Harry Potter And . . .

. . . the trials of growing a business . . . the rewards of independence and ownership. Behind the magic and the mystery hides an entrepreneurial tale. Join the initiated and learn what Harry has to say about doing business.

If you're like us at Entrepreneur, and like millions of children and adults around the world, you're not only a fan of the Harry Potter books-you're a fan in withdrawal. It looks like the next book in the series, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, might not hit bookstores until 2002, and the first movie won't be released until November. You have two options: Go insane, or read this article.

Like many entrepreneurs, Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling started in humble digs and with big dreams. "She had to retype the entire manuscript for the [first] book because she couldn't afford to have it photocopied," notes Jeff Blackman, a business growth specialist in Glenview, Illinois, and author of Result$ (Successories). "Now, more than 30 million [Harry Potter] books have been sold. It's a remarkable testament to [her] persistence and passion."

Rowling studied French and literature, not business, in college. But she worked for several years at the Chamber of Commerce in Manchester, England. Perhaps something rubbed off, because young Potter can teach us a lot about running our own businesses.

We're not making this up. Even The Wall Street Journal ran a story about how business Muggles are embracing the books, referring to e-mails as owls and ATMs as Gringotts. (Confused by that sentence? Consult "Potter Mouth.") Of course, because the Harry Potter books are ostensibly for children, some of the hidden and not-so-hidden business lessons may seem basic. But, like all eternal truths, it's a good idea to revisit them occasionally. So get your milk and cookies, pull up a chair, and let's read a story . . .

Book One: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
Book Two: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
Book Three: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
Book Four: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire


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Geoff Williams has written for numerous publications, including Entrepreneur, Consumer Reports, LIFE and Entertainment Weekly. He also is the author of Living Well with Bad Credit.

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This article was originally published in the February 2001 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Harry Potter And . . ..

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