I thank Maureen Kelly at bizbookpr.com for sending me a copy of Sramana Mitra's book Bootstrapping: Weapon of Mass Destruction.
I recommend it to my MBA students and to anybody planning on, or even just thinking about, starting a business. And also to policymakers. Maybe especially to policymakers. The importance of entrepreneurs to our economy cannot be overemphasized. Ms. Mitra notes that there are " approximately five million small businesses in the U.S. with fewer than 20 employees [and] [a]nother 20 million . . . without employees." (See also "America Runs on Small Business".) And I most certainly agree with what Ms. Mitra writes on p. 60:
. . . much of the money that enabled the creation of these ventures came not from VCs [venture capitalists], but friends and family, doctors, lawyers, and of course, the entrepreneurs themselves. . . . By taxing the wealthy, Obama threatens to undermine their ability to refuel an already faltering economic engine.
The book focuses on how many entrepreneurs don't get start-up capital from banks or venture capitalists. They raise the money, as noted in the quote above, from people they know. Hence the term "bootstrapping". Ms. Mitra interviews a number of entrepreneurs. One raised $313,000 from family and friends. Another got $200,000 from one "angel" to start. If I had to quibble, I wish there more details provided about these fundraising efforts. For example, the person who raised $200,000 talks, less than a half page later, about getting some patents and then raising another $1.2 million from an angel group. A lot happened in a couple of paragraphs! And I'd like more detail on how did the entrepreneurs handled the stress: business is risky enough with its chance of personal financial disaster; how did they cope with knowing that failure would cost dearly people they cared about?