David Sax is a writer and reporter who specializes in business and culture. His previous book, The Revenge of Analog, was a #1 Washington Post betstseller, was selected as one of Michiko Kakutani’s Top Ten books of 2016 for the New York Times, and has been translated into six languages. His work appears regularly in Bloomberg Businessweek, TheNew Yorker’s Currency blog, and other publications. He is the author of Save the Deli, which won a James Beard Award for Writing and Literature, and The Tastemakers. He lives in Toronto.
An award-winning business writer dismantles the myths of entrepreneurship, replacing them with an essential story about the experience of real business owners in the modern economy
We all know the story of the latest version of the American Dream: a young innovator drops out of college and creates the next big thing, remaking both business and culture in one fell swoop. We are told these stories constantly, always with the idea that we’ll be next.
But this story masks a lot about what really goes on in our economy. Most new businesses aren’t tech startups; they are what we think of as ordinary: restaurants or dry cleaners or freelance writing or accounting or consulting services. And those who are starting new businesses aren’t all millennials. In fact, if you’re a new college grad, it’s more likely that your parents will start a new business than that you will. In truth, entrepreneurship — new business starts — has been declining for a number of years.
What’s more, while we hear about the few startups that get billions from tech giants, most businesses are run by the people who found them, often on small or medium budgets. What does it actually take to run your own business, week by week and year by year? If you do make it past the first years, what happens when you start managing a big organization? When is it time to consider selling, or grooming your replacement? When you’re an entrepreneur, these are not just financial questions but deeply personal ones.
The Soul of an Entrepreneur is a rich, searching story about the reality of the business spirit. In a field full of gimmicky ideas and empty promises, it fills a much needed gap in the literature: exploring the truth of who we are, what we make, and why we devote our lives to it.