What is this mysterious activity we call entrepreneurship? Does success require special traits and skills or just luck? Can large companies follow their example? What role does venture capital play?
In a field dominated by anecdote and folklore, this landmark study integrates more than ten years of intensive research and modern theories of business and economics. The result is a comprehensive framework for understanding entrepreneurship that provides new and penetrating insights. Examining hundreds of successful ventures, the author finds that the typical business has humble, improvised origins. Well-planned start-ups, backed by substantial venture capital, are exceptional. Entrepreneurs like Bill Gates and Sam Walton initially pursue small, uncertain opportunities, without much capital, market research, or breakthrough technologies. Coping with ambiguity and surprises, face-to-face selling, and making do with second-tier employees is more important than foresight, deal-making, or recruiting top-notch teams.
Transforming improvised start-ups into noteworthy enterprises requires a radical shift, from "opportunistic adaptation" in niche markets to the pursuit of ambitious strategies. This requires traits such as ambition and risk-taking that are initially unimportant. Mature corporations have to pursue entrepreneurial activity in a much more disciplined way. Companies like Intel and Merck focus their resources on large-scale initiatives that scrappy entrepreneurs cannot undertake. Their success requires carefully chosen bets, meticulous planning, and the smooth coordination of many employees rather than the talents of a driven few.
This clearly and concisely written book is essential for anyone who wants to start a business, for the entrepreneur or executive who wants to grow a company, and for the scholar who wants to understand this crucial economic activity.
"After this impressive study reviews the difficulties and risks involved in starting new businesses, it provides well selected examples of both successes and failures. Bhide's description and analyses of the continuing evolution of growth is placed in a broader historical setting, one that is related to more general economic and sociological analyses and theories. The book should be required reading for entrepreneurs at all stages in the development of their enterprises."-- Alfred D. Chandler, Jr., Isador Straus Professor of Business History, Emeritus Harvard Business School "Required reading for entrepreneurs at all stages in the development of their enterprises."--Alfred Chandler, Harvard Business School
"With the analytic rigor of a scholar and the practical insight of a savvy investor, Amar Bhide explores the most important aspects of entrepreneurship: how and why some businesses prosper and evolve while others atrophy. And unlike most research on entrepreneurs, Bhide explains how what's good for small business is good for big business and good for America."--Richard F. Cavanagh, President and CEO, The Conference Board
"Anyone who wants to start or grow a business should read this book. It combines rigorous analysis with data and field research on hundreds of new ventures. As a third generation entrepreneur, I found Bhide has accurately captured the challenges entrepreneurs face and their free-wheeling strategies for success."-- Dan Bricklin, Co-creator of VisiCalc, Co-founder of Software Arts, Software Garden and Trellix
"I cannot say enough about The Origin and Evolution of New Businesses. It is, in my estimation, the single most significant contribution to our understanding of entrepreneurship to date. It illuminates what lies at the very heart of capitalism itself--the process by which men and women transform human capital (daring, imagination, resourcefulness) into financial capital (wealth). The only negative thing I have to say about this remarkable book is, 'damn, I wish I had written it myself.'--George Gendron, Editor in Chief, Inc. Magazine
"A good deal of what Mr. Bhide says is contentious. But the strength of his book is that it hands us large quantities of empirical and awkward fact. Any future theorizing about the role and nature of the entrepreneur must take it into account."--Financial Times
"This groundbreaking work shows the complementary roles held by innovative startup companies in areas with high uncertainty and little financial investment and by more established companies, which focus on large-scale projects with more certain payoffs....Offering a wealth of avenues for future research as well as insights for potential entrepreneurs, this book is sure to be cited for years to come."--Library Journal