The subtitle of Mark Henricks' new book is irresistible: The Complete Guide to Creating a Business that Gives You a Life. Isn't that what we all want? Sure, fabulous wealth would be nice, but experts agree that 90 percent of small business owners aren't hoping to become the next Bill Gates. Instead, Henricks says in Not Just a Living (Perseus, $25, 256 pages, ISBN 0738206652), most are lifestyle entrepreneurs. BookPage turned to the author for a definition of this term and advice on making your start-up dream a reality.
BookPage: What is a lifestyle entrepreneur? Mark Henricks: Lifestyle entrepreneurs are people who have gone into business primarily for lifestyle reasons, as opposed to a desire to get filthy rich. They become business owners so they can live where they want, work when they want, spend time with the people they want and do the kind of work they want. They work hours that let them tend to children or aging parents, indulge in hobbies or social causes or simply relax.
How is Not Just a Living different from a typical business start-up manual? How-to books for entrepreneurs generally assume that the primary goal of the entrepreneur is to grow fast and grow big. Lifestyle motivations for business ownership are presented as scarcely legitimate, if that it's often suggested that owning a business means you don't have a life outside work. Not Just a Living dismantles those myths and reveals what the overwhelming majority of business owners are really after, and how to get it.
What's the biggest fear holding people back? The ultimate nightmare is that the business will go bust and leave them unemployed, broke and humiliated. That's not a pleasant scenario, to be sure, but it's not as likely as it seems either. Most businesses, contrary to popular perception, survive for several years and leave their owners richer than when they started.
With the current economic upheaval, is now a good time or a bad time to become a lifestyle entrepreneur?Business start-ups generally increase during slow economies. The main reason is that people start businesses because it's harder to find a job in those times. But there are advantages to starting during down times. Rent is cheaper and good employees are easier to find, for instance. A business employing just a few people can prosper in good times and bad. The real issue is personal: You get one life; when are you going to start looking for a way to live it the way you want to? As far as I'm concerned, the best time for that is right now.
Books to inspire budding entrepreneurs The editors of Victoria magazine know how to make owning A Shop of One's Own look appealing (Hearst, $24.95, 223 pages, ISBN 1588161048). They cover all the basics getting started, planning for success, dealing with people then inspire you with the stories of savvy businesswomen like Ina Garten (Barefoot Contessa) and Mary Carol Garrity (Nell Hill's) who created warm, inviting retail spaces. Much like their previous release The Business of Bliss, this book is filled with Quick Tips (customers should pass your store going home rather than going to work) and gorgeous photographs of the 48 shops included.
Double Lives: Crafting Your Life of Work ∧ Passion for Untold Success by David Heenan shares the stories of modern-day renaissance men and women who weren't satisfied with just one outlet for their passions. Throwing out the conventional wisdom that you must specialize in only one area, Heenan introduces 10 people who led double lives and pursued a second (or a third) interest to greater personal fulfillment. Chapters on Winston Churchill (statesman, author, painter), Norio Ohga (Sony chairman, opera singer, symphony conductor) and Tess Gerritsen (doctor, best-selling author) illustrate Heenan's 20 keys to creating your own double life.
If you still think you don't have what it takes to start your own business, then Kitchen Table Entrepreneurs by Martha Shirk and Anna Wadia is required reading (Westview, $26, 352 pages, ISBN 0813339103). Meet 11 determined women who escaped poverty by starting a hot dog stand, an auto parts store and an Indian crafts business, among other enterprising ideas. You'll be inspired by their stories even as you learn from their mistakes. Don't miss the small business resources listed in the appendix.