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Startup Leadership: How Savvy Entrepreneurs Turn Their Ideas Into Successful Enterprises



Startup Leadership: How Savvy Entrepreneurs Turn Their Ideas Into Successful Enterprises

Derek Lidow

ISBN: 978-1-118-84565-3 February 2014 Jossey-Bass 272 Pages

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Anyone can start a business. But only leaders can succeed.

Most entrepreneurs know the long odds: only a fraction of them will lead their enterprises through the rocky stages of growth to launch self-sustaining companies. Very few know how to outflank the failures that await them at every turn, including the most painful—being abandoned by key members of their team or getting pushed out by their board just as their business starts to generate real value.

Derek Lidow is on a mission to improve these odds and change these outcomes. Throughout his long career—as CEO, innovator, and entrepreneur—he has tested virtually every aspect of launching a business. Lidow now argues that success is far less dependent upon a firm’s idea or any grand strategy than it is upon something more personal: leadership. Emerging companies have specific leadership requirements, stage by fast-moving stage. Few founders have been able to leverage the tremendous power of this underrecognized reality—until now.

Startup Leadership demonstrates how founders can adopt the skills that are required at each stage of their journey. Whether you are at the idea stage or managing a more mature enterprise, you can start to recognize the fundamental conflict: how to balance your selfish drives with the more selfless leadership required by the organization at any given time. The book shows you how to achieve this balance by:

  • Assessing your unique motivations, traits, and skills
  • Creating a personal leadership strategy that leverages your strengths and mitigates your weaknesses
  • Mastering how to lead teams, including boards
  • Understanding the five prerequisites for driving change
  • Taking control of your inevitable crises, thereby strengthening your team and your leadership

With Lidow’s help, you will learn how to become the startup leader your business needs, and you’ll move forward with your plans with greater confidence and success.

Related Resources

Preface ix

1 Success Requires More Than Entrepreneurship 1


2 Are You Selfish Enough to Be Selfless? 17

3 Enterprises Are Needy 33

4 Building Relationships 50

5 Motivating Others 83

6 Leading Change 94

7 Creating a Personal Leadership Strategy 113


8 Strategizing Fragile Growth 129

9 Organizing to Succeed 146

10 Hiring and Firing 164

11 Leading Teams 176

12 Leading Through Crises 197

13 The Selfish Rewards of Selfless Entrepreneurial Acts 211

Appendix A Motivations, Traits, and Skills 223

Appendix B The Five Essential Entrepreneurial Leadership Skills 225

Appendix C Characteristics of Projects, Processes, and Culture 226

Appendix D Characteristics of Enterprises and Their Leaders in Stages One Through Four 228

Appendix E Relationship Building and the Benefits and Costs of Cooperation, Competition, and Retreat 233

Appendix F The Five Prerequisites of Change (The Five Ducks) 236

Appendix G Ten Basic Strategic Questions 237

Appendix H Five Phases of Crisis Resolution 239

Notes 240

Acknowledgments 246

About the Author 249

Index 251

“Derek Lidow is right—entrepreneurs, not mere ideas, lead companies to their full potential. Lidow puts this powerful idea to work, alongside the full breadth and depth of his own experiences running growth companies, in Startup Leadership.  I recommend this book for every founder—regardless of your stage—because Lidow's invaluable insights, personal leadership strategies, and framework will help you improve the trajectory of your success.”
—Rich Karlgaard, publisher, Forbes magazine; board director; investor; entrepreneur; and author, The Soft Edge 

“Trust me because I’ve seen and done virtually everything that’s possible in business today. Whether you’re an investor, board member, CEO, accelerator, small business owner, or aspiring entrepreneur, Startup Leadership is mandatory reading.  Thanks to the smart and detailed advice of serial success story Derek Lidow, the book will help de-risk virtually any enterprise.  It will also expand your levels of innovation level, profits, culture and success.  I recommend you get a copy—and give a copy to someone who needs it.”
—Bruce Hack, advisor, angel investor, board director, and former CEO, Vivendi Games 

 “The entrepreneur's journey is often misunderstood as an idea coming to life. In fact, it is entrepreneurs themselves who must learn to create and lead an organization. Startup Leadership provides aspiring and experienced entrepreneurs powerful tools to grow as leaders.”
—Brian O’Kelley, founder and CEO, AppNexus

“This is not another book on how to build a successful startup. Lidow demystifies relationship building, negotiation, and vision creation with clarity and balance.  He shows what it takes to become a more confident leader who builds startups with less risk and better outcomes. Your transformation into a better-equipped entrepreneurial leader begins now.”
—Natasha Gajewski, founder and CEO, Simple Health Inc. 

“If any book contains the secrets of entrepreneurial success, this is it! I recommend Startup leadership to both budding and proven entrepreneurs.”
—Greg Olsen, founder, Epitaxx and Sensors Unlimited 

Startup Leadership is the handbook for leadership all entrepreneurs should read while scaling their business.”
—Chris Kuenne, founder-entrepreneur, Rosetta

“A must-read for aspiring and experienced entrepreneurs!”
—Jeremey Donovan, author, How to Deliver a TED Talk 

“This book fills an important gap among books about entrepreneurship, and Derek Lidow shows what it really takes to make a successful startup. Startup Leadership focuses on the essential, yet elusive, leadership elements required to navigate a venture from idea to self-sustainability. Future entrepreneurs will be thankful to have this companion along for the entire journey.”
—John Danner, professor, Haas School of Business, UC Berkeley

“Finally, an easy-to-read and digestible blueprint for entrepreneurs that will empower them to build and lead sustainable enterprises.  Lidow encapsulates years of trial and error and teaches what’s required for successful entrepreneurship with a clear methodology.”
—Jeanne Gray,  founder and CEO,

“Finally, from the true-life experiences of a highly-successful entrepreneur, comes a how-to book that is more than an academic compendium. Derek Lidow captures the essence of the leadership qualities needed for success, not just in the formation and early stages of a venture, but along the path to a significant stand-alone business. This hands-on book is an instant classic.“
—Ricardo B. Levy, professor, Stanford University, and author,  Letters to a Young Entrepreneur