The Hard Thing About Hard Things

I concluded recently The Hard Thing About Hard Things – Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers (Ben Horowitz, 2014, 304 pages). I think this is an original and incredible book!

There are of course many original books out there. Many more than I can know of. But what strikes me about this one is how it goes about describing entrepreneurship in ways that I have not seen other books or articles do. Possibly in part because the author, Ben Horowitz, may have a very unusual background. Even in a field where many other founders also have lots of exotic backgrounds.

But some aspects of Ben’s history and views seem particularly original. For example, his love for music, rap in special, shows off in quotes along the book. His openness about his own mistakes seems also very authentic. I honestly believe Ben went through everything he could think of as important, and hard, about entrepreneurship, from his point-of-view.

And, of course, he has great perspective on the topic, by all personal experience since Netscape times in the nineties, to an over billion-dollar exit with Opsware, to the Andressen Horowitz venture capital firm.

From my time as an owner and feeling totally responsible by all the aspects of my small business, I can relate to a lot in the book. It can be at times a pretty hard and lonely position to be in.

So, what are the hard things? They are many, starting with all the difficulties in assembling a good team, and creating a culture for success. And then how to change things while the business grows. But it is also related to lots of unexpected events that seem to turn things radically to the worse, sometimes in very short-noticed way. Such near-death events can be unique to different businesses, but I think Ben makes an awesome job at describing some of the serious issues he faced. The way he went through them, and the kind of advice that was useful to him makes for great lessons to entrepreneurs-to-be.

I also find Ben very inspirational, in a unique way. To me, at least, many of his words and ways of thinking encompass and encourages anyone who actually dare to become a founder. I think he believes that we all have our own very individual strengths that can be put in favor of creating a relevant company. And I think I believe in that a little bit more as well, after reading this book.

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