In his biography, Patrick Burke is described amongst other prestigious titles as a ‘serial entrepreneur’, and this kind of appropriately streetwise, chic-scrappy practicalness is reinforced by the specificity and decidedly un-flowery rhetoric in his new book. If its title is any indicator, The 10 Biggest Business Mistakes and How to Avoid Them is concise, to-the-point, and keeps things short and snappy. Burke efficiently maneuvers between analogous, narrative-styled prose and witty, descriptive step-by-step breakdowns of essentially what not to do. It’s an interesting approach and particularly pertinent to the continual evolutionary tactics leaders in various fields of business are consistently applying. A book like The 10 Biggest Business Mistakes could follow the traditional mold of the leadership advice nonfiction sub-genre. But Burke purposefully, deliberately, does not let this happen. While he tips his hat to timelessly effective trends and tactics ensuring you’re the leanest horse for the longest ride, his focus is solely on timelessly ineffective tactics that the budding entrepreneur or even, perhaps, seasoned CEO or chapter president should avoid like the plague.
For all his unaffectedness and sense of irreverence, Burke is tirelessly elaborate in outlining all the pitfalls to avoid in business. These includes breaking concepts down to their last iota, in however a relatable conduit. This results in contrarian insights one wouldn’t expect, probably one of the most striking being his insights in the book’s second chapter, entitled Lifestyle. A subcategory titled Cash is King expertly states – “Although it may seem counterintuitive, you can retain too much cash in your business.” He elaborates, “…once the cash need is determined, it is appropriate to distribute the excess to yourself. Use this cash to build a diversified portfolio outside of your investment in your company. This is essential as a hedge against additional risk you may need to take on later.” He cites this as a part of an overall corporate philosophy he calls the ‘Lifestyle Business’, but in true Burke fashion instantly jumps to the importance of understanding when your respective endeavor is in fact a ‘Lifestyle Business’ versus a ‘Growth Business’. Everything proves an impeccably well-formed juggle the respective entrepreneur must maintain for consistent, symbiotic rapport between his or her professional life and/or their personal one. “A good lifestyle business coupled with smart investing will result in financial security, but not real wealth,” he states. “Real wealth results from building a growth business with a sustainable advantage that can someday be sold at a high multiple of earnings…So, even though there is much more pressure in operating a growth business, the rewards can be far larger and can, post-sale, result in a truly lavish and leisurely lifestyle. You know, the power of deferred gratification and all that.”
While not necessarily an exercise in the most civil kind of discourse, Burke’s book cuts through all the formalities and gets down to business. The fact that he pays it forward in a manner arguably fresh, relatable, and organic makes him all the more collectively a trustworthy narrator on what he speaks. It’s a nice trait, and that nicety is also quite effective. Overall, Grade: A-