Summary of Boss Life

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7 Overall

9 Applicability

8 Innovation

8 Style


Small business owner Paul Downs’s chronicle of a year in the life of his woodworking shop describes a world where the biggest triumph is survival. Downs brings life and drama to such details as customer churn, production flow and employee problems. At times, he may get a little too granular in reporting his daily cash fluctuations, though if you’re running a small business, every detail will ring a bell. Downs’s candid account of how he learned the necessity of reaching out to mentors – in the form of consultants and business peers – is particularly helpful. getAbstract recommends his company’s life story, which may serve as a reality check for budding entrepreneurs, especially those hoping to turn a passion into a profession.

In this summary, you will learn

  • How woodworker Paul Downs ran his start-up company and overcame his lack of management skills,
  • Why any owner-boss of a small business must acquire skills in every area of its operations and
  • Why a boss needs mentors.

About the Author

Paul Downs is founder and owner of Paul Downs Cabinetmakers in Bridgeport, Pennsylvania. He has written for The New York Times and his You’re the Boss blog.



Meet the Boss

Paul Downs founded his small business, Paul Downs Cabinetmakers, in 1986. The Bridgeport, Pennsylvania, business builds customized conference tables for corporate and government clients. Originally, Downs focused on design, woodworking and sales. Once he hired employees in 1987 and his operation grew more complex, he cultivated new skills in human resources, finance and operations. He learned as he went along, but, he admits, “I’m no business genius.” His management was good enough to keep the company growing steadily for two decades, but wasn’t strong enough to cope with the 2008 recession. By 2009, the business was at “death’s door.”

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