I love reading "How I Did It" books, and I suppose most of you do as well. How else to explain the way such books, written (or, more often, ghostwritten) by successful entrepreneurs, make their way onto the the best-seller lists.
Even though we should know better - and most of us do - it's still fun to glom the advice, anecdotes and encouragement of those who have MADE IT.Americans are a congenitally optimistic lot and Utahns more than most. Maybe, just maybe, we think, some of this guy's genius (or timing, luck, skill, etc.) will rub off and we too can join the ranks of those who have MADE IT.
Thus I was intrigued by "Running Through Walls: A Streetsmart Guide for the Aggressive Entrepreneur," by David Liederman with Alex Taylor III ("with" is today's euphemism for ghostwriter.)
Being a Utahn, by now you probably know by heart the story of Cookie Queen Debbi Fields and the phenomenal rise of Park City-based Mrs. Fields Cookies. Well, New York-based David Liederman is the Cookie King, whose cookie store on Manhattan's East Side grew into a nationwide, multimillion dollar food business. Although he doesn't have stores in Utah, in other parts of the country his David's Cookies is as well known as Mrs. Fields.
The thing is, perhaps like you, I have always had this fantasy about starting a business, hitting it big and retiring early to philanthropy and other good works - preferably on some Hawaiian beach. I know, it's not original, but let's face it, the entire American Dream is a cliche. Wonderful, and never out of fashion, but hackneyed just the same.
As proof, I cite the 250,000 Americans who will start up their own businesses this year (and, sadly, many will shut them down not long after) and the millions more who will fantasize about it.
In his book, Liederman offers some hard-nosed counsel for the dreamers who act on their fantasy.
"A lot of people think that just because they have a wonderful product, the world will beat a path to their door. Not so," he says. "Lots of people with wonderful products never make a dime. The world is full of good ideas. The hard part is the nitty gritty, day-to-day stuff."
In true best-seller style, Lieder-man has a list of rules for success and I will share them here with you, thus sparing you the price of his book if you don't care to pursue it further:
1. Business is adversity.
2. Keep running through walls.
3. Follow your instincts.
4. Don't be afraid to take out the garbage.
5. Keep your twitch factor.
There. Now you have everything you need to become a millionaire and successful entrepreneur like David Liederman . . . Hmmmmmm? You say a little explanation is in order? Read on.
"To be a success in business," says Liederman, "I am convinced that you have to be endlessly aggressive. Every day is a struggle. How do you cope? You have to keep surmounting insurmountable obstacles."
Adversity and the seemingly impossible tasks a small-business owner faces may make it seem as if he or she is literally running through walls just to keep a head above water. That's why, says Liederman, an entrepreneur must love the product and the business, and must strive to keep alive the energy that propelled him or her into business in the first place.
The most successful entrepreneurs, he believes, are those who, at least initially, are involved in every aspect of their business and every aspect of their business is important to them.
"Every day I wake up twitching" (rule No. 5). "My mind is turning over with ideas, problems, people to see, things to do. But I think I need that constant buzzing to stay ahead of the game. It helps me keep my edge."
Liederman says he can't tell you "What They Don't Teach You at Harvard Business School," (an earlier business book best seller). "I didn't go to Harvard Business School . . . or any business school, for that matter. Yet I think I'm as smart or smarter than most MBAs. I have street smarts. I can teach you from real life, which is a whole lot more important."
Running Through Walls: A Streetsmart Guide for the Aggressive Entrepreneur is published by Contemporary Books. Its 27 chapters offer advice on everything from knowing if you've got a good product to negotiating a lease and making a franchise work.