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The Reluctant Entrepreneur

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Intelligent strategies for starting and growing a small business with minimal personal financial risk A comprehensive guide for entrepreneurs from one of the most successful business creators in recent years, The Reluctant Turning Dreams into Profits addresses the fears and misconceptions that many people have about starting their own businesses, walking prospective owners through the necessary decisions they need to make before even putting a business plan in place. Presenting solid, reliable strategies based on author Michael Masterson's own successful practices, and debunking some common illusions entrepreneurs have about their businesses, the book is a vital resource for anyone looking to avoid the pitfalls that threaten fledgling companies. Essential reading for small business owners and both first time and established entrepreneurs, The Reluctant Entrepreneur presents the smart strategies on starting and growing a small business that can make launching your own company a cinch.

192 pages, Hardcover

First published June 8, 2012

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Michael Masterson

35 books70 followers

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5 stars
39 (24%)
4 stars
43 (27%)
3 stars
52 (32%)
2 stars
21 (13%)
1 star
3 (1%)
Displaying 1 - 20 of 20 reviews
12 reviews3 followers
January 26, 2016
Damn I really love Mark Ford's (aka Michael Masterson) writing style. It sounds like he's talking to you. Very down to Earth, not pretentious, not overbearing, maybe a little biased toward doing the right thing and not having to be cut-throat, while still working harder than everyone else.

This book talks about keeping your day job and starting a business on the side. A risk-averse long-term approach to entrepreneurial success. Opposite of the quit your job, create a MVP, and maybe get customers or just go straight to VC funding.

It's a book about how entrepreneurs are normal people. You don't have to be a thrill-seeker or even identify as an entrepreneur to start and grow a successful company.

Tons of great material on hiring, interacting with people, negotiating, doing deals, etc.

Couple of the articles in the appendix are worth reading: "The unexpected side effects of making money" - where Mark describes how he put making money as his top priority and what he would replace that with if he could go back. Focusing on the long-term business as opposed to short-term profits. "The time-management system that works for me" - where he talks about an easy and rational way to set goals and priorities. I've read tons on this subject, but his approach is new to me, simple, and makes a lot of sense. I'll definitely give it a try.
Profile Image for W. Whalin.
Author 44 books392 followers
January 2, 2014
In the first chapter, Michael Masterson sets a new definition for Entrepreneur. He adds the modifier "Reluctant" and the combination makes for a fascinating and compelling book full of insights.

To begin your own business, you do not have to risk everything or quit your day job or feel like you have to parachute out of an airplane. Instead you can take limited risk and calculated steps which can lead to a successful new business.

Michael Masterson charts the course for every reader in this well-written book. Bring your highlighter because if you are like me, you will regularly be marking different pages to return to them for action. Each chapter has well-drawn lessons with experienced insights.

Many readers can gain from a careful reading and personal application of this material. I loved the critical question which begins the second chapter, "Most would-e entrepreneurs are motivated by an idea--an idea for some great new product. But they almost never ask themselves the big question: Is this the kind of product I can actually sell?" (page 21) Then he continues, "There is only one way to find out if your product is good, and that is to start selling it. The sooner you start selling it, the faster you will know. (Most products, it turns out, are not as good as the inventor--or her son--thinks they are.)" (page 23)

A careful reading and application of this material to your own business ideas will cut years of rabbit trails and failure from your life. Instead you can follow the well-worth path to success that successful business man and multi-millionaire Michael Masterson has blazed for readers through THE RELUCTANT ENTREPRENEUR.
Profile Image for Mike.
92 reviews2 followers
August 13, 2019
The Reluctant Entrepreneur is a book about mitigating risk as a business owner. The author uses examples of successful entrepreneurs (including himself) that have approached business conservatively to make his point. The book covers topics such as mindset, marketing, people, time management, and much more.

There's some valuable insight in this book but it covers the absolute basics and certainly isn't comprehensive. I'd recommend it to a cautious individual who thinks they want to get involved with entrepreneurship, but only with the caveat that more reading on the subject is required.
April 18, 2019
Found the whole book a little too braggy and condescending. Read about a third and skimmed the rest for useful tidbits. Didn't find it useful for someone attempting to start a small, modest business. It seems like it was designed for those attempting to grow their business idea into a multi-million dollar empire some day.
15 reviews1 follower
December 29, 2019
Descent book. Not the best Ive read but worth the read because it’s short. There are some good nuggets in there that definitely make it worth your while to read.
Profile Image for Lanre Dahunsi.
175 reviews18 followers
January 16, 2021
Reluctant entrepreneurship is based on the idea that you can start out slowly and proceed cautiously. You do your research and develop your business plan. And you keep your day job while you work on your side business at night and on weekends.

A reluctant entrepreneur is somebody who keeps his day job while he gets his ideal job going in the evenings and on weekends. He is willing to take the initiative to start his own business. But he’s not willing to quit his current job and lose the income. The compromise he accepts is that he will have to work 60 to 90 hours a week for several years before he can either abandon his great idea or fire his boss.

The reluctant entrepreneur wants to build his own business and become wealthy one day, but he wants to do it cautiously. He knows that however good and exciting his business idea seems to be, its profit potential is unknown until it has been tested in the marketplace.

He is ambitious and hopeful but not foolish. He realizes that he has only a limited understanding of the market he is entering, and he does what he has to do to compensate for it.

Start a business you know something about—a business that is based on some interest you have. And take the time to learn about that business from the inside out. That might mean getting yourself some part-time work in the industry.

To succeed in any business, you must understand what kinds of products the marketplace desires and what price points are “sweet.” You must know how those first sales are made—what specific marketing techniques are employed to generate a sale without spending too much money acquiring the customer. You must understand the back end of the business (how to upgrade a new customer into buying higher-margin products). And you must become competent at the basic business skills: marketing, salesmanship, and negotiation.

Risk Taking

“Entrepreneurs are risk takers, willing to roll the dice with their money or reputation on the line in support of an idea or enterprise.”

Take Bill Gates. Legend has it that when the entrepreneurial bug bit, he dropped out of Harvard to start Microsoft. A serious gamble. But, as Rick Smith tells us in The Leap, Gates didn’t drop out at all. He took an approved leave of absence. Then he relied on his parents’ financial support while he developed his programming skills and made contacts. If it hadn’t worked out, Smith argues, Gates would have gone back to Harvard, finished his degree, and made a good living as a corporate executive. Gates had his family behind him. He also had a Plan B. He was not then, nor is he now, a person who takes extreme risks.

“In the modern world of business, it is useless to be a creative, original thinker unless you can also sell what you create.” —David Ogilvy


The difference between successful entrepreneurs and those who fail is usually a question of which ones figure out the way the business works before the money runs out. You can minimize the problems if you begin with the maximum amount of knowledge. The best way to do that is to start a side business that is a knock-off of one you’ve worked in.

Pick an Industry You Know

There’s no better foundation than building on what you know. You might be drawn to the rush of something new and exciting, but your chances of success decrease with every step you take away from what you’re familiar with.

The first business has a good chance of succeeding. The only unknown: Will there be a big enough local market for fish? The second business has a poor chance of succeeding. There are simply too many things you don’t know about it … too many inside secrets that are blocked from your view.

Starting from scratch, learning a new skill, and gaining experience takes time. The danger is that you’ll become overwhelmed and quit. The learning curve is just too steep. But if you choose something you already have experience in, you’ve already got one foot in the door.

Pick the Right Product to Sell

There is absolutely no need to try to invent something new. In fact, that is a very bad idea. Entrepreneurship is not a case of “build it and they will come.” If nobody else is selling what you want to sell, there is almost certainly no market for it.

Forget trying to become the next Facebook or YouTube. They get all the glory when the media shines a light on entrepreneurs. But that kind of instant success is akin to buying a lottery ticket. Most likely, you’ll be working nights and weekends to get your startup business off the ground. That’s the hallmark of a reluctant entrepreneur … to stay within the safety net of a regular job. To have benefits and a steady paycheck until you know your idea is feasible and will make you some money.


From the very beginning—as soon as the entrepreneurial itch strikes—there are three action steps you can take to start turning your dream into reality.

1. Find the time to do it.

2. Find the money to do it.

3. Get yourself up to speed.
Profile Image for Audrey.
202 reviews34 followers
May 23, 2017
Suggests that an entrepreneur should start a business part-time while still having a business, which I don't really agree with.
Profile Image for Paulus.
Author 5 books1 follower
April 23, 2023
One of the most empty self-help/business books I’ve ever read. Page after page of open questions and promises of answering those questions later on.
Profile Image for Roopa.
509 reviews6 followers
July 10, 2020
It’s got some nuggets however a lot of self-selling on himself.

Start the business part-time. Sell the product immediately to see if your idea is good. Hire smart people for the things you are not good at.
Profile Image for Dori Nicole.
44 reviews18 followers
December 10, 2013
the book no doubt has great points and good advice, however it was extremely braggy and it was pretty much the author writing about his resume & bank accounts and how many millions he's developed. and these statements repeated. then he contradicts himself by saying "people are attracted to this who are humble. never talk about how much money you have."....as if his entire book wasn't focused on how much money he has. at that point I began to skim the rest and only stopped to read useful information and advice and not his account numbers and other people's acct #s which was the bulk of the book.
Profile Image for Kimberly.
44 reviews2 followers
July 31, 2012
I have to say, I picked up this book as a new entrepreneur. I could only put up so long with the "look-at-how-much-money-I've-made-and-continue-to-earn-from-people-I've-helped" speeches for so long. I understand the author is successful, trust me. I get it. But then I got to a page somewhere in the 70s where the author states some of his "rules." One of his rules was to never tell people how much money you make.

I closed the book and didn't open it again.

Profile Image for Julio Loo.
86 reviews5 followers
October 23, 2014
What I liked from the book is that it encourage everyone to be cautious and conservative when doing something new, instead of going all in. I know the author is succesful but he doesn't need to repeat it a hundred times, that's self flattering.
Profile Image for James.
58 reviews4 followers
April 14, 2013
This should be a mandatory read for any entrepreneurship curriculum
Profile Image for Chris Armer.
131 reviews2 followers
October 3, 2013
Full of helpful tips, but not altogether practical for the small business. Many tips are for million dollar companies.
74 reviews3 followers
February 19, 2015
Honest, practical, to-the-point advice for would be entrepreneurs who prefer to take a more cautious approach to starting a business.
Profile Image for Matt Habuda.
2 reviews4 followers
August 12, 2015
a good alternative view on life and practices of entrepreneurs. can be a little light on content depth at times. still well worth a read.
Profile Image for Mujahid Aziz.
55 reviews
August 11, 2016
Rank at about 4.5 was a really great book key points was strong actually had to do with the title...
Author 1 book6 followers
October 19, 2016
A lot of good information packed very tightly into a 130-page book. One of the better and shorter must-reads out there for new-fangled entrepreneurs.
Profile Image for Chelsea.
12 reviews
August 23, 2014
It is highly recommended for those who want to have their own business while keeping their own job!
Displaying 1 - 20 of 20 reviews

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