Planning, Startups, Stories


Tim Berry on business planning, starting and growing your business, and having a life in the meantime.

My New Favorite Book: Escape From Cubicle Nation 1

You want this book: Escape from Cubicle Nation, by Pamela Slim. She’s been writing a great blog for several years, and now she’s put much of the soul of that blog into her new book, with the same name. You want it if you’re working for a company and thinking about going on your own. And you want it if you’re already on your own and thinking about working for a company. Or anywhere in between.

Pam starts with understanding how you got where you are, if you’re still in that company, and why it’s hard to jump. Her first section is “Opening Up to the Opportunities.” And she offers some seriously useful wisdom about that situation. These are just some selected quotes:

Employees who treat companies like old, loyal friends will die of heartbreak.

The larger organizations get, the greater their capacity for doing work that is not directly related to anything in the real world.

Next, “The Reality of Entrepreneurship.” Gulp. Covering how to actually do it, setting up your new business, which is also your new life. Specifically, practically, chapters on how to be self employed, marketing, business planning, your brand, and — here’s a great chapter title — “Test Often and Fail Fast: the Art of Prototypes and Samples.”

Which is great stuff, frankly, extremely valuable. And, to her credit, she leads you through all this without getting lost in it, or losing perspective on what really counts.

More quotes:

Life first, business second: If you don’t consider your life as a key part of your business model, you may find yourself outwardly successful and inwardly miserable.

I am convinced that the truly successful people, those who enjoy every part of their life and have financial stability, are very picky about where they spend their time and energy. So prune relentlessly.

Don’t trip if you don’t pick the perfect idea the first time. Really. Don’t.

Then a third section, “Make the Money Work,” faces the scary financial jump. “Look Your Finances in the Eye.” She talks about getting a clear picture of the current situation, tracking, clearing debt, reducing expenses, and — again the mix of practical tips with a broader view, suggestions like “let your fears guide you:”

Fears are not all bad! They can be a great way to ensure that your plan covers what it needs to. If you have a nagging fear about something that is not covered in your current plan, it is a good indication that you need to address it.

A fourth and final section called “Making the Leap” deals with the whole person, fears, family, what it takes to actually jump. Having been there myself, I can tell that Pam knows what she’s talking about. She offers sound real advice. For example, in this section:

Pay attention to your body. Tense muscles, stomach problems, anxiety, and trouble sleeping are all signs that you are trying too hard to control your creative impulses. Get back in touch with your body by exercising, meditating, and practicing deep breathing. This will reconnect you with your true voice that will tell you what you need to do to take care of yourself.

I don’t know if it is the same outside of the United States, but we schedule our kids like little executives. Parents frantically shuffle them between soccer, karate, and trombone lessons, play dates and extracurricular test preparation. The poor little tykes must carry electronic organizers and cell phones just to keep track of all the details of their overscheduled lives.

In short, this is a really good book about changing your life for the better. By going on your own. And making it.

  • Pingback: The Blog Week in Review – 4/30/09

  • Pingback: Small Business Trends’ Best Books 2009

  • J

    I can’t wait to get this book (Escape from Cubicle Nation)! I have been dreaming of entrepreneurship for a long time. I’ve started businesses without doing my homework. This time, I want to approach it the right way. If I’m going to work 50+ hours a week, taking work home with me, working on weekends, I might as well be doing it for myself and my family. I am grateful to have a job in this economy; however, I’m ready to use my gifts and talents to create wealth for me.