Too often, entrepreneurship is an exercise in failure.
Even with a winning idea, the odds are against you. There’s a 20% chance you’ll fail in Year 1. That increases to 50% by Year 5. And only 30% will survive beyond 10 years.
With odds like that, should you even try?
By all means, yes! Because now, you have a guide for avoiding the traps that kill so many businesses.
Fall in Love with the Problem, Not the Solution, is your roadmap to success. Written by Uri Levine, co-founder of Waze, it walks you through the process of building a highly successful, highly profitable business, from day 1 to the day after your exit.
About Uri Levine
There are more than enough books by accidental successes. Fall in Love with the Problem is not one of those books.
Levine has started and worked with dozens of start-ups over the past 20 years, including two unicorns.
He’s best known as co-founder of Waze, the world’s largest community-based app offering real-time driving directions and insights from fellow drivers, which was acquired by Google for $1.1 billion in 2013. He’s also a former investor in and the first board member in Moovit, the “Waze of public transportation,” which was acquired by Intel for $1 billion in 2020.
Generous Insights into What It Takes to Succeed
I was initially attracted to Fall in Love with the Problem, Not the Solution because of the title. It zeros in on one of our greatest weaknesses as entrepreneurs — our tendency to fall in love with our idea, solution, or product.
I expected a strong argument for focusing on the problem you solve (not the product you sell) and a few smart tips for getting my entrepreneurial head in the right space. What I got was far more valuable.
Be aware, the first half of the book reads as if it was written specifically for app builders. Levine generously shares his experience building, growing, and selling his apps. And his stories mostly derive from his experience with Waze and Moovit.
I have no plans to build an app, so about a third of the way through the book, I contemplated putting it down and moving on. I wasn’t sure there’d be enough return on my reading time to keep going.
I was wrong.
If you’re an entrepreneur, this book is essential reading.
You may be growing a service business like I am. You may be developing a product. It doesn’t matter. You’ll get more practical value from reading this book than you could from an MBA. You’ll just need to wade through some sections that aren’t immediately relevant to your type of business.
As a writer, I’m particular about the technical aspects of a book. This one passed all my requirements: It’s well organized and beautifully written. Every point is backed up with research, explanations, and stories from Levine’s vast experience. And he leaves nothing out.
- How to identify a problem worth solving
- How to avoid the “Sample of One” mistake
- What to focus on at different stages of your business’ growth
- How to reach product-market fit
- Tips for firing and hiring
- Tips for fundraising
- Going global
- Deciding when to sell
My Biggest Takeaways
My biggest aha! came when Levine explained the order of operations for business growth (my term, not his). Essentially, you must solve product-market fit (PMF) before you focus on growth. Otherwise, you could end up growing a business that doesn’t work.
Levine also does a good job of avoiding the “hustle” trap. Quite the opposite. He recommends two to three years per growth phase. Why?
“Because of the journey of failures. You bring your hypothesis, test it out, if it works, that’s brilliant and maybe you can even shorten the phases. But usually, it takes multiple attempts to get there.”
Of course, if you want to fast-track your journey, Levine spells out what it takes. But I’m happy to report I feel no guilt or shame for not being an overnight success.
Levine’s teaching on product-market fit (PMF) was especially valuable to me. The words seem obvious: Your product must be a good fit for your target market. But Levine gave me a firm grasp of how to find that fit and leverage it for growth.
The Mentoring I’ve Always Wanted
As a business owner, we run into so many situations that have no easy answer. We need honest insight into what works.
Too often, business books are designed to drum up business for the author. They don’t teach as much as they sell.
Fall in Love with the Problem, Not the Solution is the exception. It’s like having a mentor on call, openly sharing his experience so you can follow in his tracks.
With this book at your side, you’re more likely to be the exception as well. Ten years from now, I fully expect you to have jcurved your growth or have sold your business for countless millions.
Buy this book. Read it. Then leave it on the corner of your desk so you can refer to it often. Because I fully believe you will.