Burn the Business Plan : What Great Entrepreneurs Really Do
by Schramm, Carl J.

Chapter 1 Burn the Business Plan
Chapter 2 Twelve Things Every Aspiring Entrepreneur Should Know
Chapter 3 Why Start a Company?
Chapter 4 What Motivates Entrepreneurs?
Chapter 5 Can You Survive the Entrepreneur's Curse?
Chapter 6 Big Companies Can Be Schools for Startups
Chapter 7 Copycat Entrepreneurs
Chapter 8 Preventing Failure Before It Happens
Chapter 9 Don't Waste Time Doing Things That Don't Work
Chapter 10 Planning for Success
Chapter 11 Becoming a Successful Entrepreneur

Explains that knowledge, passion, determination, and a willingness to innovate are the most important requirements for starting a business.

*Starred Review* This business book lives up to its billing. Schramm, author of The Entrepreneurial Imperative (2006), understands well the nature, pitfalls, and demands of entrepreneurship, having led the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation (a nonprofit specializing in the subject) for years. Now he sets forth in real, practical, down-to-earth ways his knowledge of everything from debunking myths to identifying actions for success. Every one of his tenets is backed by research and a slew of notable and quotable case histories. For example, "motivation" references eight sources and profiles the founders of Yeti coolers (the "Maserati" of fishing equipment), Pink Stork (morning sickness remedies), and old-reliable GEICO insurance. Readers can review Schramm's six-question survey to determine if franchising is the goal, from identifying a niche-stable market to available expert advice. His statistics alone fascinate; for instance, a Johns Hopkins study underscores the disproportionate number of individuals with dyslexia who are forming businesses. And the average entrepreneur, far from Silicon Valley stereotypes, is 39 and has worked in corporate America for at least a decade. Remember Richard Branson's definition of an entrepreneur, "Someone who jumps off a cliff and builds an airplane on the way down." Copyright 2017 Booklist Reviews.

Burn the Business Plan


How can real, practical information help potential entrepreneurs? I have started companies, managed small and large entities, been a venture investor, consulted with big firms and governments on innovation, and spent time as a professor. For ten years, I was privileged to run the Kauffman Foundation, the “Foundation of Entrepreneurship” in Kansas City. Along the way, I was lucky enough to spend time with many successful entrepreneurs, aspiring entrepreneurs, investors, and business visionaries.

These experiences made me realize that many of the popularly held ideas about how, when, and why people start companies probably are wrong. As an economist, I began to look skeptically at the powerful underlying memes—the largely unexamined but widely accepted ideas that shape our view of the world—especially those applicable to new business success. The entrepreneurship memes seemed to be little more than an assortment of stories and case histories that had crystallized into a rubric.

So, in 2002, I embraced the opportunity to direct the Kauffman Foundation. The Foundation was a nearly $2 billion endowment established by Ewing Marion Kauffman, an innovative Kansas City pharmaceutical company founder, and was the world’s largest philanthropy dedicated to promoting entrepreneurship. This was an irresistible challenge: I knew that a continuing stream of new businesses was critical to society’s growth and advancement, and that what entrepreneurs really do is too important to be described by glittering narratives that are not based on evidence. After all, innovative businesses bring us unimagined products and services, create most of the new jobs in our economy, and are the most important force driving growth and creating expanding welfare. Entrepreneurs are too valuable a national resource to be subjected to a potpourri of unsubstantiated aphorisms dressed up as good business advice.

The Kauffman Foundation provided the platform to recruit a small army of brilliant economists to initiate serious research on how new businesses really get started and grow. The team extended the work of Joseph Schumpeter1 and William Baumol,2 two influential economists who had examined entrepreneurship well before almost anyone knew how to spell it, much less what it meant. Research inside Kauffman and scholarship supported by the Foundation produced a torrent of empirical research on entrepreneurs, which resulted in insights that people now seem to think that we’ve always known. For example, it was not previously well understood that young firms create more than eighty percent of all new jobs in our economy, or that new business formation plays such a significant role in economic expansion. Now, happily, entrepreneurship is embedded in every discussion about economic growth. The Kauffman team was the first to inject intellectual, empirical rigor into research about how new firms are created. Because of this work, we know much more about how businesses are formed and how they grow and what is likely to improve your chances for success.

This book seeks to translate many of these findings, and the experiences of some of the thousands of entrepreneurs whom I’ve met, into practical guidance and lessons. It is intended to illustrate how businesses really start, grow, and prosper. The first four chapters speak to the “what” of business startups, the following four to lessons learned by those who have gone before you, and the last section is devoted to data-derived facts, not myths, and realistic guidance from successful entrepreneurs.

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