The Hard Thing About Hard Things

Recently I read Ben Horowitz’s book The Hard Thing About Hard Things: Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers. I enjoy entrepreneurial success story books that are full of anecdotes, and this one is good. Most of the book is CEO/founder advice with 80% of it being solid and 20% not so valuable.

Ben’s story of Loudcloud/Opsware is one of the more unusual ones I’ve ever encountered. After starting a cloud computing company in the dot come heyday and going public, he decided he didn’t want to be in the hosting business and pivoted. Pivoting is hard enough when it’s just a couple entrepreneurs and an idea — imagine having the pressures of Wall Street and still moving forward with getting rid of your main business and becoming a software company. The bold move paid off and a few years later they ended up selling the business for $1.6 billion to HP. Ben is the rare entrepreneur that took an idea from inception to unicorn exit.

Here are a few takeaways from the book:

  • Gather input from all the stakeholders and them make the decision you think is best, even without consensus
  • Prepare for psychological meltdowns as the CEO role can be terribly difficult
  • Hire the best candidate for the job even if other team members object (I don’t agree with this)
  • Not everyone will scale as the company scales, but it’s important to give them a shot
  • When the entrepreneurs and executive team are tired, it’s often a good time to sell the business

The Hard Thing About Hard Things is an easy read that many entrepreneurs will enjoy. With the success of Ben’s venture firm Andreessen Horowitz, Ben has cemented himself as one of the leading business people of the 21st century.

What else? What are some other thoughts on Ben Horowitz’s book?

2 thoughts on “The Hard Thing About Hard Things

  1. Ben has cemented himself as one of the leading business people of the 21st century.

    It’s probably too early to say that… At this point in the 20th century, we probably would have said the same thing about various railroad tycoons. You’d have missed automobiles, aviation, pharmaceuticals, electronics, computers, and the Internet.

    There’s still a lot of century left to go…

  2. I work at a company called MassChallenge (The world’s largest venture accelerator) and I keep hearing about this book from the entrepreneurs in our program. I’ll be reading it soon. Thanks for writing a post about it!

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