February 22, 2003
MarkBernstein.org
 

The Startup Garden

The Startup Garden
Tom Ehrenfeld

The book's conceit -- running a startup as a path to personal growth -- is fascinating, and I can certainly agree that running a small business presents important character challenges. There's some good insight here. But much of the book is devoted to the familiar litany of how to write business plans and why cash flow matters, and too little to the book's singular topic. There's no mention, either, of the dark side -- people who lose their way in a startup and wind up alone and friendless, or scarred and embittered, or who embrace dishonesty and deceit. It's not the inevitable, or even the usual, outcome of starting a business, but it happens; it would be good to acknowledge the dangers, and even better to explore how to avoid them. I'd like, too, some thoughts on the small things in the garden; everything in Ehrenfeld is aimed at laying out the flowerbeds and rose trellises, planning the garden paths and the broad vistas. I'd like to hear more about the weeding and hoeing the startup garden -- not as instrumental activities but as ends in themselves.