Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Best Book for Women Entrepreneurs: Birthing the Elephant: The Woman's Go-for-it! Guide to Overcoming the Big Challenges of Launching a Business

"Change can be daunting, but the status quo can be worse." – Birthing the Elephant

Looking at the cover of Birthing the Elephant: The Woman’s Go-for-it! Guide to Overcoming the Big Challenges of Launching a Business (2008) did not prepare me for the influence it would have in my life.

Finally! Someone wrote a business book with guts! Finally someone had the courage to say out loud "Launching your own business will take its toll on your bank account, your self esteem, and your family." They didn't gloss over the mistakes people make in business as if it is expected and so trivial that the mistakes only merit a few paragraphs.

The authors of this little book, Karin Abarbanel and Bruce Freeman, seem to have been following me around in my head for the last three years while I helped my husband launch and stabilize his business and explored and launched my own. They described the ups and downs of business as stages. Hearing that they were stages was comforting to me – that means that what I am feeling now has an end point, a transcendence point. What a relief!

They spoke about how when you leave your job or career to start a new business you need to grieve this change because it is a loss. Even if you were excited to leave your job, it is still a loss and the loss will never be more keenly felt than when you experience struggles in your business. If you do not recognize and deal with the loss of a steady paycheck, an organization that brings in leads, orders the staples, and provides a supportive social network before your own business hits a snag, then romanticized memories of how good your previous career was will distract you from the real problems and the real reasons you decided to set out on your own in the first place.

They also said that turning to the job want ads when your business is struggling will lead to confusion. A job is a different path and requires different thought processes. Looking for a job during tough entrepreneurial times, can in fact, usher you down the wrong path. Instead, they encourage you to take that same fearful energy and get creative in solving your business's problems.

C.S. Lewis says "we read to know we are not alone." I've been reading business books for years. I've read about Vera Wang, Anita Roddick, Richard Branson, Donald Trump, and countless others. For me, reading these business books has proven more frustrating than insightful. Sure, I've picked up some real gems but they never seemed to address the core challenges I've had in business and that is what do I do when my business seems to beat up on my self-esteem? What do I do when client after client says no? Sure, you hold on tightly to the successes but we still deeply remember the "failures."

A young 20-something woman is on the cover of my copy of Birthing the Elephant. Looking at it, you may think as I did that it is for younger entrepreneurs but in fact, I think it is a fantastic book for any entrepreneur.

This book delves into the emotional factors of running a business and we all know that ultimately, emotions dictate our lives. We can only drive ourselves forward for so long if our heart is in doubt. I have never been so encouraged in my abilities to run my own business as I have after reading this book. I hope that you will also find encouragement in how they explain the psychological path of launching and building a business.

Allison Frederick believes that Role Modeling is one of the most effective ways to launch a program, improve a product, and personally achieve a higher level of success and goals.

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