Not Just a Living: The Complete Guide to Creating a Business That Gives You a Life (Anglais) Broché – 13 juin 2003
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Yet I was ambivalent even as I finally--if not hastily--took that classic "take-this-job-and-shove-it" plunge. I was happy to leave the maddening pace of corporate life behind. But I was petrified at the prospect of crafting a livelihood on my own. Reading "Not Just a Living" would have greatly eased my anxieties if it only were available all those years ago. As a firm believer in karma, I now feel compelled to share this excellent resource with anyone who's teetering on the brink of becoming a lifestyle entrepreneur.
Mark Henricks' concise, well-written book successfully targets two broad groups of entrepreneurs-in-waiting: Those who have entertained the thought of becoming their own boss yet need handholding before making that leap of faith; and those who are ready to make the move but seek a roadmap to achieve their vision. Both sets of readers will come away from the experience exceedingly satisfied and energized.
The book's particular strength is the author's liberal peppering of real world examples of small business successess...as well as failures. The latter is refreshing to see. After all, Mr. Henricks would have been negligent--not only as a journalist, but as a lifestyle entrepreneur "evangelist"--if he failed to expose the downsides of striking out on one's own. Not everyone is cut out for self-employment.
Finally, it is Mr. Henricks' candid sharing of his personal trials and tribulations along his road to lifestyle entrepreneurial success which lends absolute credence to "Not Just a Living." The lucky reader will be rewarded by a writer who knows of what he writes and expertly writes of what he lives.
Seven years later, we have grown into 10 stores with almost 100 full time employees and Healthy Options has become the leader in the natural products industry in the Philippines. As we celebrate our anniversary this month, I find Mark Henricks' book simply priceless and serendipitous. It's a timely reminder for me as to why we put up Healthy Options all those years ago. As a business grows and expands fast, it's very easy to get carried away and start thinking "corporate". At the beginning of this year, I started having mixed feelings and a bit lost as I kept asking myself, seven good healthy years, now what do I do? I'm therefore so thankful to have found the book as it reminded me why I went into business in the first place and it has re-focused my priorities. Thanks Mark. I find the Seven Myths of Small Business Ownership invaluable. And I fully agree that growth, while very important, shouldn't be the ultimate goal of an entrepreneur.
"Not Just A Living" is also a great benchmark for us. We did almost everything Mark Henrick said in the book (eventually) and got many things right (but not always the first time). I particularly feel vindicated about giving franchise (which I strongly feel against) when one of the entreprenuers related her sad experience about the uncontrollable franchisees she had which resulted in her going out of business.
All in all, it's an insightful and enjoyable read. Now I wish Mark Henricks would consider giving lectures about Lifestyle Entrepreneurship to spread the "gospel" even wider.
The most profound thought in the book is the "job security" thing: Henricks is a freelance writer, has been highly successful as such, and this is the way he sees day-job employment security, per se:
"'... Job security' is one of those phrases that, like `serious fun' and `exact estimate,' tries to combine incompatible concepts. The truth is, in general, there is no such thing as a really secure job ... Just ask the former employees of companies with longstanding no-layoff policies, such as IBM and Delta Airlines, who wound up getting laid off ... Let's consider the chances that I (Henricks), for example, am going to be laid off this week. In a typical year, about 20 percent of the people I worked for during the previous year stop working with me. Including brand-new customers I didn't work with a year earlier, I lose a client, on average, about once a month. So the chances I'll lose one this week are somewhere around one in four. But am I really insecure? Not really. Because after I lose that one client, I'll still have a dozen or so left. The chances may be good that a small measure of insecurity will visit me soon. But what are the chances that in one stroke I'll lose all my clients, the equivalent of an employee losing his one and only source of income? The chances are poor. It's never happened, or even come close to happening, and I don't expect it ever will ..."
Here's another quote:
"... Even more striking was the effect on my lifestyle. I've worked as many or as few hours as I deemed necessary. I attend virtually no meetings. My commute is measured in feet, not miles. I wear a tie so rarely that when I do, it often takes several tries to get the knot right. I've gotten paid for indulging my love of reading, as a book reviewer. I've been sent on fabulous travel adventures, all expenses paid. I receive, gratis, piles of high-tech gadgets from the companies that want me to consider their products in articles and books about technology trends. And I get paid to do all this. My lifestyle is part of, and is funded entirely by, my earnings as a **lifestyle entrepreneur** (a relatively new word in the freelance world)."
The general premise for Henricks' book is that freelancing - in whatever direction you happen to take it - does not have to be about starving to death (or worrying about paying the rent).
He details honorable freelance professions, entrepreneurship, and creating or purchasing small businesses - and talks about "joining the ranks of the 20 million American small and home-based business owners" that exist today.
He doesn't go into the mechanics of any particular profession - Henricks is a freelance writer - but his book isn't about writing. Rather, he talks about practical details that allow people to spend their lives doing something they enjoy outside of a corporate Dilbert-cubicle.
He talks about the business-stat Web sites that can fuel your business plan. The micro-business infrastructure. About "Picking your people" (if you need people). "Taming technology" (this is one of the most interesting twists I've seen yet on the subject of technology; a bit of a reality check). "Funding a lifestyle venture." "Recognizing your limits." "Growing without grief." "Forging ahead." And ... "Ending well." (The Ending Well section could very well be the most important section in the book, if you care about your family and what happens to them after your success.)
Henricks has written so many freelance articles about small businesses ... he can identify a small business model that will actually work.
To qualify that point, beginning on p. 103 he begins to list tables of information that contain examples of: Projected Cash Flow, Income Projection, and Pricing Your Product. Moreover, he goes on to characterize the tables with his knowledge of the basic, successful small-business plan: addressing profitability problems; identifying neat little tricks such as the "15 percent rule" (used for pricing services; p. 124); additionally tackling a tricky 80-20 Rule that involves the fact that "80 percent of your sales come from 20 percent of your customers" (how to turn that into more success; also on p. 124).
It doesn't matter if you're contemplating opening a small-scale cookie factory, purchasing a B&B, creating-from-scratch a local ironing service, opening an online store - or headed into the highlands to raise mountain goats -- Henricks' book is about successful small-business methods.
He also banishes work-at-home myths on everything from newspaper-advertisement/Internet "freelance business" scams such as the "$5,000 a Week Potential!" jobs; pyramid schemes; scams that require you to purchase inventory; and high-pressure sales tactics. The majority of these aren't freelance ventures. They're straight-up rip-offs.
If you've been toying with going full-up freelance for years, or a small-business idea, but are scared to take the plunge. If you have a keen desire or need to work out of the home. If you've heard or read about the "mystique of the freelance lifestyle." This is your "declaration of independence" (Henricks' words).
The book doesn't contain fluff. It's 230 pages packed with information about building a job around your home or lifestyle - and making enough money to enjoy all three.
It's a work of art. Valuable beyond words.
And ... you don't need to buy the "Pathfinder" as recommended above (unless, of course, you like your day job).
Part One of the book explains the difference between Lifestyle vs. Classic entrpreneurship and offers an alternative to those wishing to work for themselves, but without having to build a business.
Part's Two and Three covers such topics as getting started, funding, people and technology. For those that have read other entrepreneurial books, these topics have been covered before, but the author gives a concise treatment of each topic.
Finally, what makes this a good read is the author's writing style which is easy to read and concise, as demonstrated by the book length. The book should serve both as a first read on lifestyle entrpreneurship and reference manual to get started.
The questions Henricks poses, in my opinion, are far more important than any of the answers he provides. Years ago, Rod Steiger was asked if young people sought out his advice. "Oh yeah, sure, all the time. And I always ask them the same question: 'Do you want to be an actor or do you [in italics] have to be an actor?' The longer it takes them to answer that question, the less likely they'll ever make it." Not everyone feels compelled to create a business. Fair enough. But surely everyone can "undertake" to obtain more than a paycheck for their labors; to take prudent risks; in Tennyson's words, "to strive, to seek, to find" a higher, more fulfilling quality of life. How easy it is to become hostage to what Jim O'Toole characterizes as the "ideology of comfort and the tyranny of custom." Henricks urges his reader to free herself or himself from such confinement. It is no coincidence that, year after year, the most highly admired companies (e.g. Southwest Airlines) are also the most profitable. Each has a culture in which the "lifestyle entrepreneur" (Henricks' term) is strongly encouraged, not merely tolerated.
Who will derive the greatest benefit from this book? Those who now live unexamined lives of quiet desperation. Once having read this book, many of them may be unwilling and/or unable to free themselves from the "ideology of comfort and the tyranny of custom." But at least, thanks to Henricks, they will have completed a rigorous process of self-examination. Does he provide a map or a blueprint for personal fulfillment? No. Rather, he provides a mirror and a compass which, for many of his readers, will be of incalculable value.
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