It is sage advice to learn from people who’ve been there and done that, and Derek Lidow, 73, has certainly seen a lot. A practicing professor in his alma mater Princeton University, the brains behind the market research firm iSuppli knows business by heart and has poured his entrepreneurial wisdom latest book, The Entrepreneurs: The Relentless Quest for Value. What can we learn from his latest work?
What’s in the leaves?
The Entrepreneurs is all about entrepreneurship – but expect more than the basic tried-and-true advice. The book explains everything you need to know about starting and running a business, frequently touching on the essential topics of leadership and economics.
It takes you on a journey through the history of entrepreneurship, with expert insights into how it has changed over time and evolved into its modern incarnation. Derek illustrates every concept and topic with interesting examples from legend, history and current events; his stories from the past tie neatly to the current state of the trade and the trends indicating the future where it’s heading.
Five entrepreneurial lessons from the book
The Entrepreneurs offers many lessons drawn from myth and actual events. However, here are five pieces of wisdom that really stand out:
1. Entrepreneurs have to provide value.
The book opens with a colorful description of the equally vivid Qingming Shanghe Tu – a Chinese scroll that depicts day-to-day life in a bustling city from the Song Dynasty. From this, Derek draws the conclusion that entrepreneurs are everywhere and that it is the business owner’s job to provide value that ties the many-hued fabrics of society together. It shows that entrepreneurship is a highly competitive trade, and the only way to stand out in the crowd is to offer real value to as many people as possible.
2. Innovation drives entrepreneurship, and vice versa.
The book looks back at the past, observing that innovative changes in agriculture created surpluses that fuelled entrepreneurial innovation. Likewise, growth in the business sphere drove entrepreneurs to innovate to cater to broader swathes of society. Here, we learn that prospecting entrepreneurs should leverage ongoing trends to create a market. Furthermore, they should strive to streamline existing processes and embrace new technologies to scale up.
3. Entrepreneurs have the power to move entire societies.
Never underestimate entrepreneurship. Derek shows us from historical examples that entrepreneurs can shape society and culture. As such, entrepreneurs have to be responsible with the way they do business and should ensure that they move society closer toward the greater good of all. This brings us to the next point.
4. Know the consequences of unfettered entrepreneurship.
Without any bounds, entrepreneurship can go off the rails and upset economies, creating havoc across various sectors of society, as we have seen many times in the past. As advised in the book, every entrepreneur should understand the consequences of an unmitigated thirst for profit. This lets us quickly see the signs of the effects of entrepreneurship gone haywire and know how we can mitigate the consequences.
5. Build future successes on lessons from the past.
All that said, the book puts some emphasis on learning from the past to succeed in the future. Knowing the impacts of entrepreneurship on daily life – both good and bad – is essential to shaping a business that delivers true value to society. With value comes people looking for it, and with this audience comes prospects of success.
The quest for value never ends
The Entrepreneurs: The Relentless Quest for Value is a biography of entrepreneurship itself. Here, Derek offers fresh perspectives for entrepreneurs, helping them learn how to succeed in the future by learning from the past and the many mistakes that brought the world of business to where it is today.