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How We Make Stuff Now

Book Review of: How We Make Stuff Now

Turn Ideas into Products That Build Successful Businesses

Price: About $25 for the hardcover version

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Review of How We Make Stuff Now, by Author (Softcover, 2019)

(You can print this review in landscape mode, if you want a hardcopy)


This book delivers on the promise stated in its subtitle. The first chapter provides a brief history of consumer products. The second chapter talks about where great product ideas come from, and the book then progresses from there through market research, finance, prototyping, manufacturing, and other topics (for a total of 20 areas of expertise), culminating with growing into the future.

The author is an entrepreneur, having founded The Grommet. If you visit you'll have a deeper appreciation for her background. You can also gain that appreciation just by reading the book. Note: She is currently an Entrepreneur in Residence at Harvard Business School.

Ms. Pieri doesn't dispense cookie-cutter advice or something as banal as "ten steps to success" as if you can "paint by numbers" your way to business success by copying someone else. Instead, she starts with the assumption the reader is a maker; a person who has a product idea and wants to bring it successfully to market. The steps involved will vary, as will the resources needed, depending upon what your idea is and what your market is. Using this assumption as a starting point, she guides the serious maker through the various areas of expertise needed to get a product from the idea stage to something that people are buying. A reader who applies her insights can sell that product profitably.

You can think of this book as a guide to helping you help yourself.

The author made extensive use of examples, throughout the book. I don't mean fictional "what if" examples or generic ones. I mean she used examples of what real small businesses did, often including quotes from the maker who founded the business. The richness here really adds to the book's usefulness as a guide to success. You have not just the abstract idea but an example of how someone used it or is still using it.

I have an MBA and successfully run two businesses, so I have some perspective from which to judge any book that purports to provide business guidance. This book does that very well. If you fit the target reader profile (someone who intends to make something or has made something and wants to profitably bring it to market), this book belongs in your collection. You can use it as a guide on an ongoing basis.

If you have some other business model, perhaps based on a service you provide, the book is less applicable in the details but the same principles mostly apply. For example, your service business doesn't manufacturer products but you can take a similar approach to designing you services. You won't have inventory to manage, but you'll still need to manage your finances and do many other things that a product-based entrepreneur does.

This book consists of a 12-page introduction, 21 chapters running 299 pages, and "About the Author" page, and about 2.5 pages of backnotes/references.


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