Wednesday, May 2, 2012

The book of Job as a business primer?

In an April post in my tymshft blog, I discussed the repurposing of Sun Tzu's The Art of War as a business book. In passing, I made the following statement:

Eventually I may look at whether the book of Ecclesiastes may be useful as a guide for business....

(If you're familiar with the tymshft blog, you know that it's all about a statement from Ecclesiastes, "There is nothing new under the sun.")

I haven't gotten around to writing my own take on Ecclesiastes as a business book, but this came to mind when I was reading an interview with Kim Reynolds. Reynolds, who has commented on this blog before, is the creator of, a site that actually does something useful with QR codes.

One of the interview questions asked Reynolds to recommend three books. Her response:

All three of my top book recommendations come from the Bible: Genesis (How it all began), Job (Perseverance in the face of adversity), and Revelations (How this chapter ends).

I'm going to concentrate on the middle recommendation - the book of Job.

For those who haven't read the book, it concerns a man named Job who experiences great calamities. By the middle of the second chapter, Job has lost his livestock, his sons, and his daughters, is covered with sores, and is scraping the sores with a piece of broken pottery.

And his wife is nagging him.

Sounds like the life of an entrepreneur, doesn't it?

While we tend to fix our eyes on the success stories, the truth is that most businesses fail, and those that don't fail often just plug along. We put everything into our businesses - Reynolds makes the point that an entrepreneur might as well just forget about the eight-hour day - and there are times when it all turns to ashes.

And perhaps as we walk away from the bank - or the bankruptcy court - some well-meaning friends come by and offer that dreaded advice - "you're doing it wrong." Why was the entrepreneur stupid enough to base a 2005 business plan on MySpace or Nokia?

Now perhaps the entrepreneur doesn't suddenly get a visit from the LORD like Job did in chapter 38, but at some point the entrepreneur takes a step backward, analyzes what happened to the business, realizes what he/she could have done, recognizes the things that he/she couldn't have foreseen, and then goes on to a new life.
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