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View Full Version : Good books on doing good buisness


Aldrin
03-19-2008, 02:47 PM
I'm currently an undergraduate going into his junior year for a bachelors degree in biotechnology with a concentration in bioinformatics (more for the computer/programming experience than anything else.), however it's just not enough to keep me busy every single minute of the day (which I crave.) Ultimately what I'd like to do is run my own biotech company, however the start up cost for such is extreme in terms of money and time for R&D to simply develop a product.

The next best solution would obviously be to work my way up the ladder of one of the five dozen companies in my area (hooray for Massachusetts), however I do not have the $300,000 to attend Harvard business school and work my way up to an MBA. From what I've seen at my own state school the business courses are not comprehensive and students more concerned with partying than learning. The options are not in my favor, but how can I hope to climb a corporate ladder without a business degree at any measurable speed? As a temporary solution I've decided to pursue the Biotechnology masters degree with focus in management at the Harvard Extension School as soon as I graduate, although geared as more of a lead researcher role than anything else, its something to move me forward.

The only other thing I can think of is starting my own business on a smaller scale and getting experience that way. With my limited experience in the lab as it is and talking to my professors it is clear that disposable plastic labware is huge for biosafety reasons, but also extremely overpriced. Luckily having attended a vocational high school and majoring in mechanical engineering all of my close friends are majoring in engineering of some sort; electrical, mechanical, chemical, industrial design. Between us and some friends of friends we think we could start up a medium scale production and gradually introduce some of our own product designs into the mix. But the problem still exists, we need more business know-how.

So to get to the point: anyone know some good books/guides /resources for business, hopefully something more comprehensive than a generalized how to make your own startup in 24 hours type? Perhaps I should find out what overpriced books Harvard business is using in their classes? Or perhaps I should look for a seasoned mentor? There is time yet, If we're going to do this I wanted it to be the right way.

Max T
03-19-2008, 07:06 PM
I think it might be difficult to find a good book on starting-up that goes into decent depth on a variety of business issues for three reasons:
- a little knowledge in every aspect of business is a dangerous thing,
- there is a high degree of variability on what core business issues each start-up should focus on and
- successful entrepreneurial traits cannot be bottled into a book. You either have it or you slowly learn it through trial and error (I’m the latter (gawd dammit)).

But a good start-up book to crucially assess the feasibility of your idea and improve its plan is “Will it Fly?” by Thomas McKnight
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This will encourage consideration of a multitude of factors important to start-up success.

I also recommend that you de-emphasise the importance on books in general and Harvard B-School. MBA studies are generally heavily geared towards large capital, blue chips and specialist business fields (operations, IT, accounting, marketing etc.), since the majority of graduates will be working within a department of large companies. Such information is likely to be unsuitable for your needs.

Your suggestion of a seasoned mentor is excellent- not only will they rapidly identify the salient points to your venture, you will learn far more from understudying them than from 10 business books. But good ones are busy people. Throw the net wide on potential mentors who could spare a few hours a week (or take part ownership of the enterprise).

Also really immerse yourself into the flow of information on the plastic labware market and its pricing. Working from the top of the supply chain down, there might be 3 areas why it appears overpriced.
1. Oil prices (to make the plastic) and energy costs (to distribute) are currently very high, increasing final retail price.
2. To compete on price against existing labware rivals, you’d need serious volume of production to drive down per unit cost. To generate such volume requires many customers and so would involve distributors and wholesalers in the supply chain- they all add their margin, further raising retail price. Generating volume from Universities could be tricky.
3. Finally the buyer. Universities don’t have specialist buyers and lack order quantities to wield power over suppliers. Universities are also often government funded which means that they’re typically “price insensitive” buyers- they don’t really care how much they pay for many items. So amongst the range of customers for disposable biotech labware, perhaps Universities pay more than small biotechs and blue chip Merck etc.
This is speculation but many entrepreneurial ideas fail due to lack of understanding of the broader circumstances.

Also be mentally agile- perhaps the business opportunity lies in not manufacturing labware but acting as an agent to multiple universities, gathering their sizeable aggregated orders and using that power to gain better prices from manufacturers. In effect becoming a specialist wholesaler to universities. Again- just speculation since I obviously know next to nothing on this area.

But the real big question is whether a start-up would jeopardise your education- obviously too big an issue for a discussion forum.

If this idea doesn’t work out, gain solace from the notion that your next idea will more likely succeed- it’ll be better screened and executed better.
Conversely, beware that putting everything into just one idea can be dangerous- set up contingency plans to lower the emotional barrier of dropping a venture if it isn’t economically feasible.

ShaiGar
03-20-2008, 01:28 AM
Robert Kiyosaki's "Rich Dad" books are excellent. Most "Real Estate Investment" books teach you excellent financial knowledge as well.

mxdntz
03-20-2008, 03:57 AM
Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies

Good stuff!:thumbsup: