Best Book Ever Written for Entrepreneurs

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I have previously blogged about “The Art of the Start” (by Guy Kawasaki) being essential reading for all entrepreneurs. In fact, I won’t mentor anyone who hasn’t read this book.

But I have three friends (including two veteran entrepreneurs) who tell me that “The Entrepreneur’s Manual” written by Richard White in 1977 is the best book ever written for entrepreneurs. Steve Gibson gave me a copy recently and I admit it is fascinating. It contains advice I’ve never seen anywhere before. (You can find several copies on Alibris.com)

For example, it suggests that you form a team of founders in the following way: Hold a 2-day interactive event where you bring 3-5 possible founders for each key management position together (at a hotel for example). The founding founder introduces the business concept over breakfast. Then everyone gets to introduce themselves and then interview each other. After everyone knows each other, you divide into teams and start creating departmental business plans. On day two there are group presentations. The final step is that all the candidates get to cast a secret ballot about who they think the founders should be and what positions they should fill. White claims that “the strongest and best qualified [candidates] almost always win the top positions by a landslide.”

Each founder keeps his/her full-time job and works about 16 hours per week in the startup until it is funded adequately.

White and his consulting associates often invited venture capitalists to these 2-day retreats, so that they could see the founding team being formed. Apparently, the VCs usually invested in the companies.

If this manual is so good, and if Richard White and his consulting associates really helped hundreds of successful Silicon Valley startups, and if these tactics really work, then why is the book out of print and why can’t I learn anything about White from Google or High Beam or Amazon’s “search within a book?” I guess I’ll have to try Google Scholar.

If anyone knows anything about Richard M. White, Jr. and his team of consultants and what Silicon Valley startups they backed and how or why this team seems to have disappeared off the map, please let me know. I may contact Chilton Publishing for reprint rights (this book should at least be available in PDF format) unless someone else wants to do that. The book is in serious need of a 2nd edition. The 45 pages that list VC firms (from 1977) just isn’t very useful anymore. But the concepts are powerful and should work.

I’m eager to try building a founding team for my next startup in this fashion.

[Update: I just searched Google Scholar and found only 1 citation to the Entrepreneur’s Manual in all the academic literature. Not too promising.]

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10 Responses

  1. Sorry you can’t find anything on that–but I will comment that every book Steve Gibson ever gave me has been incredible… especially The eMyth. Sounds like this one is no different. Good luck!

  2. Hi Paul,

    I agree that this is probably the very best book written for entrepreneurs. Im a serial entrepreneur in Portland, Oregon (you and I know quite a few of the same people: David McInnis, Judd Bagley, Rich Christiansen to name a few).

    I’ve been teaching out of this and using it in coaching for two decades now. An amazing piece of literature.

    I started both the process of trying to get rights to the book and trying to find Richard M. White Jr., but to no avail.

    Recently a new book was recommended to me (I have yet to open the cover). Called The Black Swan, it comes highly recommended by an associate who is also a multipreneur: http://www.amazon.com/Black-Swan-Impact-Highly-Improbable/dp/1400063515

    His company is http://www.Floort.com (he is also the cofounder of http://www.learning.net and http://www.presenternet.com, among others).

    This Richard M White thing leads me to believe…

    1) As a successful consultant, this was a pseudonym, used to pretect the sanctity of his consulting business.

    2) It was a ghostwritten piece.

    3) it was an out and out lie… but that doesn’t seem possible… though I have known consultants who had WAY more theory than practical, in-the-trenches experience.

    I’ll keep digging… in the mean time, I am about to write the next phase of this book. Thanks to the web, bootstrapping has become much more plausible… and creating multiple iterations and demo versions of your software can happen in weeks, rather than years.

    Thanks for the time, Paul.

    Warm regards and great success in ’08,
    Mark Alan Effinger

  3. John Mellor

    Paul, I was probably the first person to call Richard in San Jose when the book was published. Apparently it had been released early in Chicago. I told him what we were doing and said I was thinking of going to the First West Coast Computer Fair in San Francisco. He agreed to meet me. I subsequently spent a few very long nights, had dinner with him and his wife Joan, and spent countless hours on the phone with him.
    He was real, and the personality that came through in the book is what you got with the man.
    I have goggled the references he listed in the appendix, to no avail. I was in his offices on more than one occasion; it’s puzzling that you haven’t found anything.
    I know that he died of cancer but I don’t know any details.
    Regards John Mellor

  4. wilson ng

    Hi Paul,

    Since you mentioned Steve Gibson, I also have the privilege of meeting him when he comes to the Philippines, where he is funding an Entrepreneurial Academy which I know you have written sometime before in your blog, the ACE- Academy for Creating enterprise.

    I was a closing speaker there last year, and they gifted me with a book, E-Myth Revisited by Michael Gerber. For people aspiring to own their own small business ( which may not necessarily be the one VCs are interested on), I think it is an excellent book.

    All the best,

  5. Christopher A. Steele

    Owned and read “Entrepreneur’s Manual” years ago and remember it as an outstanding book. Lent it to a ‘friend,’ and never got it back: one of my worst mistakes ever.

  6. I had the privilege of being personally coached by Richard M. White, Jr. in the 1980s and I can tell you that he was true in his teachings as he was in his book. I got to sit in his hotel room for 3 straight days having my head opened up and having it poured full of so much knowledge it took me weeks just to absorb what he taught me. To this day, I still remember things that pop up in situations during a project that he told me 30 years ago that I have totally forgotten. It was a true blessing and he was a great man.

  7. João Fructuoso Figueiredo Filho

    How teacher of Entrepreneurship I use this manual and I agree cent per cent with the positive comentary about the content of this worderful work.

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