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Book Review:

Why Aren't You Your Own Boss? by Paul and Sarah Edwards and Peter Economy

Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: Three Rivers Press; 1st edition (March 25, 2003)
ISBN: 0761515372
Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.5 x 0.7 inches
Reviewed by Elizabeth H. Cottrell

There are few - if any - business experts as focused on, or as knowledgeable about, home-based business and self employment as Paul and Sarah Edwards. Between their books, TV shows, radio shows, and personal appearances, they have interviewed hundreds, perhaps thousands, of self-employed people in every imaginable field. They have seen what works, what doesn't work, and everything in between. They've even become self-employed entrepreneurs themselves. In combination with business writer Peter Economy, Associate Editor for Leader to Leader magazine, no one is in a better position to write a book called Why Aren't You Your Own Boss? and subtitled Leaping Over the Obstacles That Stand Between You and Your Dream.

If you have already started your own home business and have pretty much got it up and running, this is not a book you need to read (though there are several other books by these authors that might give you a boost towards your goals). If, however, you've dreamed and planned - thought and discussed - even begun by getting a Tax identification number or a business license - but are not yet what anyone could construe as "up and running," this is a must-read.

The book begins with a sensible disclaimer: "We're not going to pretend that everyone is cut out for self-employment." There is an interesting questionnaire to help you determine whether you might be one of those who shouldn't even consider self-employment. There is also a helpful worksheet to help you determine what areas might be causing you to be stuck and seemingly unable to get going. The rest of the book provides evaluation and therapeutic tools and strategies for "getting past the buts, without your having to change who you are or your values or intentions, [so you can turn] your dreams into reality."

The authors begin by addressing those who don't know what steps to take first. They approach this by working through three key questions:

1) What kind of business should I start?
2) Who will pay me to do what I want to do? and
3) How can I start with what I've got?

For each, they provide stimulating questions and ideas to help you begin to get a clearer understanding of the possibilities for you in self-employment. They address common obstacles, concerns, and issues and give suggestions on how to handle them.

Next the authors address an even more common group of people - those who know what they need to do (or think they do) but can't get themselves going for any of a variety of reasons - not enough money, not enough time, not enough confidence, not enough support from family, fear of failure, etc. Taking these one by one, they offer very specific, very practical antidotes to the problems along with real-life examples of folks who have "been there, done that" and lived to tell the tale.

Two entire chapters are devoted to "hang-ups." This is fascinating, and I challenge anyone to read it without recognizing something in themselves in these pages. We ALL have hang-ups . . . everything from being easily distracted, emotionally volatile, unnecessarily anxious, bad about procrastinating, bad about making excuses, unwilling to make sacrifices, unable to prioritize, or wanting something for nothing. The authors help you determine what your hang-ups are and provide prescriptions (action plans) for getting over them. It should be no surprise that Procrastination is a "biggie" and it is dealt with creatively and positively.

Toward the end, there is an excellent chapter for those with REAL problems such as a physical disability, an antagonistic or unsupportive family, or limited education (several more challenges are also covered). In their typical "can do" style, the authors discuss options, resources, and strategies for handling various difficult situations. They wrap up by declaring that the most important attribute for a successful self employed entrepreneur is having the "Completion Gene" - they define this as "the habit based on psychological need to follow through on what you start and see it to the end - whether it be preparing a proposal, doing a project for a client, or seeing a business through its up and down cycles." They discuss how to cultivate this habit if you weren't born with it.

Two great features that are common in anything written by Paul and Sarah Edwards are 1) LOTS of real-life examples and personal stories to illustrate the various instructions, and 2) an "Our Bias" section in each part of the book in which the authors - after giving you lots of choices - tell you their preferred approach or solution or action step for the topic at hand. I particularly appreciate the fact that they never try to act like this is an easy process. In fact, they clearly are of the opinion that many people can't get going because they're unwilling to take the time up front to think through the important issues and develop a workable plan. Those are the ones who are so busy blaming circumstances and other people instead of taking action that they never become successful.

The underlying strength of this book comes from the clear message that there is unlikely to be anyone who hasn't experienced - and overcome - the same obstacles that you, the reader, are facing yourself. There is tremendous power and encouragement in this message, especially if you're feeling like you need something to get you out of your rut and help you move more steadily towards success as a self-employed entrepreneur.

2004 by Elizabeth H. Cottrell. All rights reserved worldwide.
Elizabeth H. Cottrell is a home-based entrepreneur, freelance technical writer, and owner of Riverwood Technologies, a desktop publishing company in Maurertown, Virginia. She is currently a staff writer and editor for IAHBE.  Recommended books






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