According to the United States Small Business Administration and other research groups, close to 95 percent of business start-ups fail within the first 10 years. Despite the odds, entrepreneurs keep jumping off the cliffs of job security, expecting to find some new elixir in the sea below. Usually, only unforgiving rocks await them at the bottom. The winner’s circle is an elusive 5 percent.
Chicken Lips, Wheeler-Dealer and the Beady-Eyed M.B.A.: An Entrepreneur’s Wild Adventures on the New Silk Road (ISBN: 978-0-470-82866-3; John Wiley & Sons (Asia) Pte Ltd) is author Frank Farwell’s personal tale. It is an engaging entrepreneurial startup narrative that takes place in the transitional years of modern China, providing helpful information for anyone crazy enough to want to leave well-paid tedium for the Wild West of self-employment. This nonfiction work tells the story of a tenderfoot company and its neophyte trail boss who maneuvers his way out of hostile territory into a land of plenty. The sequence of mishaps and recoveries gives a living lesson on how to, as well as how not to, go out on one’s own. A detailed appendix, tied in at the end of the book, gives a chapter-by-chapter analysis of what was done right – and wrong – and teaches readers to learn from the author’s step-by-step journey. Result: Readers can more efficiently steer their own start-ups and maximize chances of reaching the winners’ circle – and its considerable payoffs.
Farwell was a marginally salaried staff editor in his late twenties when he decided to leave the corporate world and strike out on his own. In the depths of a sharp recession, many friends felt he was either extremely brave, or terribly foolish. His small family lived on a shoestring while he survived ongoing foibles and failures, learned from mistakes, met an alarming range of colorful characters, and eventually found a forgotten product from China with a defined American market niche. Persistence and hard work provided striking results: His company, WinterSilks (wintersilks.com), became a three-time Inc. 500 company, and eleven years after its founding, still owning 100% of its stock, he sold it for a handsome fortune.
“As years have passed into decades, I’ve realized there were plenty of entrepreneurs who had gone solo, as I had, yet few of them knew how to share what they had learned,” said Farwell. “It would be a crying shame for anyone to endure what I went through, so I figured I’d tell my tale, share a few laughs, and maybe help others’ journeys to freedom become a whole lot easier.”
This is a book that entertains and instructs; it is as much Ha-Ha as it is How-To. It is a must-read for all budding entrepreneurs, for businesspersons dealing with China’s complex retail supply chain, and for business and general-interest readers who simply enjoy a great story.
John Wiley & Sons
|Editorial Department Contribution||