Book Review: The Best Teacher Is Other People’s Experience

"My Biggest Mistake ..." is a must-read for smart aspiring�and repentant established�entrepreneurs

MyBiggestMistake_FA3.aiFew things make me crazier than watching people practice the ready-fire-aim approach to entrepreneurship. These are the people who get excited about a business opportunity or personal passion and boldly go where angels fear to tread, starting companies without any real business planning, little or no market research, no involvement in (or even knowledge of) industry associations, or any kind of relationship or interaction with people with more experience in their business area. These are the people who, despite their entrepreneurial passion, don’t see the value of attending business events such as the Black Enterprise Entrepreneurs Conference. These are the people whose heads I tried to get into with one of my earlier blogs, “Memo to Entrepreneurs: Learn Before You Launch.”

Well, veteran business columnist Marcia Pledger has written a book that underscores my point: While you can’t eliminate all risk when starting a business, trial-and-error entrepreneurship is not only costly, unproductive and more than a little stressful, it is totally avoidable. Smart aspiring entrepreneurs—and new business owners who’ve taken their lumps and are willing to change their ways (my mom taught me that hard heads make soft behinds)—will make reading My Biggest Mistake…And How I Fixed It: Lessons From the Entrepreneurial Front Lines a top priority.

Pledger’s book, like her column in The Cleveland Plain Dealer that inspired it, is based on a simple proposition: Suppose you could get successful, established entrepreneurs to talk about the biggest mistake they ever made while launching or managing their business, and how they survived that misstep? The result is ample proof of the proverb that the best teacher is not experience, but other people‘s experience. The entrepreneurs profiled in My Biggest Mistake… provide invaluable lessons to entrepreneurs who have figured out that there’s no need to stick their hand in the fire to know that it’s hot—they can take the word of established entrepreneurs who got scorched and lived to tell the tale.

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  • Well said! I have not read Marcia’s book becuase I couldn’t find one available here in Kansas City. But I’ve met Marcia and was impressed with her wealth of knowledge. She is sending one to me from Ohio and I am anxious to get my hands on it. It sounds like good ” practical” information.
    I have stories of my own, some I don’t care to repeat. As an fellow entrepreneur, I know that if you don’t already have story, you’re just a story waiting to happen.

  • Jana Austin-Samilton

    This book is a tremendous source of information. The lessons contained in the book could be valuable tools for other entrepreneurs. It is an excellent book for those interested in starting a new company, but even as business owner for seventeen years, I still found the book helpful.

    I highly recommend this book for aspiring entrepreneurs, but also to those with already established businesses.

  • Marcia was an exhibitor at the African American Cultural Food & Wine event in Cleveland, Ohio, and her book was well received. I had read her book and invited her to host a station. As an entrepreneur, I thought her book offered great insightful experiences for inspiring and existing entrepreneurs. I am having my son (11) who has a lemonade stand read this book. I will invite Marcia back at the upcoming AACFW Fall event in Columbus, Ohio.

  • Joyce Brown

    I always read Marcia Pledger’s column in the Plain Dealer and really enjoyed “My Biggest Mistake” when I heard she wrote a book I was very excited and even more pleased when I read it. It was full of very helpful information for anyone who ownes a small business or thinking about starting one.

    Great Job

  • I haven’t purchased this book yet, but I plan to do so very soon. I know first hand that other people’s experience help me to get where I am. It seems like her book is full of valuable information for small business owners. I too have a book well mine is more like a guide because it’s only 49 pages to help small businesses. I’ve found from my previous research that most small business owners want something that won’t take long to read and use later on as a reference guide. A2Z Inspirational Marketing which is now available, I think is a different spin on what small business owners need. Which are straight to the point marketing lessons and some inspiration to keep them going. I can’t wait to read Marcia’s book.