I just finished reading a concise, useful new book, The Founder’s Manual: A Guidebook for Becoming a Successful Entrepreneur, by Ryan Frederick. I found it to be an excellent resource not only for entrepreneurs but also for anyone who works in innovation or marketing new products. And anyone even thinking about starting a company would find the book enormously helpful as well.
The book first caught my eye because of the word “flow” in the graphic on the cover (see above). It illustrates how the three elements of starting a company – Founder Flow, Startup Flow and Product Flow – need to come together in order for an entrepreneurial team to make their startup a success.
Finding “Flow” as an Entrepreneur
Years ago, I read FLOW: The Psychology of Optimal Experience by the psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. That book made a deep impression on me. And it inspired Ryan to write his book. Csikszentmihalyi defines “flow” as the feeling that athletes, writers and artists describe while immersed in doing their craft, when time seems to disappear. In his TED talk, Csikszentmihalyi notes that money cannot make us happy. Lasting happiness comes from pursuing activities and interests that bring us into a state of “flow.”
Ryan’s book takes that concept and applies it to the entrepreneur’s journey. In the three sections of the book, Ryan outlines how founders can achieve “flow” during the oftentimes frantic and overwhelming process of starting a company and launching new products:
- Founder Flow: Do you have what it takes to be a Founder? Ryan describes the combination of skills, personality, and discipline that are common to successful Founders. He describes how founders can prepare themselves as individuals and leaders so that their teams can achieve optimal performance.
- Start-Up Flow: Do you have a winning idea? The key to a successful start-up is solving a high-value problem that customers care about and will pay for at a level that provides the business outcomes desired by the product owner.
- Product Flow: Ryan describes how founding teams can achieve “flow” during the development process to build successful products.
Personal Guidebook for Entrepreneurs
Many other books on entrepreneurship take a tactical approach to starting a company. As an example, I like the “Business Model Canvas” that accompanied the book Business Model Generation: A Handbook for Visionaries, Game Changers, and Challenge. The Canvas enables entrepreneurs to define each element of their startups and how the parts fit together, including: partners, activities, value propositions, customer segments, sales channels, revenue streams plus a few others.
In contrast, Ryan’s book provides founders and founding teams a 30,000 foot view in how to prepare for the grueling personal demands of starting a company. This is essential because otherwise, it is easy for entrepreneurs to get lost in the details.
I have started my own marketing consulting company, Latino Link Advisors, and worked with numerous startups – both large and small – in launching their companies/products. I’ve made a number of the mistakes that Ryan talks about in the book and seen other entrepreneurs do the same. That’s why I recommend The Founder’s Manual, to save you time and enable you to more effectively grow your companies, develop new products and solve the world’s problems.