The Self-Reliant Entrepreneur Feeds Your Soul – And Grows Your Business


The Self-Reliant Entrepreneur is a day-by-day guide for business owners. Written as a daily meditation, each chapter starts with a quote, followed by a history lesson and ending with a daily action step.

Self-Reliant Entrepreneur Book Review

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As an entrepreneur, you always face demands on your time and attention. You start each day feeling like a future titan. Then two minutes into your workday, you resemble something closer to a sooty and bruised firefighter.

“This is what entrepreneurship looks like when it’s working,” you mutter.  The constant roller coaster of highs and lows both excites you and exhausts you. And, when someone says you should be working “on your business” instead of “in your business” it’s all you can do not to scream.

Are you with me?

I know that you are.

The Journey to Being a Self-Reliant Entrepreneur Starts Today

“Nature has no desire to succeed — one season inevitably folds into the next, a year marked by changes in weather, ecology, and daylight — no matter how much force we might exert to contain it.” — John Jantsch “The Self-Reliant Entrepreneur”

With winter coming, falling temperatures drive us inside. Make some time. Grab a book. And reflect on the past year. Think about the year yet to come.

This year, make that book John Jantsch’s Self-Reliant Entrepreneur: 366 Daily Meditations to Feed Your Soul and Grow Your Business.

Self-Reliant Entrepreneur is a different kind of business book — especially from the man behind the ultra-practical Duct Tape Marketing brand.

In short, it’s the thinking, feeling, philosophising entrepreneur’s kind of book.

Think of it as a daily devotional for entrepreneurs.

Inspired by 20 Years of Experience, a T-Shirt, and A Gentle Nudge

“There is no object so foul that intense light can not make beautiful.” — Emerson

You know that popular phrase  “It took me 10 years to become an overnight success”?  It took Jantsch 20 years of entrepreneurship, a Ralph Waldo Emerson quote from an old t-shirt and a gentle nudge from his agent to pull this book together.

Believe it or not, it wasn’t as easy for Jantsch to write as it will be for you to read.  He did a lot of studying and reading from the transcendental period.  Not just the usual authors like Thoreau and Emerson, but the protagonists in works like Moby Dick, The Scarlet Letter and Little Women.

As he went through all of these works and even the personal letters and journals of the authors,  he noticed this thread of self-reliance and a “connection to entrepreneurs that was deep and perfect.”

If you’re a fan of any of Jantsch’s previous books such as The Referral Engine or Duct Tape Marketing you might feel hesitant about picking up a book that sounds a bit more abstract.  But don’t worry. Jantsch won’t disappoint.  Especially if you want a book you can sink your teeth into that teaches you something.

Only in this case, the teaching will actually be coming from YOU and your own reflections on the material.

I think it’s better if I show you. Here’s a snapshot from one page:

self-reliant entrepreneur chapter example

That’s it.  That’s one chapter.  Granted, it will only take a few minutes to read, but the reflection behind it will stay with you.

Organized For The Seasons of Your Business

Like your business, it’s organized by both seasonal and business quarters.  Each month has a theme and each day within a month presents a philosophical prompt for your thinking about yourself and who you are being in your business.

self-reliant entrepreneur table of contents

“I leaned on the seasons metaphor and created four stages that I think we pass through in this work and gave each month a theme. With that structure, I not only had a narrative arc for the work I also had a way to find the readings I wanted based on monthly themes. I worked for about 6 months before writing and then took another 6 months to write the manuscript,“ explained Jantsch.

Self-Reliant Entrepreneur Provides the “Why” Behind Your Business Plan

By definition Business plans and marketing plans are two-dimensional.  They give you the what, the when and the how.  But it’s the WHY that gives your business its soul.  And this is what you’ll re-discover with The Self-Reliant Entrepreneur.

Reading The Self-Reliant Entrepreneur requires a deep level of thinking and will coax you into accessing thoughts and feelings that aren’t always comfortable. And, if you’re the “strong silent type” to the outside world, this will give you a well-deserved respite and give you the space you need to be vulnerable.

A Business Book That Will Enhance Who You Are Being in Your Business and Your Life

“My definition of success is no longer anchored in what others think,” said Jantsch when I asked him if writing the book changed him in any way.

We don’t often expect a book to transform our lives or how we think about things.  But this business book just might.

Because this isn’t a book you sit down and read all at once.  It is the kind of book that you “use” according to Jantch.   “You start to break down and build up new ways to think.” he continued.

After using the book for about a week, I can honestly say that I agree. You are compelled to think, to reflect and to engage with the content.

When I did the reading in the morning, I found that it influenced how I approached the day.  When I read the meditations at night, I was more apt to recontextualize how I experienced the day.  Both had value and I can certainly imagine alternating between daily and evening readings to see which provided me with the most insights and value.

On My Wishlist For The Book

I requested and received a PDF review copy of the book.  So it’s important to note that some of my comments here won’t be relevant in the final printing of the book.

Having said that, there were a few notable things that were missing for me in the version that I received; a table of contents, an index and a bookmark or ribbon as a placeholder.

I recognize that a table of contents or an index might be a bit unwieldy since the book is more than 400 pages and just about every page is a new chapter.  But I missed some easy way to “find my place” or go to where I left off without scrolling or thumbing through the book to get to the right chapter or page.  If you get this book for yourself or as a gift, you might want to add a bookmark as a companion.

A Completely Different Business Book

In our email conversation, Jantsch mentioned that this was a completely different type of business book for him to write.  I’m not sure that I agree.

Over the years, I’ve come to expect practical and “doable” books from Jantsch and The Self-Reliant Entrepreneur is another addition to that mix.  It too, is a type of business planning book.  What makes it different from his other works is that it put the focus on who you are as a human “being” rather than a human “doing”.

If you’ve been frustrated by books and articles that talk about having an “entrepreneurial mindset” but don’t provide much direction beyond that, you’ll find The Self-Reliant Entrepreneur will give you the mindset direction you’re looking for.

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Ivana Taylor Ivana Taylor is the Book Editor for Small Business Trends. She is responsible for directing the site’s book review program and manages the team of professional book reviewers. She also spearheads the annual Small Business Book Awards. Ivana publishes DIYMarketers, where she shares daily do-it-yourself marketing tips, and is co-author of "Excel for Marketing Managers."