According to my DISC personality type, I’m one who love to follow the rules. And this is quite accurate. If we have the rule in place, then I do think everyone should follow it, but that is more about my desire for fairness than a love of rules. Most of the time, I’d be just as happy to get rid of the rule if it’s not helpful or people aren’t going to bother to follow it. However, in my usual contradictory manner, my MBTI personality type tends to be too independent for most business cultures because I like the freedom to do things my own way. (It’s no wonder I can be so conflicted! I want everyone to follow the rules, AND I want to get rid of the rules.)
As I’ve been reading through the many entrepreneurial business books that I found at the library, I’m discovering that the ones that appeal to me the strongest are those that encourage throwing out much of the standard business advice and doing things my own way. I guess that’s my underlying rebel heart showing through since running my business my own way is no longer an issue of fairness to anyone else—I’ll just not make any rules!
I’ve already talked about Barbara J. Winter’s Making a Living Without a Job, revised edition: Winning Ways for Creating Work That You Love in my Joyfully Jobless post and Michael Michalowicz’s The Toilet Paper Entrepreneur: The tell-it-like-it-is guide to cleaning up in business, even if you are at the end of your roll in my Authenticity post. Both of these books advocated running small businesses in ways that defy the usual business expectations. Winter’s book, in particular, opened my mind to whole new ways of thinking of making of living that fit the way I want to live better than anything else I’ve ever considered. That book has given me the confidence and encouragement I needed to even think about going it alone.
I also recently read Career Renegade: How to Make a Great Living Doing What You Love by Jonathan Fields. While he follows a bit of a more traditional path than Winter does, he is still a strong advocate of doing things differently to turn whatever one’s passion is into a way to make a good living. He advocates thinking outside the box to find ways to succeed in whatever area your passion lies. For him, being a career renegade is really about thinking differently, about approaching everything you do with an entirely different mindset than the usual business mindset. How freeing! He provides lots of good tips and resources for avenues to explore for developing your ideas, your business, and your market. One of the things I loved about this book is that he uses his own experiences—both successes and failures—as examples for the principles he talks about. There is something about reading someone else’s experience in detail that is encouraging to me. It helps to put the ideas into concrete terms that I can then apply directly to my own situation.
The other book I just finished is Rework by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson, the founders of 37Signals. While 37Signals is more of a standard company than what I want to do with employees and a location, the way they run their business is significantly outside the norm for the business world—and these differences are thoughtfully intentional and successful! This book describes their basic business philosophy, why they make the choices they do, and how these choices benefit them. Their philosophy fits well with many of my observations about business over the years—both in the corporate world and in start-ups. Bigger really isn’t always better, standard business practices (meetings, constant interruptions, etc.) are not productive, and complexity is seldom a good thing. This book is a quick and easy read, but every page is filled with concrete ideas of ways to do things better by doing them differently.
The thought of leaving the “safety” of working for someone else for working on my own is still terrifying. I still panic multiple times a day as I consider this option, but I find myself so much more excited about the prospect of being able to make a living doing things I love MY way now that I know such a thing is possible. These alternative philosophies and ways of doing things fit me so much better than the standard business models I’ve read about in the past. This gives me hope that I can create a model for me that I can not only live with but enjoy and be successful with!