about learning the ideas and developing skills required to be successful entrepreneurs.  Bill Murphy’s book shows that entrepreneurs who take an informed and intelligent approach to launching new companies can vastly improve their chances of ultimate success.”--Joseph Lassiter, Professor, Harvard Business School 

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.; First Edition, 1st Printing edition (October 12, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0805091661
  • ISBN-13: 978-0805091663
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.3 x 9.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (39 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,310,785 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Bill Murphy does an interesting job of following three success stories in entrepreneurship and coming away with 10 important takeaways, using specific examples and illustrations. However, there are two BIG caveats that aspiring entrepreneurs need to be aware of when reading this book. First, these businesses were all started in a positive economic climate when VC capital was amply available. Second, the entrepreneurs all came out of Harvard Business School, which they not only were admitted to but could afford (we're talking north of $100K). While Murphy underlines that he did not want to choose people who came from wealth, being a Harvard MBA carries a lot of weight with investors and also offers fantastic highly paying 'plan b' employment opportunities (e.g. investment banking, consulting) as well as a fantastic network of faculty and successful students.

If you're not a Harvard MBA, and/or aren't living in times of ample capital, these stories will not give you a truly accurate picture of the gravity of the risk that most entrepreneurs face going out on their own. You're probably not going to be in the same situation as Marla who had an offer from McKinsey to come back and take a six figure salary if her business failed, or Marc who could have easily gotten a job in a VC firm or i-bank without any problems (and who also had started another business prior to getting his MBA). You'd be better off reading some rags to riches stories if you really want to get a sense of the character it takes to get out there and take chances. That said, reading this book you'll be in a position to judge where the privileged background was value added and where it was not. You'll also get a little insight into Harvard business school which may be of interest for those either in b-school or aspiring to go.
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Format: Hardcover
Bill Murphy's work is a terrific narrative weaving in between three entrepreneurs (Chris, Marc, and Marla) and their respective companies. All three had graduated from Harvard Business School in the late 1990s then worked in the San Francisco Bay Area during the waning dot-com era. All three resisted Wall Street temptations and wanted to run their own show. Readers will enjoy the agonizing decision-making points along the journeys that the entrepreneurs made and they will appreciate Murphy's 10 rules. I certainly did. Having a big idea is really just the beginning. Actually executing it to a successful exit is the true test. It doesn't hurt to have access to capital and the Harvard connection. One of the three entrepreneurs has sold two companies while netting close to $30 million, while the other two are still growing their ventures to close to $100 million in annual sales. They have truly succeeded when many failed. We can all learn from them.
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Format: Hardcover
Book review by Richard L. Weaver II, Ph.D.

Harvard Business School (HBS) teaches its business classes by having students read, analyze, and discuss case studies. Bill Murphy is a Harvard graduate, and the reason you need to know this before diving into this book, is that basically, it is three extensive and well-described case studies (of Marla Malcolm Beck, Chris Michel, and Marc Cenedella) tied together with their experiences and how they demonstrate (sometimes purposefully and at other times accidentally) the ten rules of successful entrepreneurship:

1. Make the commitment.

2. Find a problem, then solve it.

3. Think big, think new, think again.

4. You can't do it alone.

5. You must do it alone.

6. Manage risk.

7. Learn to lead.

8. Learn to sell.

9. Persist, persevere, prevail.

10. Play the game for life.

In each case, you get a beautifully presented explanation of the real life challenges and triumphs of the three entrepreneurs in the eleven odd-numbered chapters, and in the even-numbered chapters, you get Murphy's key rules of entrepreneurial success that Marla, Chris, and Marc learned along the way (p. 7). It's an interesting format, but it works well.

Once you meet Marla, Chris, and Marc in Chapter 1 and hear their stories (which sets the stage for the entire book), you will not just become interested in how their lives work out, but their stories, too, will captivate you, and you will quickly become absorbed in this well-written, interesting, and enlightening book.
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Format: Hardcover
If you like long storytelling, this is the book for you. From writing b-school application essays to review job opportunities after b-school, you will know everything about about these entrepreneurs' experiences.

If you are looking for an insights-packed book (in the spirit of the dense and insightful Harvard Business Review articles) this is definitely not a book for you. At least not the first 4-6 chapters.

You can tell that this book was not written by a business leader. The book's product description mentions that it was "Based on dozens of interviews with highly successful entrepreneurs, Harvard Business School professors" but this is a misleading statement. This book is not about distilling best practices learned from entrepreneurs and professors. It's about detailed stories about 3 entrepreneurs' experiences. There are very good ideas in this book but you have to sort through long stories to find them.

If you have already been in business school, or if you already have business and entrepreneurship experience, you will probably end up scanning quickly through most of the content. You've heard most of these stories already in one way or another. This book is a better fit for people who are simply looking for an entertaining "airplane" read and interesting stories about entrepreneurship and business school. The book does get interesting and becomes more focused after a few chapters. Towards the middle/end of the book, the author starts to highlight key success factors in entrepreneurship and does a good job at using these 3 students' stories to illustrate his points.

One point that I would like to highlight is the excessive amount of promotion for the Harvard Business School.
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