October 26th, 2013

Book Review: Without Their Permission

Without Their Permission: How the 21st Century Will Be Made, Not Managed by Alexis Ohanian (co-founder of reddit) is a book about entrepreneurship online. Ohanian tells the story of how reddit came to be, as well as the hipmunk, his venture after reddit through to becoming an investor and mentor to online startups. He ends the book by talking about his involvement to prevent SOPA and PIPA from becoming law and his passion for the open Internet to remain open. I learned a lot about SOPA and PIPA that I did not understand, but the true value of this book for me was the advice for startups and entrepreneurs. Ohanian has a straight-forward and honest way of writing that makes it easy to understand. This is yet another resource I wish I had read before starting my own business this past summer.

My favorite words of advice from this book include:

“All links are created equal.”

“An open Internet means a platform where what you know is more valuable than whom you know.”

“Everyone who creates something online has lost control of their message but in the process has gained access to a global audience.”

“You need three things to create a successful startup: to start with good people, to make something customers actually want, and to spend as little money as possible. Most startups that fail do it because they fail at one of these. A startup that does all three will probably succeed.”

“Make something people want.”

“Don’t be afraid to show your users that you give a damn. It should shine in everything you do, fem the design of your website to the way you respond to feedback emails.”

“Magic happens when you give a damn.”

“…you must be ‘relentlessly resourceful’ as a startup because you have so little going for you.”

“…pure hustle…”

“In the early stages, surrounding yourself with the right people is infinitely more important than having a good idea. Your relationship with your co-founder(s) is what’s more likely to make or break your company than the idea itself.”

“Find your customers right now and talk to them.”

“If you are not willing to really understand the industry you’re aspiring to reinvent, don’t bother starting a startup. Having industry experience is not only invaluable for building a great product or service, it also shows investors the dedication a successful founder needs to have.”

“Give more damson than anyone else, because there aren’t a lot of things a startup has going for it, except that its founders and employees certainly care more than the competition. And that makes all the difference.”

“If you’re looking to build a website and you’re not a builder, you’re more than likely going to have to try to become one.”

“Awesome people feed off one another and combine to form something greater than the individual parts.”

“These days, everyone you meet is part of the media.”

“I try to write emails in fewer than five sentences. Precision with impact is one of the most effective writing skills one can have.”

“Do or do not…there is no try.”

This is yet another book I highly recommend for those interested in starting a business based online.

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Link to book on Amazon