Book Review: “Confession of a Serial Entrepreneur: Why I Can’t Stop Starting Over” by Stuart Skorman

Mr. Skorman seems to be wired for entrepreneurship, a true hyperactive right brainer, who can see the big picture better than executing detailed work. Being good a picking retail location, he started the Empire Video stores during the peak of the video rental industry and made lots of money from it. He then hopped on the dot com fever and started the which was sold to Hollywood Video for $100M. After a brief hiatus, he started “” to pay forward. When it failed, he took on starting “Elephant Pharmacy” in Berkeley, which he sunk nearly his entire retirement money.

The lessons he offered:
– For retailing, the location is very critical. Take your time picking the best location possible.
– Don’t underestimate the power of technology. The lack thereof caused lower profit at Empire due to its inability to collect late fee.
– Don’t over-spend on technology either, until you have a solid business plan.
– Always consider the profit the first bottom line. The 2nd bottom could be other aspiration like green but firs thing first. Without profit, the business cannot sustain.
– Good balance between life and work is important. Try out start up company first before starting up a business.
– Don’t be revolutionary and over-creative about a new business idea like “Elephant.” New ideas are good. Just need to know which ones are good. Something too new would take up too much time to start and the cash would run out.
– On decision making, let the ones with the best “resume” or expertise make the decision. Empower the right person to make the decisions.
– On hiring, have more than three people interview the candidate once and two people interview twice.
– The reason for Pharmacy to have a large section of the greeting card is to sell more gifts and other things along.
– The biggest profit center for pharmacies are the prescription, which occurs once a month and takes a long time change people’s existing behavior of buying from another.
– Have good mentors who have experience in the areas to guide you along the way.
– Some people are cut out for corporate world where business is less chaotic and well defined. A start up is chaotic.
– Surprisingly, playing poker serves as a good lesson for business, according to the author. Lots of techniques are used in business. Being a professional poker player for a couple of years after Empire Video, the author held an upper hand in business.

There is a pattern that the smart ‘C’ students like the author tend to make it big in the “real” world, perhaps because they compensate their lack of academic achievement with a keen sense of how the “real” world work, coupled with high drive and help from others.

Although he isn’t exactly a multi-billionaire from his business, the author has made enough mistakes and learned enough lessons from his own experience to spare the readers from making them.