The Minimalist Entrepreneur is too prescriptive for me

I picked up The Minimalist Entrepreneur by Sahil Lavingia from the local library after coming across Gumroad a few times and getting intrigued by its creation story. I was hoping for general but useful advice on starting a bootstrapped business, but was disappointed by the overly prescriptive nature of the book. It feels like the author over-generalised from his own experience, e.g., in emphasising organic community-based growth over other marketing channels, and in insisting that one must share the story of building the business on social media. Example quote: “people don’t care about your business and its success, they care about you and your struggles” – I’d say that most people don’t care about either you or your business, but I can see how Sahil’s story is interesting to Gumroad’s users (who are also small business owners / creators). There are countless examples of products I use where I know nothing about the people who make them. I use those products because they address a need or a want.

The book was off to a good start with Sahil’s story and advice that is in line with advice from Start Small, Stay Small, which I revisited recently. However, beyond around the midpoint of the book, I started losing patience with its prescriptiveness and began speed-reading and skipping irrelevant stories. As one Goodreads reviewer said, the book felt like “three blog posts in a trench coat”, which I suppose is unsurprising as it was born out of a blog post.

Given that it was a quick weekend read, the book wasn’t a complete waste of time. It probably would have been better if it remained focused on Sahil’s own story, which I found the most engaging. The best advice is perhaps in the intro: “You definitely do not need to finish this book to start. […] You start, then learn”.

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