Nothing to Lose, Everything to Gain Book Review

If you’re looking for a step-by-step blueprint to becoming an entrepreneur, I encourage you to look elsewhere, but if you think entrepreneurship might be for you and that you just need a kick in the pants then Ryan Blair’s mind-set and philosophies are a fairly solid place to start.

There are chapters that move faster than others; I personally got a little bogged down in the middle of the book, but there are certainly some good nuggets to extract.

For example:

  • Ryan’s whole approach that you have to work your ass off, never give up, and that you’re going to be okay — it could always be worse.
  • I love that he dispels the notion that entrepreneurship is something you obtain and put on auto-pilot by explaining most entrepreneurs work longer and harder, but don’t drain as easily because they love what they’re doing.
  • The emphasis on taking action and breaking down complex tasks into smaller, more manageable tasks and starting immediately.
  • The notion that you should never bring a problem to your boss/manager/leadership without a recommended solution or two.
  • Identifying your primary driver for becoming an entrepreneur: independence, wealth, recognition or contribution.
  • How to evaluate just how risk averse you are — Entrepreneurship isn’t for the weak of heart.

But there are also some things that I didn’t particularly like:

  • I found Ryan’s personal story compelling and inspirational, but there were also instances in the book when I felt like he was being pretty self-indulgent and simplifying the whole “anyone can do it” mantra.
  • I also really disliked the strong emphasis on raising venture capital and using other people’s money as a way to spread the risk. Often this might be necessary (and in Ryan’s defense it was the way that worked for him), but I would’ve liked to see more of a balance between bootstrapping vs. venture funding.

Bottom Line: I think this book teeters a bit between memoir and business blueprint and as a result falls a little short from both vantage points. If you read a lot of books then by all means pick it up and enjoy a relatively compelling story with some solid (though probably somewhat obvious to more seasoned entrepreneurs) tidbits, but if you only read a handful of books a year there are other, more comprehensive solutions out there with respect to entrepreneurship.