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If at First You Don't Succeed...: The Eight Patterns of Highly Effective Entrepreneurs

Brent Bowers, Author, Carl Schramm, Foreword by
Brent Bowers, Author, Carl Schramm, Foreword by . Doubleday/Currency $24.95 (218p) ISBN 978-0-385-51546-7
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Bowers, a business editor at the New York Times , tries to get past the generalities about what makes a successful entrepreneur—they "notice things," they "want to be in charge"—by bulking up on real-life illustrations of the broader principles. He gracefully delineates key entrepreneurial traits: an aptitude for seizing opportunity; rejection of authority; a long history of innovation; doggedness; agility, or a "tolerance for ambiguity" in the marketplace; enthusiasm tempered by pragmatism; and an ability to "fail upward," or learn from mistakes. The individual stories can be entertaining and enlightening—especially in later chapters on impulsiveness and coping with failure that contain vivid examples of what not to do. But Bowers's sample of small business owners begins to feel somewhat constricted when he repeatedly revisits the same people (like Cameron Johnson, who started his first dot-com company when he was nine years old), and his theories on the psychological roots of the entrepreneurial personality (e.g., hard-to-please fathers, or "borderline bipolar" disorder) make for the book's least useful content. Still, this is a well-organized, nimbly reported account for those seeking answers to the riddle of entrepreneurship. (Apr. 18)

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