How This Ice Cream Entrepreneur Learned to Channel His Inner CEO

Note: This page will be continually updated as new episodes of Inc.‘s Book Smart podcast are released.

Launching a startup is hard. Building a growing–and self-sustaining–company might be even harder. 

Keith Schroeder knows this struggle well. In 2010, he founded Atlanta-based ice cream company High Road Craft Brands–and the first year, he says, was like a honeymoon. His early-stage excitement gave him just enough momentum to dedicate every moment of every day to the business. Then, the grind set in and it became more difficult to marshal such energy every day. That was a problem for his company, which had grown rapidly–but not rapidly enough for Schroeder to hire significant reinforcements.

At an event hosted by his graduate school, Kennesaw State University, Schroeder bumped into his MBA program’s director and explained his dilemma. The director recommended No Man’s Land: Where Growing Companies Fail, by entrepreneurship professor and business advisor Doug Tatum, which focuses on the problems founders face when their companies are too big to be considered small–and too small to be considered big.

On Tuesday, Schroeder joined me on the latest episode of Inc.‘s Book Smart podcast, where we explore the books beloved by prominent entrepreneurs, founders, and notable figures across the spectrum of industry. No Man’s Land immediately changed High Road’s trajectory, Schroeder says: It helped him better frame his company’s financial situation to investors, and made him realize that he needed to step up as a leader.

That’s because growing a company often demands a different skillset than launching a startup–and Schroeder doesn’t want to be replaced as CEO. “We have used that as an internal challenge,” he says. “We don’t want to change the management team–we really love each other and enjoy working with each other. We have to be constantly reinventing ourselves.”

To learn how, listen in the player below, or wherever you get your podcasts–and check out our archive of previous episodes. If you like what you hear, subscribe to Book Smart and leave us a review.

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