Your book, The Anti 9 to 5 Guide, is targeted specifically at women. Do you think that women need more help in being freelancers or starting their own businesses?
No, I don’t think women need more help striking out on their own. In fact, women start businesses at twice the rate of men. But generally speaking, women and men don’t always view self-employment and flex work the same way: Studies show that women are the ones gravitating toward flex work arrangements the most, probably because we’re still the primary child and elder care givers in society. Also, women generally have a harder time talking money, negotiating contracts, and taking business risks, so I thought a book that speaks directly to them about these topics was needed.
Also, my publisher, Seal Press, only does books geared toward women, so that was pretty much a requirement of working with them. Men can certainly get a lot out of the book, too, and I am getting my fair share of emails from guys who’ve loved the book.
What are some of the most common mistakes women make when they decide to quit their jobs and start a business?
Spending too much money on equipment, supplies, and consultants they don’t need right off the bat. Working in a vacuum rather than finding other independent professionals to bounce ideas off of, share war stories with, and help them feel less isolated. Failing to sufficiently research the market they’re getting into. Not being realistic about how much money they need to keep the business afloat and a roof over their head. Not having any money saved or a fallback income. Signing bad contracts with clients and not educating themselves about what makes a good contract. Not keeping set business hours, which usually translates into working round the clock. I could go on and on…
There have been many articles written recently about most successful entrepreneurs being young – in their 20s and 30s. Is your book targeted at this group or do you think older people with established careers and greater financial responsibilities might benefit from your advice as well?
I think the book appeals to both populations. People under 40 aren’t willing to work themselves silly for some soulless corporation like their parents were. We’ve seen the 90s dotcom bust, we’ve seen the Enrons come crashing down, and we certainly don’t want to find ourselves the next corporate casualty. Since job security is basically a historical footnote, twenty- and thiry-somethings have less to lose by hanging their own shingle and putting their own quality of life before some employers’ needs.
But a lot of older women tell me they’re digging the book, too. Some are burnt out in their careers and sick of helping someone else get rich. Others are approaching retirement age and looking for a new project and income stream. And some are empty nesters who had kids at a pretty young age and are now asking “What do I want to be when I grow up?” for the first time in their lives.