This is the fourth part of The Simple Dollar Book Club reading of What Color Is Your Parachute?, a seminal guide to your career. These entries appear weekly, each Monday afternoon, and you’re invited to read along. This entry covers chapters ten, eleven, and twelve in the 2008 edition (earlier editions are roughly similar). If you didn’t participate from the start, feel free to jump back to the first part, the second part, or the third part.
Chapter 10: How to Start Your Own Business
This is a pretty basic primer on things to think about before you start a small business. The biggest one, and the one that presents a road block for many people, is the fact that most small businesses earn less than a full time job elsewhere – it takes a lot of drive to really make it succeed.
Bolles also makes a strong case for having a backup plan. What will you do if the business doesn’t take off and you desperately need personal income? In my mind, this is exactly what temp work is appropriate for. A temporary office job doing things like filing papers is the perfect thing to find if you’re trying to get a small business started but you need short-term income.
Bolles is also a big fan of finding a mentor and consistently tapping that mentor for ideas and help as you try to get things started. It’s sometimes hard to find a mentor – my best tactic has usually been to find someone who is in the same area that I’m trying to get started in, but separate enough that we won’t be competitors (they work in a different specific niche or in a different locale).
Honestly, though, this is the weakest part of the entire book. If you’re interested in starting your own business, you’re much better off jumping into materials specifically about entrepreneurship.
Chapter 11: Entering the World of 50+
Mostly, this is a short paean that no matter how old you are, the best thing you can do is stay active, mentally and physically and spiritually. I can’t agree more with this statement: I actively put money into retirement, not so that I can start sitting in my rocking chair and wait for death to claim me, but so I can spend the later years of my life tackling some new challenges, free of the bondage of a boss and a nine to five day.
Chapter 12: How to Get “Unstuck”
There comes a time in everyone’s life (and maybe more than once) where we find ourselves wondering why we’re stuck. Why can’t we make any forward progress? What’s stopping us from moving forward?
Bolles argues that this usually happens when we begin to realize that some sort of change is needed in our life, but we’re afraid to make that change. Quite often, if we’re making that realization, it’s a sure sign that we really do need to make the change, but we’re held into place by the parts of ourselves that resist change – the “safekeeping” parts of ourselves.
One sure sign of your “safekeeping” self is that you’re listing lots of reasions why you shouldn’t do something, even though when you concentrate on it, there are many positive and compelling reasons for doing it. To an extent, I find myself doing this whenever I look at a writing career.
The solutions? Realize that you’re doing it, start doing research on the changes that are needed, and listen to music, particularly classical music (for brain activity purposes – seriously). That last one seemed sort of crazy at first, but I thought about it – I tend to be creative when I’m listening to music, but I tend to do repetitive, ordered tasks much better when I’m not. There is a connection there.
Next week, we’re going to dig into the thirteenth chapter and do the infamous flower exercise. This appears on pages 239 to 250 in the 2008 edition – yes, only twelve pages in a week. That’s because the flower exercise is pretty intense – I plan to work through it next week, and I hope you’ll give it a shot, too.