Book Review: The Entrepreneurial Leap by Gino Wickman
This book is for you if:
- You want to find out whether you have what it takes to become an entrepreneur
- You want to learn what it really looks like to be an entrepreneur (the two sides of the coin)
- You are looking for a blueprint to get started
The core message of The Entrepreneurial Leap is this: entrepreneurship is a long-term game, and it is not for everyone. You either have the six essential traits of an entrepreneur in your genetic makeup (DNA) or you do not. It is that simple, at least on the surface. In other words, you do not become an entrepreneur, you are one — reality check: you currently may be ignorant of that fact!
Part one of the book is dedicated to helping you assess whether you are an entrepreneur-in-the- making. In part two Wickman paints a contrasting picture of what entrepreneurship can end up being: a dream come true or a nightmare. Finally, part three offers the blueprint to help you start off your entrepreneurial journey on the right foot.
But what is an Entrepreneur anyway?
In Wickman’s own words,
an Entrepreneur is someone who sees a need or an opportunity and takes the risk to start a business to fulfill or remedy that need or opportunity by creating something or improving upon an existing product or service.
The three keywords to remember here are opportunity (or need), risk and business.
I am a freelancer/self-employed: am I an entrepreneur according to the foregoing definition? Wickman talks about an entrepreneurial range that goes from self-employed (lower end) to true entrepreneur (upper end). The book is written with the breed of entrepreneurs in the upper end scale in mind.
Now that you know the essence of the book, let’s flesh out some of the main takeaways:
Age is irrelevant. You can start your entrepreneurial journey at almost any stage of your life if you have the six essential traits of an entrepreneur outlined next. You must be:
- Problem solver
- Risk taker
If you are lacking anyone of the preceding traits, partnering up with someone who has the missing skills can be the best alternative you have (think co-founders!).
Covers three key insights:
1. Where to start?
Wickman provides some help. Think industry, type of business and size.
Start with picking an industry (health, financial services, education, etc.). Within the chosen industry identify a type of business. Consider whether you want to go in the business of producing something (a product) or offering a service. Determine whether it is going to be a B2B (business to business) or B2C (business to consumer) model. Decide whether you will focus on products/services with high end, i.e. high price/low volume or low cost, i.e. low price/high volume. Finally, the size: do you want to build a million- or billion-dollars business?
2. What does entrepreneurship look like?
It can be living a dream or living a nightmare. You can hedge your bets by avoiding the eight most common mistakes entrepreneurs make. These are:
- Not having a vision
- Not hiring great employees
- Not spending time with employees
- Not knowing who the customer is
- Not charging customers enough (pricing)
- Not staying true to the business’ core
- Not knowing the business’ numbers
- Not crystallizing roles & responsibilities
3. Real-life entrepreneurial stories of famous and less so successful entrepreneurs such as Steve Jobs (Apple), Walt Disney (Disney), Jeff Bezos (Amazon) and more to give you perspectives, inspiration, and insights.
Unveils the path to entrepreneurship and covers how to discover your passion, find, and work with a mentor, take the leap, and build your business.
Acknowledge that those who play (or have played) the game at a higher-level than you value their time. Thus, you may and in fact should expect to get NOs from potential mentors you’ll reach out to. When you find one that fits, apply the knowledge and wisdom you get and let the mentor know that you have done so — remember to say thank you. Apprenticeship and internship can be alternatives to formal mentoring. Use all options.
There is no such thing as an overnight success. Apply ten-year thinking and be prepared for the long haul — in fact, the Latin roots of the word ‘passion’ means suffering revealed the author. Whilst the book does not cover how to raise funding, it reported quoting smallbiztrends.com that
86% of startups do not start with outside capital, and
77% of founders rely entirely on personal resources for initial funding.
Apply the disciplines and stages outlined below to increase your odds to success and build your business.
The eight disciplines to increase your odds of success:
- Clarify and document your vision
- Decide if you are a partner person
- Know that the bigger the problem you solve, the more successful you’ll be
- Get feedback from customers asap
- Have a plan B (pivot if necessary)
- Work hard, really hard!
- Take criticism and doubt with a grain of salt
- See it every night (visualize)
The nine stages to building a business:
- Generating cash (you have no business without cash flow)
- Hire an integrator (i.e. someone to run the day-to-day business, e.g. COO)
- Discover the core values of your company
- Hold yourself accountable (know and track your numbers)
- Communicate frequently with employees (weekly, quarterly, 101 on demand, give feedback, say thank you)
- Have a plan B, C, and D
- Stay in your personal sweet spot (i.e. delegate)
- Prevent the business from getting away from you (i.e. stay focused)
- Capitalizing on coaching, training, mentoring
If you’ve read or heard about the books ‘Traction’ and ‘The Entrepreneurial Operating System (EOS)’, then you should know who Gino Wickman is. He authored the first, co-authored the second and more.
Dubbed ‘A practical guide to helping companies achieve greatness’, The EOS is reportedly used by over 100k companies around the world.
Wickman is also a true entrepreneur who has been there and done it. He turned around a family business he took over at the age of 25, ran it for seven years before selling it.
My top 5 quotes from the book:
1. It takes 20 years to become an overnight success - Eddie Cantor
2. Where the needs of the world and your talents cross, there lies your vocation - Aristotle
3. The most money is made by transforming other people’s bad news into good news - Joe Polish
4. You have to balance having a vision with reacting to luck, opportunities and challenges - Clayton Christensen
5. That which is measured improves. That which is measured and reported improves exponentially - Karl Pearson
My take on the book
First off, let me admit that I seldom ‘read’ books. Instead, I listen to them, and so it was with this one.
That said, E-Leap is written in a simple and easy to understand style.
The book is engaging and provides actionable steps to anyone contemplating making the leap. And even if you’re already on the other side, the book could still be relevant to you. To say the least, the author is an established authority in the space of entrepreneurship, building/running companies and more.
Though the book makes a great (good) deal in raising red flags to prevent the reader from blindly jumping into entrepreneurship, I fear it somewhat comes across as another chant of the controversial ‘follow your passion’ mantra.
Lastly, I felt small doses of cross-selling through nudges inviting the reader to visit other works done by the author (books, websites, etc.) - but hey, in today’s world that’s quite the norm. It is up to you to take what you need and filter out anything you deem noisy.
Finally, what’s your take on the above review, on E-Leap if you have also read it? Share your thoughts using the Response button underneath the story, and stay tuned; I’ll soon write reviews of other books I’ve read that reinforce, complement or oppose the ideas put forward in E-Leap.