The Hockey Stick Principles (Hardcover)

The 4 Key Stages to Entrepreneurial Success

By Bobby Martin

Flatiron Books, 9781250066374, 304pp.

Publication Date: May 24, 2016

List Price: 27.99*
* Individual store prices may vary.


Many business books fuel unrealistic notions about what a good idea looks like, how fast a founder should attract investment, and how quickly growth will take off. The problem with this mythology is that it can sometimes end with entrepreneurs abandoning their dreams too soon if they don't see immediate results. In The Hockey Stick Principles, author Bobby Martin shifts his focus away from all the hype about rapid growth and the pursuit of funding and instead takes a look at the real process behind getting a good idea off the ground.

Using a hockey stick as a metaphor and highlighting four key phases, Martin shows the healthy way a business should grow and uses entertaining stories and interviews with successful entrepreneurs like the founders of LendingTree, Under Armour, and iContact, woven throughout the book to not only share a wealth of advice, but to chronicle the ins and outs of these different phases:

-The Tinkering Period: The tip of the stick, or the time when you first develop and hone your idea.
-The Blade Years: The formative years when growth can be flat and navigating the unpredictable process of creating a company can be rocky.
-The Inflection Point: The crucial point in time right before your business takes off when it's important for entrepreneurs to prepare and make decisions to properly manage rapid growth.
-Surging Growth: Once your company proves that they have potential, you need to optimize that growth and scale up in a sensible way.

Innovation almost always involves a number of challenges, misdirections, and uncertainty and can take several years of struggle. But The Hockey Stick Principles gives aspiring entrepreneurs and those in the midst of the messy process a realistic, human, and inspiring understanding of what starting an innovative business is like, while teaching you what to look out for along the way as you shepherd your business through to success.

About the Author

BOBBY MARTIN has cofounded two successful startups, one of which, First Research, a leader in sales intelligence, was sold to Dun & Bradstreet. He’s deeply involved with five other startups as an angel investor and advisor. Martin is chairman and cofounder of Vertical IQ, a leading provider of sales research insight for banks. He speaks frequently about entrepreneurship at universities around the U.S. and at corporate events. In 2006, he was the recipient of the Triangle Business Journal's "40 Under 40" Award in Raleigh.

Praise For The Hockey Stick Principles: The 4 Key Stages to Entrepreneurial Success

One of The Globe and Mail's 2017 Best Book for Entrepreneurs

"Based on a study Martin conducted on startups, [he] provides a number of benchmarks across those startups. For the benchmarks alone, I found the book worth a read." —Stephanie Denning, Forbes

“An honest, detailed, practical look at the realities of building a hyper-growth startup.” —Josh Kaufman, bestselling author of The Personal MBA: Master the Art of Business

“In The Hockey Stick Principles, Bobby Martin has drawn not only on his own experiences as a successful entrepreneur but also on the experiences, good and bad, of other entrepreneurs, thereby crafting an original piece of work chock full of great advice that could only come from someone who has actually done it. This excellent book should be read and taken to heart by everyone who owns or aspires to own a business.” —Bo Burlingham, Editor-at-Large of Inc. magazine and author of Small Giants: Companies That Choose To Be Great Instead of Big and Finish Big: How Great Entrepreneurs Exit Their Companies on Top

The Hockey Stick Principles is relevant, practical, and action-oriented. This book clearly articulates the entire journey of a growth company—from hatching the idea to landing first customers to scaling growth and beyond. Bobby Martin goes into the nitty-gritty with extreme detail and the result is a powerful guide for entrepreneurs.“ —Cam Houser, CEO of 3 Day Startup

“Bobby captures so much of what it's like to be an entrepreneur, and his examples and anecdotes will help those of us who are building businesses get on—and stay on—the right track. This book is readable, instructive, and packed with great insights!” —Craig Wortmann, Clinical Professor of Entrepreneurship at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business and Founder of Sales Engine, Inc.

The Hockey Stick Principles is packed with lessons learned the hard way. The chapter on exiting a business is worth the cost of the book alone.” —John Warrillow, author of The Automatic Customer and Drilling for Gold, coauthor of Built to Sell and former founder and CEO of Warrillow and Associates

“Bobby Martin shows through his own and other founders’ stories that the challenges faced during those challenging, difficult early years, are the very essence of what makes an entrepreneur successful. Inspiring. Practical. Highly recommended!” —David Cohen, Techstars

“Bobby captures so much of what it’s like to be an entrepreneur, and his examples and anecdotes will help those of us who are building businesses get on—and stay on—the right track. This book is readable, instructive, and packed with great insights!” —Craig Wortmann, Clinical Professor of Entrepreneurship at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business and Founder of Sales Engine, Inc.

“Every student interested in entrepreneurship should read The Hockey Stick Principles. It’s jam packed with real life lessons and true stories of how businesses were built.” —Jeff Reid, Founding Director, Georgetown Entrepreneurship Initiative

“If you’re considering starting a business, this book is a [hard hitting], real-life view of what it’s like. It sets your expectations better than any other business book I’ve seen.” —Lee Demby, cofounder of BoardRoomInsiders

“This book is like the friend by your side making you successful. It’s fun to read, conversational, and helpful.” —Joan Seifert Rose, president at Council for Entrepreneurial Development

“Companies are utilizing predictive analytics to scale specific areas of their business, so why not use it for creating the companies themselves? Bobby’s analytical method to determine the stages that a company must reach to scale their growth and achieve success is a great example of using data to drive smart, impactful business decisions.” —Shashi Upadhyay, CEO of Lattice Engines

"Bobby Martin dispels many common startup myths and provides powerful, practical, personal and business advice for every stage of the entrepreneurial journey—from developing ideas to bootstrapping to growing the enterprise to exit. This is a must read for anyone who wants to know what it really takes to succeed in business. —Bryan Toney, Associate Vice Chancellor for Economic Engagement, University of North Carolina at Greensboro

The Hockey Stick Principles is an honest and straight-forward look at entrepreneurship from someone that has clearly been through the process. The reader can expect to come away feeling well prepared with realistic expectations. Entrepreneurs should reread The Hockey Stick Principles each year as they launch and grow their business because this sage advice will keep on giving as the reader’s perspective changes and evolves.” —Erich Schlenker, manager of Appalachian State’s Entrepreneurship Center