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Book review: Build the Fort

Chris Heivly, Build the Fort (Lisa Hagan Books, 2015). When you are sent a book written by one of the founders of Mapquest (I’m dating myself, here!), who featured heavily in the documentary ‘Startupland’ and is currently running one of the largest seed investment firms in the US Southeast, it’s hard not to take a look. Even if it was originally published in 2015.

Heivly’s book is built around the analogy of fort building, applied to building your start-up. It’s something pretty much everyone can relate to. Even if you’ve never built a fort…you’ve experienced childhood and all that comes with it. His style is fun and easy to read. He boils company-building down to five basic elements:

  1. Socialize the idea without fear or inhibition
  2. Partner with skilled and trustworthy people
  3. Gather the assets closest to you
  4. Create a short-term collective purpose
  5. Build the fort

Throughout these five principles he addresses some of the mst common concerns among entrepreneurs building their first business. And his lessons will also resonate with serial entrepreneurs who might find themselves wanting to ‘go back to basics’ when it comes to new ventures.

Keeping your idea secret to the point of killing it. Favouring hours and hours working alone to perfect your product or service rather than working with a group of trusted advisors to bring it to life. Failing to get feedback from potential customers for fear of rejection. All of these are common pitfalls highlighted by Heivly in an amusing and impactful way. You’ll find yourself saying ‘of course that’s what I should be doing!’.

The fort-building analogy is a great one. And at its core is a single common purpose. Like many before him, Heivly extolls the virtue of a purpose-driven business, with everyone involved passionately committed to that vision.

Heivly’s advice? Believe you can succeed and create a landing page!

This book is worth a read if:

  • You have a business idea but are stuck when it comes to turning your vision into reality
  • Your start-up has stalled, for whatever reason. The book might just give you an insight into where your trouble spots are
  • You are at any stage in a startup and are feeling overwhelmed to the point of inaction

If you’ve read this book, we’d love to hear your comments too!

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