Make Your Mark [review]

Part of what bothers me about startup culture is the number of products and services created that don’t seem particularly important. As a friend of mine once lamented during a space launch, “We rarely do anything ambitious anymore, we just make websites.” What I enjoy about 99U’s latest release is that it’s helping to spread of the stories of people building businesses that matter. It’s a business book written for makers.


Make Your Mark: The Creative’s Guide To Building A Business With Impact is a solid read for anyone thinking about starting a business or whose existing one needs some work (hint: you can always improve and evolve). Just like the last two 99U volumes, this book is divided into sections of essays. The four main chapters are Defining Your Purpose, Building Your Product, Serving Your Customers and Leading Your Team. Contributors are of diverse backgrounds, from seasoned authors on creativity to a submarine commander.

While I won’t recap every section, I did want to mention some that stuck with me. Warren Berger’s essay on asking the right questions struck me as particularly actionable and useful. In it, he details the types of questions you may want to consider grilling yourself over – things like why your business exists and if you disappeared, who would miss you. A few different contributors touch on finding a purpose greater than profit and how focusing on others is not only just good business, it’s being a better person. The Leading Your Team chapter was also particularly thought-provoking. These essays explain how many creatives have an aversion to lead, but how we can overcome that, and why leadership roles are in desperate need of creatives. It made me reimagine the role as less Wall Street and Silicon Valley, and more makers that are in touch with the people they are serving.

I cannot limit this book as just for people starting businesses because there a number of handy exercises, whether it’s finding your personal purpose in life or a kick in ass the pep talk from Seth Godin to close out the book. At around $10 (paperback or digital) I know I found it to be a better investment than my third Old Fashioned of the evening.

Make Your Mark is available primarily on Amazon. But if you see it lounging around at your local indie bookseller, pick it up right there and then.

Previous 99U reviews from us:

Manage Your Day-To-Day
Maximize Your Potential