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The 7 Secret Keys
to Startup Success
What You Need to Know to Win
By David J. Muchow
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Finally, a new kind of business startup book—packed full of practical advice plus essential legal information you really need but don’t get in business school or anywhere else!
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A must-have for every aspiring entrepreneur, small business owner, startup incubator, student, and for business and law schools.
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The 7 Secret Keys has more of the critical business and legal advice you need to succeed – whether you’re starting a company or want to supercharge an existing one. It shows you step-by-step how to succeed, from raising capital to marketing, planning, and more. It’s packed with tips, model forms, and practical information you can’t get elsewhere.

Buy Now!

Published by Skyhorse
Distributed by Simon & Schuster






New York Times Best Selling Author, Byron Dorgan

“This trailblazing book is packed with the critical business and legal information you need to succeed and is lots of fun as well.” 

Arc, Elizabeth Jia

“An Instant classic! This is the one book every startup and growing business should have! David Muchow’s an award-winning legal and business expert-and his legal examples read like a John Grisham novel!”

Branko Terzic, Management Consultant; former public company CEO

“This is the new Bible for entrepreneurs and growing businesses! No other single reference is as comprehensive or useful in practice.”

Kirkus Reviews, Blue Star Award

“An expert offers a comprehensive overview of how to achieve startup success.”

“This is not your uncle’s or aunt’s business book,” writes startup veteran Muchow in this work, which, he promises, “breaks the mold by providing more of the essential, practical, legal, and business information that growing businesses need to succeed.” He covers the basics of incorporating, dividing equity among partners, compensating workers, and raising capital while observing Securities and Exchange Commission regulations. He breaks down these basics under seven broad headings, from planning your startup and finding the right partners to carefully assessing early risks, giving due importance to intellectual property (convincingly described by the author as an essential key to startups), and dealing with workers and managing sales and marketing. Winningly, Muchow illustrates each of these discussions with fictionalized dramatizations—this is a business book with a novel’s amount of dialogue, and here the author is playing to his strength. His scenarios very effectively bring the complexities of his main points to life. He also helps this along with charts and bullet points designed to make the huge amount of information he’s dispensing more digestible. “Your startup’s like a car,” he writes. “You, the entrepreneur, are the driver, the shareholders are the passengers, and money built the car and fuels it.” Basic nuts-and-bolts summations like this one run throughout the volume, very much enhancing the pervasive feeling of an experienced older colleague taking readers aside for confidential chats about routes to follow and pitfalls to avoid. Muchow opens his book by pointing out how vital startups and entrepreneurs have been to the American business world. He then expertly balances broader insights with useful, granular operational tactics on the organizational, legal, and ideological levels of a new company.

A briskly written, valuable, and confident guide to gaining success in a startup business.”

Quick Review Verdict: “Get it.” 

Midwest Book Review, D. Donovan

Senior Reviewer and/or D. Donovan, Editor, Donovan's Literary Services.

“From understanding and protecting intellectual property to legally managing money and avoiding liability in the process of building a new business, David J. Muchow tackles the kinds of hard development questions that many competing business books skim over. He also takes a more comprehensive view of the startup process than many books in the field, that tend to concentrate on the usual subjects like marketing and finance. Perhaps this is because Muchow brings decades of practical and broad experience to a wide range of subjects, being a serial CEO, corporate lawyer, inventor, investor, former prosecutor, and a faculty member for Law, Business, and Entrepreneurship at Georgetown University.

Another difference lies in the book's adventure component, unusual in a business title. Like Rich Dad, Poor Dad, it’s entertaining to read, with a continuing adventure story after each chapter that illustrates the principles in the chapter. The adventure involves Professor Scooter Magee, who travels around in his classic Austin Healey convertible fixing troubled startups.  Along the way Scooter fights off mob figures and falls under the spell of a mysterious femme fatale. Think: Professor Harrison Ford in Raiders of the Lost Ark meets Silicon Valley.

The 7 Secret Keys to Startup Success does not guarantee startup success. It does identify common pitfalls and how to avoid them to lead a business from uncertainty onto rock-solid ground. Entrepreneurs contemplating a new startup, and business libraries catering to them, will find The 7 Secret Keys to Startup Success: What You Need to Know to Win just the right blend of specific instruction and overall advice on how to tailor a winning proposal and foster it to fruition.” 

Authority Magazine, The Business Side of Law, Eric Pines

Most startups run out of time and money in a year or two, and the inventions fail to cross the “Startup Grand Canyon”— the huge chasm between an idea and a financially viable business and end up in the “Valley of Death,” the place where companies die by running out of money before they cash flow positive.

Eight out of ten new business fail, but surprisingly too little attention has been paid to why that is. Think of the tremendous economic loss to our country. We could have had thousands more Bill Gates or Steve Jobs, but those potential businesses have been lost. So …“The 7 Secret Keys to Startup Success,” identifies the causes of these failures and proposed a Federal moonshot – an action plan to allow entrepreneurs to go from an idea to commercialization in months, not years.

Georgetown University, Webinar Interview with David Muchow,

By Ruchika Nijhara, PhD, MBA, CLP, Vice President, Office of Technology Commercialization, Nov. 15, 2022.

“The 7 Secret Keys to Startup Success and How to Avoid Business Failure.” David Muchow’s new book provides  practical business and legal information to take startups and growing companies step-by-step through what they need-to-do and never-to-do to be successful. It covers the necessary information like marketing, raising money, and management, plus material not available elsewhere, and legal tips and model forms.  And it’s fun to read. It’s like Rich Dad Poor Dad for growing companies. To illustrate the principles in the book, after each chapter there’s an exciting adventure story involving Professor Scooter Magee of Georgetown University who fixes broken startups. Think: Professor Harrison Ford in Raiders of the Lost Arc meets Silicon Valley!” 

The Doug Wagner Show, Doug Wagner, iHeart Radio, WMT News Radio,

Interviews David J. Muchow, author of The 7 Secret Keys to Startup Success, on how to avoid Startup Suicide. Nov. 9, 2022. 

Doug: “Listen in and learn how to avoid startup suicide. This [book] reads like a novel, not like a business book, which is really kind of cool.  it’s like you’re sitting there in the middle of the room watching these characters go at it. This book is going to be good! You’re helping business people!”

The Kim Pagano Show, AM 1650 KVTA, Interview with David Muchow, Nov. 10, 2022.

“The 7 Secret Keys to Startup Success” is the one book every entrepreneur and growing company should have. David Muchow, an award-winning, thirty-year serial entrepreneur and lawyer, who teaches Law, Business, and Entrepreneurship at Georgetown University, gives you practical business advice and legal tips covering every aspect of entrepreneurship. It includes all the basics of building and growing a business—management, fundraising, marketing, intellectual property, and risk management—plus much more.

Cornell University, Cornellians Magazine. Interview by Beth Saulnier, Editor.

I Have a Great Idea for a Startup. Now What Do I Do? The author of a new practical guide offers tips on parlaying your brainstorm into a viable business.

“David Muchow, GR ’66–’68, has spent decades as an attorney, entrepreneur, investor, and consultant. Now, he has channeled that experience into a hands-on guide: The 7 Secret Keys to Startup Success. It covers a host of practical dos and don’ts—from creating a business plan and courting investors to managing risk and safeguarding intellectual property.”

Forbes Contributor, Author and Independent Management Consultant Professional, Steve Denning

David Muchow's The Secret Keys to Startup Success is a useful guide to newly formed startups and even established companies. It highlights the areas that are often overlooked in the haste to get a business going for the first time and carts tend to be placed before the horse in a rush to get product to market. The book is well structured, the language is clear and comprehensive. The first three chapters are a step by step description of essential legal, organizational decisions faced when incorporating a new business. Presented with a good dose of common sense, the knowledge can save startup promoters many headaches by having all the paperwork in order from the beginning. Topics include: how to select a core team, set up a board of directors, a compensation system, secure protection of

The book provides aspiring entrepreneurs the elements to walk safely in the startup minefield and liberate time to concentrate on growing the startup. Worth a look!, Michaela Althouse

Entrepreneurial expert David Muchow just released a book on startup success — with a twist. As a business lawyer and former entrepreneur, DC’s David Muchow encounters a lot of the same questions every day. Questions like: “Should I incorporate in Delaware?” “How do I fire an employee without the worry of a lawsuit?” “How can I protect my intellectual property?” “But in my practice as a corporate lawyer, handling a lot of entrepreneurs and startup matters, I found it was a huge disconnect between the kinds of questions I get every day from entrepreneurs, and the types of books and resources that are out there.”

So, the managing partner of the corporate law firm MuchowLaw decided to do something about it by publishing his own unique book in September. “The 7 Secret Keys to Startup Success” is a 327-page practical guide to both the business and legal aspects of building a startup. It’s currently available at several bookstores and as an e-book. “The 7 Secret Keys to Startup Success” draws from Muchow’s career, which he said has included working in startups and entrepreneurship for 30 years.

This is Muchow’s fifth published book. ”For this one, he decided to do something different to engage readers. This book features a fictional character named Scooter Magee (taken from a former nickname of Muchow’s son), a professional at Georgetown University (where Muchow also teaches) who travels around in a 1962 Austin-Healey convertible (the same car Muchow had as a kid) fixing troubled startups. In between mix-ups with the CIA and other entities, each chapter deals with substantive legal and business matters. All in all, it’s a bit “Raiders of the Lost Ark” meets Silicon Valley, Muchow said.

Through Scooter’s adventures, readers will learn about such basics of building and growing as management, fundraising, marketing and intellectual property.

“It just makes it a lot more fun to read,” Muchow said of the narrative format. “This is probably the only business book that has a color picture of The Tombs, a famous restaurant at Georgetown, in it, as well as charts on intellectual property issues.”

With his new book, Muchow hopes that both brand-new companies and growing ones will find something to learn. Through the lessons, he wants companies to understand the key things they need to focus on and avoid common mistakes that lead to many startups’ demise. He said that he kept the content as practical as he could, with plenty of client stories as examples. “And along the way, I hope that they enjoy the ride,” Muchow said. Entrepreneurial expert David Muchow just released a book on startup success - with a twist.

Cornellians, January 2023

Reads: The 7 Secret Keys to Startup Success

David Muchow, ’66–68

Muchow has spent decades as an attorney, entrepreneur, investor, and consultant; now, he has channeled that experience into a hands-on guide aimed at both aspiring startup founders and the leaders of existing firms. It covers a host of practical dos and don’ts—from creating a business plan and courting investors to managing risk and safeguarding intellectual property.

“Many business books deal with general information on management or ‘motivation,’”   Muchow writes. “That’s fine, but I’ve never had a client ask about motivation. Entrepreneurs are some of the most highly motivated people on the planet. Rather, they ask me about practical things like, ‘Should I incorporate in Delaware? How can I cut my legal fees and when do I need a non-disclosure agreement?’” The detailed advice is interspersed with a series of vignettes starring “Professor Scooter Magee,” a fictional startup expert who goes on adventures and solves business problems.

30+ Best Startup Books

30+ Best Startup Books for Entrepreneurs to Avoid Major Pitfalls, New Age Startup Entrepreneurship Books by Arsaian Saji, The 7 Secret Keys to Startup Success

  • Author: David J. Muchow – Managing Partner at Muchowlaw
  • Category: New-age Startup Entrepreneurship
  • Page count: 368
  • Key takeaway:

How to legally shake the money tree, choose the smarter road to market your business, and reduce overall startup chaos?

Read The 7 Secret Keys to Startup Success and you’ll get all the challenges tackled under the guidance of an award-winning corporate lawyer, David J. Muchow. He speaks about the following aspects:

  • Step-by-step startup plan
  • Intellectual property protection
  • Risk management
  • Funding cycles
  • Personnel management
  • Marketing and sales strategy, and more


Manager’s review

Todd Saunders, General Manager at BIG Safety:

“It’s one of the new books on entrepreneurship for startup owners and leaders, specifically designed for those who want to learn how to set up a business from scratch in the modern era. David Muchow walks you through every single detail in business management: from creating a board of directors to trademarks and patents to workplace safety and beyond. He also mentions legal documents needed for each stage. For example, Jumpstart Our Business Startups (JOBS) Act, Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) rules, or Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations.”