What I’m reading now – How They Started in Tough Times

How They Started in Tough Times, by David Lester, reviewed by Ciaron Dunne, co-founder of internet marketing business Genie Ventures.

This book is a timely account of how others have gone about tackling the challenges and opportunities presented by a hard economic climate.

Refreshingly, it doesn’t just concentrate on fashionable internet ventures but goes back to proper household names such as Disney and Penguin to demonstrate that all start-ups, particularly when organically funded, face incredibly tough times in the early days.

For example, one of the first films that Walt Disney worked on went out of business. With no income to pay salaries, employees started to quit and he ended up as the only member of the company.

But it’s these challenges that force the business owners to make decisions that shape the company and really lay the foundations for success. What also comes through in the book is that, in many ways, a downturn can provide excellent conditions for starting up a business: cheaper labour, property and material costs, plus increased competition between potential suppliers and employees, to name a few. Similarly, tough times can create a market need for certain types of business.

LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman, for example, started just after the dotcom bubble burst. He reasoned that in that climate there would be less competition and therefore more chance that his venture would be able to achieve its goals.

It’s difficult to overstate the importance, as a business owner, of occasionally taking a step back to compare your company to those that have been there and done it, and that’s exactly what this book allows you to do.

Business Book Review: Leading in Times of Crisis

Nick Britton

Lexus Ernser

Nick was the Managing Editor for growthbusiness.co.uk when it was owned by Vitesse Media, before moving on to become Head of Investment Group and Editor at What Investment and thence to Head of Intermediary...

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