Book Lounge

Business Lessons from the Book – How They Started in Tough Times”

The best way to learn is from other people’s experience, the second best way is to experience it yourself.

This Book written by David Lester and Beth Bishop highlights 25 successful businesses that started during a recession. Most people will advise against starting a business during a recession but the founders mentioned in this book were resilient and believed in the scalability of their idea despite the recession. Reading about these people were able to succeed helped me realize that when you put your mind to something and work hard at it, then you can succeed.

While reading this book, I reflected on every story and picked out some important lessons from the story. I thought it will be beneficial to more people if I documented my thoughts, so here you go.

P.S – The sentences in italics are direct quotes form the book

  1. People love entertainment; no matter how sad the situation is, people always want to be entertained.
  2. People want cheap things with good quality. Give them quality in affordable range and they will buy.
  3. Not all businesses will stand the test of time.
  4. You need partners ,who believe in the vision, to drive you. Knowing the right people is as important as having capital.
  5. Nurture your business, put your heart into it and it will grow
  6. Sometimes the vision is not all about profit. Wikipedia was not built for profit initially.
  7. You can have a brilliant product but unless you know how to reach tens of millions of people then the product will count for nothing. Whatever you do, make sure you connect with the right people. You need people to make your business grow.
  8. You don’t have to have skills in that niche to scale a business, a leader is able to scale any business.


  1. Even with a full order book, a business’ cash flow is paramount. You have to keep creating new things. Look at the market, figure out what it needs and create something to fulfill that need.
  2. To stay in business, you have to stay informed. Continue to look for the latest things and look for ways your company can fit into them. Don’t be afraid to make strategic relationships because it is necessary for your business.
  3. Firstly, do as much networking as possible so that you get to know “a lot of people” and then work hard to make the most of this network- it’s amazing, they say, how important your network is. If you are planning to start up a business you should always know your industry backwards. Your business model is important but executing it in the right way is more important.
  4. Sometimes you might not have it all figured out from the start but that shouldn’t prevent you from venturing into it. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Have fun while discovering. –
  5. You have to keep looking for a way to disrupt the system. A loophole in the system is an opportunity to create something. Partnership is important. Solve problems and you will succeed.
  6. If your product is good enough, your customers will sell it for you.
  7. You have to diversify. Even though you have a dream to do something in particular, sometimes you need to diversify to make more money to fund your passion. Do not be afraid to diversify.
  8. Success takes time, you might have to keep at it for a long time before you see results but don’t give up.


  1. If you try to grow too fast, it can damage you. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
  2. Partnering and networking are very important. You need to be very strategic about both.
  3. Sometimes you will be opportune to be in the right place, it is your responsibility to make it the right time for yourself. Know how to be flexible and dynamic enough to make use of any opportunity you are exposed to.
  4. As an entrepreneur, you have to be ready to make sacrifices, sometimes huge ones. Do not expect to have it all easy in the beginning, the turbulent time will come and it might hit hard but you have to believe that you have the strength to overcome it.
  5. “If you have the right ideas and you and your people are passionate about your products and services, then you can be successful, whatever the economic climate is like. If you ever lose your entrepreneurial spirit then you’ll struggle”. “Never make a decision you can’t reverse. Think of it like climbing a rock face- never step up to a ledge that you can’t get down from”
  6. “If you have the urge to do your own thing, then prevailing interest rates, stock market highs and lows, unemployment figures and housing statistics make not a jot of difference to whether your tiny insignificant company will succeed or not. In this business it is purely down to hard work and commitment to your clients and of course a large spoonful of luck”
  7. Having a unique selling point is a must for any new business, but offering a completely new service also has its downsides”. Believe in your idea, that’s the first step towards scaling.
  8. Hiring the right people is key to business expansion”. Your business is like your baby, even if you sell it at the end you will still always look out for it. Don’t be afraid to give your “baby” out when you feel it is the best decision to make. Sometimes your baby can do better without you.
  9. It is no surprise that sometimes government policies can set you back and make you accrue losses, however, bad situations can sometimes favor your business. You just have to know the perfect time to tap into the moment.

No kidding, I am sure you have learnt one or two things. These lessons do not apply to business alone, you can also apply them in your daily life or career.

This book is the third in the series of “How they started” which gives detailed information on how different successful business started. You can get the books here. I promise you it is a great read.

My name is Mabel. I am an Occupational therapist, who enjoys creating engaging contents. I love partying, eating, travelling and reading. And Oh, I am always available to talk business. Contact me!

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