I loved Bootstrap Entrepreneur; no wonder – I’m interested in business, history, and I have an IT background. And I love good stories.
The only complaint about this book I have is that I feel like there was a chapter missing in Bootstrap Entrepreneur. Chapter 12 finished with a cliffhanger; John’s company had been facing a bleak future, and it seemed all was lost. But the next chapter starts from some of John’s health challenges, and he never goes back to that cliffhanger!
In the following chapters, there are some hints about how TMC managed to survive, but I would love to have the whole chapter dedicated to the turnaround from “the middle of the oil crisis and end of the rope” to “the thriving business.”
I’ll go over the points I liked about Bootstrap Entrepreneur in a rapid fashion.
1. 20th Century USA.
The 50s, 60s and 70s in the USA are for me as foreign as an alien culture from a faraway galaxy. So, I was fascinated by all of it, both in the personal life of the author and in the history of computer technology.
A reader gets glimpses into how life was “back then,” when instant connectivity across the globe wasn’t a given, voice communication between cities was expensive and travelling took ‘forever.’
2. IT & Military History.
I had spent 18 years in IT support and I love military history. I enjoyed how John went into the details of explaining the development of computer technology, both from the history perspective and from his own experience (he worked on the first Navy computers put into the airplanes).
3. The Story.
Following John since his childhood till retirement was a fascinating journey. Some of its aspects were more interesting for me than others, but I enjoyed them all.
Boy Scouts times, college, first job experiences, a corporate career, starting his own business, business challenges, family life, health issues – everything was well described, and I felt like rubbing off some wisdom from each aspect.
For example, reading about John’s retirement, I got the insight how I’d love to operate in my last decades, even though I still have a few decades before I’ll even start considering retirement.
4. Business Lessons and History.
Business lessons from the 70s seem outdated, right? Nothing could be further from the truth. IT companies which were good at developing their products, but hopeless at the marketing and management, are now as common as they were in the 70s. Or even more common.
History repeats itself. That is, if you don’t learn from it. It is not a latest social media platform craze that will make your business successful. Poor cash flow and management will beat your business today as quickly as they beat businesses in the middle of the 20th century.
And bonus kudos for John for the Twelve Suggestions for Success at the end of the book. Here they are:
No capital? Be creative!
Know your why.
Build the right team.
Take the time to say hello.
Create synergy and show your appreciation.
Stick to your knitting and keep an open mind.
Quality equals profits.
Listen to your customers.
Don’t give up.
Make no mistake, this book is a memoir; it’s not a business textbook. The main focus is on the life story of John Miller. Yet, it is an interesting story, worth reading. And you can gain a lot of life and business wisdom from Bootstrap Entrepreneur.
I recommend this book to everybody, especially to small business owners and lovers of good memoirs.