Author: Danny Schuman
Publisher: Cortado Press
ISBN: 978-0-692068-526

It's certainly a provocative title: The Worst Business Model in the World: A New Kind of Guide for a New Kind of Entrepreneur. It also stretches plausibility. The worst in the entire world? Worse than one that leads to divorce, prison, suicide? One like Bernard L. Madoff  Investment Securities, LLC?

No. Author Danny Schuman is talking about aspiring entrepreneurs who sometimes "make grand plans and don't fulfill them. Other times we set a clear vision but make no plans, feeling our way and hoping we get there. Once in a while we have no plan and no vision, but we have passion and determination, so we put one brain cell in front of the other and trust that something good will come of it. It may be a terrible business model, but it's a wonderful existence." Or, it's been a wonderful existence for Schuman.

In the book he says he was an ad agency creative director. Apparently he was found redundant in the Great Recession and started a marketing consultancy, Twist Your Thinking, in January 2009. "I haven't done much planning or modeling. Most of the planning I do revolves around lunch and coffee . . . I built and grew my network without a Salesforce-type app or CRM system. I rely on diligence, humor and a pretty good memory [although he keeps good notes] . . . I mostly run my business by the seat of my pants and the usually reliable synapses of my brain. My plan would best be described as a do-good-work, figure-it-out-as-I-go kind of plan."

The Worst Business Model in the World consists of short—very short—chapters followed by a worksheet the reader can use to actually apply the advice. Much of which is unexceptionable. For example, Schuman encourages readers to do what they love. Indeed, he writes throughout about UDOTs, Us Doing Our Thing. He advises asking for the money: "Do the best job you can to estimate the project, then come as close to doubling that number as you can tolerate." He advises finding someone else to do the stuff you don't like to do or suck at. He says he now sends every proposal he writes for a prospective client to a former co-worker; she tells him what she thinks he should charge the client. "It's usually somewhere between 25-50% more than I would have charged myself."

So I have no problem with much of the advice. Indeed, I have heard myself telling prospective entrepreneurs many of the things Schuman says in almost the same words. I do think the book skates over some of the challenges many (most?) entrepreneurs face. He does give one example of taking on a project he should not have, an experience that ended badly ("I was fired the next day.") The lesson, of course, is know yourself and don't take on projects you shouldn't. But that of course is easy to say when everything is going well. 

Also any entrepreneur who wants a bank loan will need a business plan. My fellow business advisors ask people who want to start a business who is going to give you money? Why will they hire you rather than someone else in the same business? How many of them are there; i.e., is there a market big enough to support your business? How will you reach them? And more and more and more. Schuman, I believe, is modest to a fault when he says he had no plan. It may not have been on paper, but based on his advertising agency experience he could see—or suspected he could see—a niche in the market that he could attempt to fill. So far, he's been lucky.

Bottom line: The Worst Business Model in the World: A New Kind of Guide for a New Kind of Entrepreneur does not describe a bad business model, nor is it a new kind of guide for a new kind of entrepreneur. Nevertheless, its hundred pages or so of chatty and breezy text offer useful advice for anyone who has some experience and contacts to take.