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Comer Cottrell: A Story That Will Inspire Future Entrepreneurs [Hardcover]

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Item description for Comer Cottrell: A Story That Will Inspire Future Entrepreneurs by Comer Cottrell...

From childhood entrepreneurial ventures with his brother to the $80-million sale of Pro-Line, Comer Cottrell stuck to his recipe for success: practicing the Golden Rule and making his word his bond. Now he shares nine other must-haves for young entrepreneurs. His advice ranges from a strong desire to be the boss to taking risks. At every step of his success, he relied on knowing his product, understanding his customers, and, reinvesting profits in his company a formula that can still work for entrepreneurs. An icon among African American business leaders, Cottrell is pictured in the book with three presidents, sports and entertainment celebrities, and numerous friends and family. A witty storyteller, he traces his involvement in the evolution of African Americans in business and in many of the major events in the twentieth century.

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Item Specifications...

Pages   272
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8.9" Width: 6" Height: 1.1"
Weight:   0.85 lbs.
Binding  Hardcover
Release Date   Oct 12, 2007
Publisher   Brown Books
ISBN  1933285079  
ISBN13  9781933285078  

Availability  0 units.

More About Comer Cottrell

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Business & Investing > Careers > General
2Books > Subjects > Business & Investing > Small Business & Entrepreneurship > Entrepreneurship

Reviews - What do customers think about Comer Cottrell: A Story That Will Inspire Future Entrepreneurs?

It all began with rabbits  Nov 12, 2007

As I began to read Comer Cottrell's autobiography, I was reminded of what Oliver Wendell Homes observed many years ago: "I would not give a fig for the simplicity this side of complexity, but I would give my life for the simplicity on the other side of complexity." Also a resident of Dallas, I was aware of only a few the details of Cottrell's life and career and thus was curious to know how he and his partner, Huggy Henderson, started Pro-Line in 1970 without any funds that was sold 30 years later for $80-million. Henderson moved on after the first year but Cottrell persisted, building his company on what he characterizes as the "lean-entrepreneurial-skills-as-you-go-principle." The advice he provides in this book may seem simplistic to some readers but, in my opinion, Cottrell shares the business lessons he learned during his journey to "the other side of complexity."

Those lessons are best revealed within the book's narrative, in context, so I shall offer three reasons why I found this book so interesting. First, Cottrell somehow balances his determination, his obsession to achieve principled success, with an uncommon modesty, almost self-deprecation. He is obviously proud of what he achieved, and should be, but he leaves no doubt that Pro-line's success was the result of a team effort, no matter who the members of his team were.

Also, I admire his sharp focus on basics. Most of the start-ups that fail (and at least half of them do) fail because they do not nail the fundamentals. For example, they do not allocate resources prudently, do not control costs, do not understand who their core customer is and how to create and then increase demand among those who meet that profile, and finally, they tend to make these same mistakes again and again. Cottrell's own experiences may help at least some small business owners/CEOs to avoid or correct them.

My third reason is admittedly a personal one: I would have welcomed the opportunity to work for and with Cottrell, especially during the years following Henderson's departure when there so many serious challenges to overcome. He comes across as a demanding but fair CEO who refused to compromise his vision to build a company that would not only prosper but also make a difference in the lives of those who worked there and, especially, those who purchased its products.

The title of this review refers to an incident Cottrell recalls in Chapter 2, at a time when he was ten and cut a deal with a blind man in his neighborhood that launched his business career. The blind man needed help with caring for his rabbits. Young Cottrell suggested that he and his brother (age eight) provide that help and for their weekly services, they would each be paid with a rabbit. He later renegotiated the deal (best explained in the book) and began to sell better pelts for more money and traded other pelts back to the blind man for rabbit food. "We also knew enough to improve our stock by asking the grocery store for the bruised lettuce and carrots that would have been thrown away. We helped the blind man. He won. He paid us in rabbits, the pelts of which we could sell. We won. It was a totals win-win situation."

Presumably what Comer Cottrell shares in this book does not include everything at least some readers may want to know about him but I think everyone who reads this book will agree that many young entrpreneurs (regardless of color and circumstance) will be inspired to formulate their own dreams and then pursue them. Yes, Cottrell eventually became a very successful business executive and a very wealthy man. In several ways, he reminds me of Benjamin Franklin, arguably the first great entrepreneur in U.S. history. Franklin would certainly agree that the nine "entrepreneurial must-haves" that Cottrell recommends are high desirable -- if not essential to success -- in business and in life. And for Cottrell, it all began with rabbits.

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