Everyone loves to read other peoples success stories. It provides us with evidence that amazing things do happen to normal people. By learning what they did to succeed we come one step closer to success ourselves. Such is the case with the ten stories told in Net Entrepreneurs Only – 10 Entrepreneurs Tell the Stories of their Success by Gregory K. Ericksen and Ernst & Young.
Ericksen interviewed ten of the most successful entrepreneurs at the turn of the century and presents their stories with a unique but effective use of lengthy quotes from the entrepreneurs. The quotes leave you with a feeling of having actually interviewed the entrepreneur yourself rather than reading a story about them. Each story is about 20 pages long but reads more like 10 pages because of the big print and free flowing pace.
The 10 entrepreneurs chronicled in the book are Jay S. Walker (priceline.com), Mike McNulty and Mike Hagan (VerticalNet), Christina Jones (pcOrder), William Porter and Christos Cotsakos (E*Trade), Gregory K. Jones (uBid), Russell Horowitz (Go2Net), Ken Pasterna (Knight/Trimark), William Schrader (PSINet), Pierre Omidyar (eBay), and Mark Cuban and Todd Wagner (broadcast.com).
Each entrepreneur has a unique story of how and why they saw the internet as a viable place to start a business, and each had a different way of getting there, but after reading all ten stories you can see some common threads between these extremely successful net entrepreneurs. Although this book was written at a time when internet business success was substantially easier (the book was published in 2000), many of the core competencies that these entrepreneurs possess can be applied in any era to any industry.
Each is extremely passionate about what they do to the point that they inspire others around them to have the same passion. Each is not afraid to take a risk, regardless of whether or not other people disagree with it. Along with that, each knows that failure is inevitable when taking risks and understands that future success depends on the ability to learn from failure and move on.
Another interesting thing that was mentioned in three of the ten stories is the fear of being blindsided by an opponent that they can’t see coming. They all talk about the proverbial kid in his basement or garage that comes up with the technology that puts them out of business. When talking about Mark Cuban, Todd Wagner said:
“I know Mark worries, among other things, about the proverbial 12-year-old in the garage [coming up with technological breakthroughs] and us being blindsided.”
This commonality is particularly interesting, and I suspect it comes from the fact that many of these entrepreneurs WERE THAT KID and they fear the second coming of themselves more than anything else. They probably fear that this “kid” will have the same passion and determination that they once had, and that, more than anything else scares them.
If I had read this book when it was written I would certainly have recommended it to any young entrepreneur. However, years later I recommend it EVEN MORE. I think that it’s a must read for anyone looking to go into business or currently in business.
The thing that you can do now that you couldn’t do when the book was written is find out what’s happened to these entrepreneurs and their companies in the time that has passed since the book’s publication. One of the biggest joys of reading this book was trying to guess whether or not these companies still existed and whether or not the same entrepreneur was still running them.
Knowing that there was the dot-com boom and subsequent crash around that time, I figured there was less than a 50/50 chance that these businesses were still around. I’m not going to ruin the individual surprises, but there was a fairly vast array of directions that these companies and entrepreneurs went after the dot-com crash.
Some of the entrepreneurs we’ve all heard of (Mark Cuban), and some of the companies we know still exist and are very successful (eBay), but many the average reader won’t be familiar with. Doing the research to find out where they are today adds an extra dimension to the book that a reader wouldn’t have experienced if they read it when it came out.
Net Entrepreneurs Only – 10 Entrepreneurs Tell the Stories of their Success by Gregory K. Ericksen and Ernst & Young is an extremely interesting for anyone who enjoys a good success story. However, it’s truly inspiring if you are that entrepreneur who strives come up with the next innovating breakthrough that puts one of these ten entrepreneurs out of business.