Book Review May 2006
Is Self-Employment for You? Anyone Can Start a Business … Only a Few Can Sustain a Business
Author: Paul E. Casey
Publisher: Hara Publishing Group Inc., 2004
Reviewed by Soroya Brantley
At some point in our lives, most of us have found ourselves stuck in a 9-to-5 job dreaming about how different life would be if we were the boss instead of an employee. And how many times have you seen an entrepreneur featured on television or in a magazine and thought that could be me? Well, before you quit your job and branch out on your own, be sure to read Paul E. Casey’s book Is Self-Employment for You? Anyone Can Start a Business … Only a Few Can Sustain a Business. It’s a book was for people who dream big but have never given serious thought to what realizing those dreams might entail.
The first thing to do, Casey suggests, is to honestly consider the reasons why you wish to start a business. What are your motivations? If self-employment appeals to you because you will be able to wake up late or lounge around in your pajamas, then you may want to reconsider. If you believe that self-employment puts you on the fast track to fortune, then you may end up disappointed and discouraged. Casey advises listing your five main reasons and using them as a guideline always. Consistency is key, so stay true to these original reasons, he says.
At the heart of Casey’s book are two basic premises: We are the sum total of our mind-set and our present and future lifestyle evolves from this mind-set. So what is this mind-set? It is simply the way you feel and think about things. It is, Casey argues, “the sum total of our emotional and personality traits … formed from experiences and behaviors learned during the course of our lifetimes.” Your mind-set will extend into your new business and likely will help determine its success or failure. For example, if you tend to quit when the going gets rough, or if you are easily disheartened, you may not be the best candidate for self-employment.
Remember that you will not be the only person affected by the switch to self-employment, Casey notes. If there is a spouse or children involved, they should be kept informed and allowed to be involved. This does not mean helping to run the business necessarily, but they must be aware that their lives will be affected by it, that sometimes money will not be readily available, that there may be a significant cut in spending for wants versus needs. Support and understanding are essential, and keeping loved ones informed makes it less likely that they will feel ignored or neglected as you concentrate on your new business.
Casey stresses that whereas a master’s degree in business is not a prerequisite for entrepreneurship, experience is critical. He devotes an entire chapter to capitalizing on your experience. Casey also focuses on the importance of marketing, of effectively promoting your business. He suggests that 7 percent to 10 percent of the business’s annual budget should go toward marketing, which includes everything from cold calls to e-mails to fliers. While there is no guarantee as to the type of marketing that will work for your particular company, Casey cites four basic principles of effective marketing: consistency, simplicity, target and execution.
Casey also discusses how to use good judgment to get positive results and earn the trust and respect of clients. Another chapter focuses on organization–how to manage time effectively, make effective sales calls and avoid being trapped by technology. Yet another focuses on the pitfalls of partnerships, suggesting that self-employment is best done solo.
Casey strives for simplicity throughout the book. This is no lofty tome. Instead, the information is laid out clearly and concisely and Casey gets to his points immediately. He provides specific questions for you to ask yourself in order to make sure that you have the correct motivation for self-employment. The same questions also help to convey the realities of self-employment, dispelling any misperceptions you may have formed. Casey also provides a list
of books for further reading and research, as well as a list of Web sites of consultants and other entrepreneurs.
Undoubtedly, this book is an invaluable source of information for the would-be entrepreneur. It is not a business guide. Rather, it is written from the author’s experience as a self-employed individual, providing down-to-earth, commonsense insights. So, instead of daydreaming at that 9-to-5, start reading and see whether self-employment is for you.