Several years ago, I made the transition from working for a multi-level corporation to working for myself. And while not having a boss felt like a relief… it quickly became apparent that working for myself would be a far greater challenge.
The truth is every solopreneur’s greatest obstacle is him/herself. The increased responsibility brings one’s doubts, fears and limiting beliefs to the surface and suddenly managing a business becomes a lot less about strategy and lot more about personal development.
So to save you a few steps (and the unnecessary overwhelm), I’ve created a list of “non-business” books that have been more like trusted allies on my solopreneurship journey. I hope they serve you as they’ve served me….
1. The Subtle Art of Not Giving A F*ck by Mark Manson
One of my favorite bloggers, hands down, is Mark Manson. Yes, he uses salty language. No, we do not share the same worldviews on everything. But if there’s one guy whose blog I read over and over again for life advice, it’s Mark’s. This book is based off one of his most popular blog posts (same title), which (if you can handle the language) I highly recommend. If you can chew the meat and spit out the bones, it’s well worth a read. That post is, hands down, the one post I’ve most shared with my friends.
Here’s the thing about solopreneurship … it’s an emotional roller coaster. The highs are blissfully high and the lows are dreadfully low. More often than not, we are told to “think positive”, but Manson’s no-nonsense advice cuts straight to the core. He encourages us to embrace our fears, faults and uncertainties. To understand our own limitations and sit in the discomfort long enough to flex our muscles of courage, perseverance and radical forgiveness. It’s the slap-you-across-the-face reality check that pulls you off the pity path and propels you into action.
2. The War of Art by Steven Pressfield
I received my copy of this book from Michael Hyatt. At one of his conferences, he gave copies to all the attendees, and I’ve since given away dozens myself. When embarking on this journey solo, you’re bound to encounter that familiar friend Pressfield refers to as “Resistance.”
You know Resistance well. He shows up uninvited at the most inconvenient times (likely in the form of procrastination or writer’s block) and throws a few forks in the road that will get you second guessing your destination. Luckily, Pressfield guides us through the path to breakthrough these barriers with greater clarity and an appreciation for the creative process.
3. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
Okay, so I don’t win any points for originality on this one.I first read this book when working as an SAT tutor. I saw it on the shelves of the academy where I was teaching and read it while students were working.
While the fiction classic has become somewhat of a cliché for encouraging others to follow their dreams, it still illustrates some of the best advice I’ve ever received: embrace fear, work with the end in mind, learn through taking action, don’t compare yourself to others, and maintain enthusiasm.
4. Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman
One of the challenges in being a one-person show is understanding which side of yourself is actually running the show. Kahneman suggests two possibilities: the fast, intuitive, and emotional side or the slow, deliberative, and logical side.
I’m a strange mix of both. Tapping into the benefits of each has been revolutionary in shifting how I make decisions in my own life and business. Kahneman’s insights provide a framework that protect against the mental snafus that keep us stuck.
5. Steal Like an Artist by Austin Kleon
It’s been said that to steal from one is considered plagiarism. To steal from many is considered research. There’s nothing that puts imposter syndrome to sleep quite like knowing that every artist and entrepreneur is “copying” someone else.
Savor the feeling of relief! This book offers the permission you’ve been waiting for to stop trying to re-invent the wheel. As Kleon puts it, “You don’t need to be a genius, you just need to be yourself.”