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

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

Marcia Pledger 

Marcia Pledger

The lessons cover every area from start-up (for example, an embroidery company owner details the high price she paid for launching her enterprise without a business plan), to marketing (a shoe company owner wastes money advertising in the wrong media), to technology (the owner of a design business learns the hard way the cost of foregoing a data back-up system), to family (the owner of a personnel services firm who had to fire his father—the company’s founder). While not every profile is compelling, and it’s hard not to notice that all of the businesses are in Ohio, most of them drive home unflinchingly honest, tough and even revelatory lessons that blow away the romantic pixie dust that too often clouds the entrepreneurial experience. Moreover, the book is a quick and easy read, made more so by the fact the stories come directly from the entrepreneurs themselves. The most valuable part of the book is how each entrepreneur solved their problem or recovered from their error.

If you want to start a business and find the land mines and booby traps all on your own, feel free. Your entrepreneurial experience won’t lack for excitement, though it will likely be short-lived—or worse, it might linger like a terminally ill patient, draining all of your resources as it dies a slow and agonizing (for you) death. My advice: Talk to the people who have already conquered the territory you want to claim. Entrepreneurship will be just as exciting, and when you make your big mistake, at least it’ll be an original. Maybe Pledger will want to share your story in her next book.

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