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Life By Design Blog

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Business Book Club: Entrepreneurial You

I've set myself a goal to read one self-development book per month. To make sure I really reflect on what I'm reading I'm going to extract the wisdom from the best business and personal development books and share it with you.


This month I’ve been reading Entrepreneurial You by Dorie Clark

Being self-employed I was naturally drawn to this book when I saw it featured in People Management Magazine (a bit of an odd place to feature it now I think of it but there you go). Of course, I’d like to monetise my expertise and build a solid business creating my own products but is it really as achievable as we are led to believe? The internet is awash with people showing you how to build a business online, most of whom I’m more than a little suspicious of, so it was nice to pick up a practical book from a reputable authority on the subject. Perhaps it can be done after all….

The book:

Following the success of her previous books on Reinventing You and Stand Out and Dorie Clark’s latest book, Entrepreneurial You is all about building your brand, monetising your expertise and creating professional independence. She covers all this in 3 sections:

1. Build Your Brand: why we all need a portfolio career, the entrepreneurial opportunity and becoming a trusted source

2. Monetise Your Expertise: the courage to monetise, becoming a coach, consultant, speaker, blogger, or podcaster and bringing your followers together

3. Extend Your Reach and Impact Online: Online courses, online communities affiliate marketing, joint ventures and Living the life you want.

I’d love to be an entrepreneur but I'm a bit busy at the minute, what does she say?

This is an impressively practical book with lots of ‘how to’ to tips, links to free tools and detailed references of where to find the people and products used in the case studies in the book. Here is a summary of some the key messages, you can find out a bit more, including what I thought of the book, in the video.

Why we should all have portfolio careers

Most people understand the reasoning behind diversifying investments. After all, we were brought up being told “don’t put all your eggs in one basket’. Yet few people apply this thinking to their income. Most people think that being employed brings security and certainty but the world of work has changed and we are increasingly shifting towards more self-reliant, entrepreneurial economy.

Dorie describes how she was called into her bosses office one day only to be told she was being laid off, effective immediately. The next day 9/11 happened. She struggled to find any meaningful employment for months afterwards and reluctantly fell into the world of freelancing. She quickly realised that relying on one source of income from one employer was in itself far too risky. She had started out working for a newspaper at a time when online journalism was a minor consideration, little did she know she had joined the industry just as it had started it’s inexorable collapse. Over time, she came to realise that diversifying both your income and your skills gives you true security. Think about all jobs that barely existed 5 years ago (social media manager, community manager, virtual reality consultant) and then think of all jobs today’s school children will have that don’t exist yet. Will your industry exist tomorrow? Will your skills be needed? The path to freedom and certainty lies not in having a secure job but in knowing that you have multiple streams of income and ability to flex to wherever the economy turns next.


First, become a trusted source

The foundation of every other piece of advice in the book begins with this. It was a relief to read that there’s no need for spammy email drops, webinars that hold back all the important information then try to tell you something the end or marketing funnels. The starting point is creating content that is genuinely valuable to your intended audience and sharing it. For free. The aim is not to sell anything at this point, simply to be a source of information that people know and trust.

The amount of information and choice we have available to us can be overwhelming at times and it’s often difficult to know which product or service to buy. This is why most people will go with what (or who) they know. For this reason, consistently showing up and establishing yourself as an expert has to be your first priority.

Build a following

Once you are starting to become known Dorie stresses the importance of building an email list to connect with your audience (rather than leaving your relationship to a social media platform that could take it away) and continuing to build trust by connecting with them consistently.

The book covers loads of practical tips for doing all of this, I can’t possibly mention them all here but I love that the pointers she gives are about building a base of followers who are passionate about what you offer rather than simply attracting numbers. Dorie talks about the importance of focusing on ‘mindshare’ (that is the amount of space you occupy in your audience's minds) as well as market share. The tip here is to ask your audience what they need and to continually find ways of providing it to them, it’s all about creating meaningful engagement.


Expand Your Income streams

The book explores various ways to expand your income streams. If you are looking for other, complementary avenues to build your income it covers:

  • Speaking
  • Blogging and vlogging
  • Podcasts
  • Coaching
  • Consulting
  • Mastermind Groups
  • Online Courses
  • Publishing

As tempting as it would be to add all these income streams to your portfolio career, in reality it would be far too overwhelming. Most of the stories in the book explore the careers of people who gained notoriety in one field and then expanded to others. I love how these stories are candid about the initial failures of those featured in the case studies as well as highlighting their successes.

Live the life you want

I can’t help but feel that this should have been the first chapter. If you are going to pursue a portfolio career then you would be wise to consider this question first. Rather than focus on your career goal in isolation, it’s a good idea to consider what you want your life to like overall.

Do you want to travel or do you prefer to be closer to home?

How much variety do you need?

How many hours do you want to work?

Is money your main motivation or are you looking for greater flexibility?

For most people, the purpose of going self-employed is to give them greater freedom. Starting up a business can be an all-consuming activity and it is easy to lose sight of why you started in the first place. It would be a shame to pour all your energy and resources into building a successful business only to find you’re a slave to it and your relationships at homes are under strain.


So I am ready to be an entrepreneur?

The good thing about the book is that I can see a clear path from starting from scratch to scaling up to an online business. I genuinely believe it’s achievable for anyone wanting to make the leap.

Perhaps what has struck me most from the book, besides all the handy tips, is the importance developing new skills for an uncertain future. The skills she describes are not just for entrepreneurs. If you want real control of your life, these are most likely the skills of the future of work. It’s worth planning for the unknown and making sure that whatever the future holds you are in a position to set your own direction. 

What should I read next?  

Have you read the book? What did you think?

What shall I read next? If you have any recommendations let me know below or via Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn


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