No one wants to fail — especially when embarking on a business venture. However, we can learn a lot from those who went through the struggle of entrepreneurship and experienced the pain of failure.
Below are five must-read business books about failure we can all learn from:
Billion Dollar Loser: The Epic Rise and Spectacular Fall of Adam Neumann and WeWork
Adam Neumann is the charismatic founder who led WeWork to great heights, ultimately culminating in a string of high-profile investors and a $47 billion valuation.
In “Billion Dollar Loser,” veteran journalist Reeves Weideman gives several lessons in entrepreneurship as he tells the story of everything that led to the fall of Neumann and WeWork. The book recounts everything from Neumann’s questionable business practices, lies, and problematic character to the company’s failure to earn profit and a disastrous first public offering.
Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup by John Carreyrou, Will Damron, et al.
“Bad Blood” gives us a detailed investigative report into Theranos, the legendary Silicon Valley medical startup that was once valued at over $9 billion, and how it failed.
Theranos and its young, charismatic founder, Elizabeth Holmes, promised technology that would only require a pinprick of blood to run hundreds of tests. Despite the billions of investments, however, the company and its founder were unable to deliver such technology.
In this book, author John Carreyrou exposes the history of Theranos, including the secrecy, lies, toxic company culture, rampant silencing, and more that led to its demise.
When Genius Failed: The Rise and Fall of Long-Term Capital Management
Roger Lowenstein’s “When Genius Failed” is a compelling read about Long-Term Capital Management (LTCM), once the largest hedge fund ever, and its swift crash in just four years.
Founded by well-known bond trader John Meriwether, LTCM once held $140 billion in assets at its peak. By 1998, though, LTCM’s huge loans, high leverage, and panicked moves due to the Asian financial crisis caused the firm to suffer consecutive months of losses and eventually need a billion-dollar bailout arranged by the U.S. Federal Reserve.
Readers can learn much from the firm’s mistakes, particularly its risky strategy models, highly academic approach, and overconfident belief that their investments are risk-free.
The Smartest Guys in the Room: The Amazing Rise and Scandalous Fall of Enron
Texas-based energy company Enron was once one of the biggest companies in the U.S. In this book, Bethany McLean and Peter Elkind tell the entire story of how Enron came to be known as the biggest fraud scam in the country.
After building its name for over a decade, Enron’s reputation collapsed in just a month — ending with the company declaring bankruptcy and several executives jailed. The book exposes Enron’s lies, deceit, and greed — from its mark-to-market accounting, which allowed Enron to appear worth more than it is, to its high-risk yet questionable deals and illegal practices.
Greed and Corporate Failure: The Lessons from Recent Disasters
Unlike the first four books that focused only on one company and its scandals and failures, this book by Steward Hamilton and Alicia Micklethwait dives deep into what caused eight companies to fail.
The book gives readers detailed explanations of the six major causes of the most famous corporate failures in recent history. The authors discuss how the failure of internal controls, over-expansion and ill-judged acquisitions, poor strategic decisions, dominant CEOs, ineffective boards, greed, and hubris, led to the most significant company crashes.