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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  • 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.