A few years ago I stumbled onto a website called “Escape from Cubicle Nation.” At the time I remember thinking, ‘this is the BEST name’ for a target audience of corporate employees longing to start (or who had recently started) businesses of their own.
I could identify with it. After all, I once had been in cubicle nation and left to start my own business. How well I knew the feeling that the name evoked — it truly felt like an escape.
Eventually I “met” the owner of that website, a former corporate trainer by the name of Pam Slim, virtually over the Web. For the past several years I have enjoyed reading online her outlook on life and business.
So I was thrilled to receive a review copy of Pam’s new book by the same name: “Escape from Cubicle Nation: From Corporate Prisoner to Thriving Entrepreneur.” And that name is an accurate description of what this book is all about.
The book is a roadmap for how to go from being a corporate employee, to starting your own business. It covers tons of practical points you’ll need to consider in making the leap to finally live out your dream of going into business for yourself.
But where this book shines is in helping you with the mental and emotional fortitude and clarity needed to make the jump to entrepreneurship.
The book starts with a journey of self-discovery by helping you understand how to open your mind up to the opportunity of working for yourself, instead of working for someone else. One part of the book is particularly telling, in which Pam talks about the need to “thaw out your soul.” She writes:
I have spent lots of time in cubicles. Even as a consultant, I would often get assigned a cube to work in for a long-term project. And as much as I knew that I was not an employee and had a vibrant life outside of work, I would sometimes slip into a bit of a coma.
This is such a common feeling that I sometimes wonder if cubicle furniture comes with a strange chemical pheromone that actually draws your life force out of you. Maybe it is activated by fluorescent lights?
Whatever it is, I know from firsthand experience as a consultant in hundreds of corporate of environments that some longtime employees, who by their nature were never meant to fit into corporate life, develop a serious rift between their emotional and intellectual selves. This manifests in:
- Not being able to identify what makes them happy
- A feeling of numbness and emptiness
- A feeling of burning rage
- A feeling of powerlessness and loss of self
- A sense of loneliness and loss of direction
If you are the type of person who works in a corporate environment and has ever felt any of the feelings listed above, then you are going to love this book!
Escape from Cubicle Nation also contains a large section called “The Reality of Entrepreneurship” — which includes things such as how to develop a business model that has a chance for success; developing a strong brand in which you differentiate your business from everybody else’s; and finding clients.
Then the book covers the many practical details that you’ll need to consider before leaving your job, such as how and where to get health insurance, and how to overcome the fears of family and friends when you tell them that you want to become self-employed. It’s 331 pages that culminates with a chapter that helps you recognize when it is the right time to leave your employment to go out on your own.
Who Will Benefit from This Book
One of the wonderful things about this book is its target market: it is crystal clear. It’s for those who have spent their careers in the employ of some other business, but who have secretly harbored a wish to go out on their own. If you are currently employed in a corporation somewhere, silently wishing as you sat in endless meetings that you could be your own boss but are not sure how or where to get started, then get this book. You will devour every page of it — and come back begging for more.
I would even go so far as to say that if you’ve recently left the corporate world to start a business (say within the last couple of years) this book will be helpful because it will reinforce your commitment and re-energize you.
If, however, you have been running your own business for some time now, or if you are a completely self-assured aspiring entrepreneur who knows exactly what to do next, then you really don’t need this book. The book is not intended to show you how to grow a small business to the next level, or how to operate more efficiently, or how to navigate the many issues small businesses encounter once past the startup stage.
If your biggest challenge is YOU and getting your head (and the rest of you) prepared to leave the corporate world and then become successfully self-employed — then run, don’t walk, to get Escape from Cubicle Nation.