Book Review: Startup Playbook by David S. Kidders

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What is it about?

The Startup Playbook is composed of 41 entrepreneurs who’ve made their mark and their money on this treacherous path of starting and running a business. Entrepreneurs such as Chris Anderson of Ted Talks, Reid Hoffman of LinkedIn and Elon Musk of PayPal, Tesla and SpaceX.  Its a playbook because not only does it have the stories of these successes but it also has the advice that they consider critical for startups.


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What do I like about it?

The advice that is given usually revolves around the same issues for all 41 entrepreneurs – leadership, culture, firing, marketing, raising capital, talent etc. The consistency in topics allows for very different views to be held by different entrepreneurs. One entrepreneur may advise that you get funded as soon as possible while another will advise that you bootstrap your business, one may advise that you avoid hiring people with MBAs and another may say you should use your instincts over qualifications. It reinforces how, even though there is value in the advice, each one must take their own path and there isn’t a “one-size fits all” formula for success. Once you’re a successful entrepreneur you’ll have your own playbook.

Its also something of a textbook, after reading it the first time in the early stage of your startup, you’ll probably refer to it from time to time when you’re facing a workplace dispute, marketing or sales problem and you don’t know how to go about it.

What I don’t like about it?

Even though the advice is delivered in a way that addresses consistent aspects of any business (hiring, firing, human resources etc), I wonder how relevant it all is for entrepreneurs in Africa. Lets just say we had an African version of the Startup Playbook, it may be advise entrepreneurs on how to grow a business despite poor infrastructure, most reliable avenues to get funding, tips on how to win in the informal sector and dealing with our skills shortage – problems that are familiar to African entrepreneurs.

Should an entrepreneur read it?

Yes, I think an entrepreneur should read it but only once the business it operational, making money and growing. Its relevant to growing SMEs because they would start experiencing changes in different aspects and advice from the book would help in that regard.


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