The Hard Thing About Hard Things Summary – Ben Horowitz’s Book On Running a Startup Business

The Hard Thing About Hard Things by Ben Horowitz is an upfront approach to confronting the myth that the perfect business exists. Through utilizing his story, Horowitz outlines the biggest mistakes, hardest decisions, and toughest times he faced. With immense detail, Horowitz allows us a view into the life of someone leading billion-dollar corporations, all while insightfully instilling knowledge within his readers.

This is a summary of The Hard Thing About Hard Things, highlighting the best concepts and ideas we have got from reading it and we are also going to tell you whether it is worth reading the complete book.

The Hard Thing About Hard Things Summary

Ben Horowitz is the cofounder of Andreessen Horowitz, a venture capital firm in Silicon Valley. Similarly, he’s also considered to be one of Silicon Valley’s most respected and knowledgable entrepreneurs. In the book The Hard Thing About Hard Things, he compiles years of hard work, failures, important life lessons, and passed down advice, all for readers to apply to their unique situations and businesses.

The Hard Things About Hard Things Summary

Few people are willing to open up about the difficulties and struggles associated with running a business – many prefer to discuss how rewarding it is instead. Horowitz openly states that there is no such thing as a perfect business.

He advises that despite proper planning and adhering to timeframes, there will always be incidents of failure or error in judgment. It’s how you rebound from these moments, that truly matters.

Throughout the book, Horowitz intrinsically amplifies his many business lessons with quotes and lyrics from his favorite rap artists. Similarly, Horowitz layers this book with both humor and straightforward discussions, making his stories interestingly witty.

Offering the kind of advice that any budding or experienced entrepreneur can benefit from, Horowitz explains what to do when you screw up because inevitably, you will.

Main Concepts & ideas from the book

Throughout this book, Horowitz offers a multitude of conceptualized ideas and advice to readers. Utilizing this knowledge, Horowitz hopes that folks can create healthier and more productive business environments – while still acknowledging the naturality in failure. Here are some of the main concepts brought up during stories of Horowitz’s experiences.

CEO’s Must Show Transparency

Much of this book speaks directly to those in leadership positions, like CEOs, owners, managers, etc. Horowitz advises the importance of maintaining transparency with employees. This should be in terms of everything work-related, but especially, your companies issues.

This is much to do with the fact that employees are oftentimes more aware of the problem than that of someone like the CEO. A good corporate culture would encourage employees to speak their minds, addressing the issues firsthand.

Similarly, without corporate culture creating a communicative and transparent environment for employees, trust will not be formed.

Horowitz highlights that as companies continue to grow, ensuring trust can become one of the greatest obstacles to overcome. Trust amongst co-workers and employees with CEOs or management is crucial for the proper functionality of a business or corporation.

Take Care of the People, the Products, and then the Profits

The best CEOs and owners will acknowledge that taking care of your people, equates to taking care of your company. Referring back to creating a good work environment, taking care of employees’ wellbeing comes first and foremost.

Horowitz notes that oftentimes when corporations and businesses grow, hardworking employees tend to go entirely unnoticed. This can create a feeling of resentment, causing a business to lose once-loyal employees to other companies, or have employees that remain but are unmotivated.

Contributions by employees cannot be undervalued by upper management. This is because more often than not, employees either deliver or sell a companies product. Without this, a company does not accumulate profit.

This is the reasoning behind Horowitz describing it as essential to prioritize your people first, then your products, and lastly, your profits.

Minimalize Politics Within the Company

Horowitz says that CEOs create politics, by encouraging and sometimes incentivizing political behavior – even if done unintentionally. An excellent example is presented in terms of a pay raise.

If a CEO agrees to a pay raise for one employee, but under the terms of confidentiality, the news will more than likely get out to the other employees through word of mouth. This can cause resentment, not to mention an increasing demand for pay raises.

Horowitz also acknowledges that minimizing company politics is a difficult task and counter-intuitive to encouraging employee development. Nonetheless, he advises that CEOs should create a performance and evaluation-based structure, fairly dealing with compensation disputes.

He also advises giving hard-working employees advancement opportunities, allowing for the expansion of scopes of responsibility. Lastly, he notes the importance of having a structure in place for complaints, particularly between two employees.

Who Should/Shouldn’t Read The Hard Thing About Hard Things

This book is a renowned resource for CEOs, owners and management teams alike. If you find yourself falling into one of these categories in your workplace or company, then this is a highly beneficial book.

Similarly, anyone with a genuine interest in the life of a CEO or Silicon Valley icon, would more than likely find thorough enjoyment from this book.

On the other hand, for folks completely uninterested in the realm of business, this book may not be suited for you. Also, if you’re the type of person that’s not open-minded to potentially seeking out new ways of running your business, then you may find this information redundant.

Review of The Hard Thing About Hard Things

I’ll preface this review by saying, I fully enjoyed this book. I found that Horowitz being such a renowned person in Silicon Valley and the business world, assured me that this content was going to be legitimate and useful. While I’m not personally a CEO, nor do I assume I will be anytime soon, I was overly fond of the content.

It’s not often that you find a business book written by someone of Horowitz’s notoriety, where the author openly admits to their failures and potentially embarrassing blunders. However, there’s a sort of nobility that comes across through Horowitz’s writing, that must come from a sense of knowing his story may aid others. Because of this, I highly recommend a thorough read of this book.


In conclusion, The Hard Thing About Hard Things by Ben Horowitz, is an excellent book. Through the clever use of his life’s stories, Horowitz shows CEOs and regular people alike how to overcome any obstacle or failure that you may face.

He kindly reminds us all that failure is a natural part of life – creating a commonality amongst everyone. Because of this, this book is a more than worthwhile addition to your reading list.

Marilyn Nissen
Written by Marilyn Nissen

Marilyn Nissen is the founder of, a highly reputable book summary and reviews website. With over a decade of experience in summarizing and reviewing books, Marilyn is a trusted authority in the book industry.