A handful of work-related books have come my way lately, offering help for the current or wannabe “solopreneur.” The best of the bunch is Kimberly Palmer’s “The Economy of You: Discover Your Inner Entrepreneur and Recession-Proof Your Life.” The senior money editor for U.S. News & World Report, Palmer isn’t immune to financial fears.
That’s because although she and her husband both have traditional jobs, they also have two kids and are staring at the same fears a lot of us face: Life is getting more expensive and no one is immune to layoffs. (Ask me how I know.)
So she started her own Etsy store, Palmer’s Planners, in the hopes of being able eventually to work for herself, at her own pace. “It was really about so much more than money. I wanted to be in control of my life,” she writes.
In sharing her story and those of other entrepreneurs, Palmer suggests ways for readers to come up with their own side-gig ideas, test the market for their service/product, meshing day jobs with extra work, keeping costs low, learning how to self-promote, reaching out to others for support and – perhaps most important of all – being ready to cope with setbacks or even outright failures.
But not to be stymied by those bummers. Side-giggers know that a rejection here and there “doesn’t mean their contributions are worthless…they take it as proof that they are trying something new and taking risks, some of which are bound to fail.”
Dream big, and dare to fail
The fear of failure might keep some people from even trying a new business or service. But according to Megan McArdle, failure is how we learn.
“The opposite of failure is not safety: It’s nothing,” says the author of “The Up Side of Down: Why Failing Well is the Key to Success.”
McArdle, a Bloomberg columnist, knows that too often we’re conditioned to avoid failure at all costs and then, if we do fail, to avoid thinking about it. Bad idea. Instead, we should be teaching ourselves to identify mistakes early and/or recognize when we’re on the wrong path. She quotes a CEO as saying “when most people look back on their successes, they realize they were a series of failures that allowed them to navigate to success.”
Her book is designed to help us become more resilient and – bonus! – to turn setbacks into “an opportunity to do something you might never have had the courage to do otherwise.” How many times have you heard some version of this story:
- Someone loses a job/gets divorced/goes broke, yet
- Ultimately comes out in a great place because of the windows that opened when what they saw as essential doors got closed.
(I identify with that one pretty strongly, as regular readers might have guessed.)
‘A life of passion’
What if you think you want to build a business, create a service, learn a skill or write the Great American Novel but you just can’t seem to get started? Motivational speaker and accountant Onyx Jones has seven steps for you – and yes, it really is best if you do all seven.
“(After) committing to following all seven steps, you will see improvement in your quality of life in just 30 to 90 days,” says Jones, author of “The Unofficial Guide to Achieving Your Goals.”
This slim paperback (66 pages) is designed to “motivate, inspire and provide you with tools for achieving your goals and living a life of passion.” It should be said right away that if you’re not the kind of person who likes following directions, this isn’t the book for you. Jones lays out the steps and expects you either to communicate regularly with a “goals partner” or else journal like mad. She also requires you to read books, make lists, and either meditate or communicate with God/a higher power.
But those of you who need a specific guide, or even just a virtual kick in the pants, should love this guide. It’s concrete, it’s friendly, it’s encouraging. Jones wants you to live the best possible version of you.
“The world has enough room for your success, my success and the success of everyone else who chooses to operate in a life filled with purpose and goals,” she says.
Pay taxes like a rich dude
Thinking about that side gig or full-fledged business? Good. It’s a great way to avoid tax disparities, according to former IRS agent Anthony Campidonica.
“All taxpayers…should have a small business to take advantage of the tax laws like the rich do,” says the author of “Outsmarting the System: Lower Your Taxes, Control Your Future and Reach Financial Freedom.”
This former IRS auditor urges people to take advantage of the tax benefits afforded to those who work for themselves, whether that’s as an entrepreneur, investor or landlord. Plenty of us don’t have a ton of investment capital weighing down our bank accounts. But as noted above, more and more U.S. citizens are starting to sell their products or services on the side.
Campidonica’s book is a good beginner’s guide to the advantages inherent in the system for the self-employed. As someone who recently became a limited liability corporation all I can say is, “Why the heck didn’t I do this years ago?” When I think about all the extra taxes I paid, I get a little cranky.
But McArdle is right: Failure is how we learn, and I’ve learned. I also take every opportunity to suggest (gently) that other freelancers incorporate in order to take advantage of the tax laws. So stay tuned, because in the near future all of these books will be featured in the weekly giveaways.
How about it, readers: Are you interested in becoming an entrepreneur, either part- or full-time? What kind of product or service would you sell?