Book-a-Day Giveaway: The Big Enough Company

Happy Tuesday, everyone! I like getting to say hello to you every day :)

Today I’m excited for two reasons:

I have a guest post up on one of my all time favorite blogs, Think Traffic by Corbett Barr. The post is called From Blogging to Published Book: The Nitty Gritty Pros, Cons and Considerations. I detail numbers and experiences behind my book publishing process to help other bloggers assess whether it’s worth it for them.

SF Blogger Meet-up

SF Blogger Meet-up: Corbett, Jenny, Charlie Hoehn, Leo Babauta and Lewis Howes

Corbett is someone I have looked up to for a long time for his blog- and business-building prowess, and had the great fortune of meeting him in Portland earlier this year (and at a SF Blogger meet-up we co-hosted upon returning). Corbett’s new assistant, Caleb Wojcik, is an awesome go-getter who attended my Seattle book tour stop — and has since quit his job to work with Corbett, moved and gotten married!

Second, today’s book giveaway is for The Big Enough Company: Creating a Business that Works for You from the lovely Adelaide Lancaster (and her co-author Amy Adams). I met Adelaide at the Book Breakthrough NYC conference in July and we immediately hit it off. She and her co-author have created a co-working space in NYC for female entrepreneurs, and focus on helping small business owners create a business that works for their own lifestyle goals — with the notion that not everyone has to be the next Google. I’ve included their book trailer and an interview with Adelaide below.

A recap on what I’m up to this week: September is one of the big months for book publishing, and as a thank you for being such great readers I’ve got some awesome books to share with all of you! I’ll post an entry each day this week (bear with me, email subscribers!) and you’ll have until Friday at 6pm ET to enter to win a copy of each book by answering that post’s question prompt. I’ll choose the winners via Random.org early next week.

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The Big Enough Company — Interview with Adelaide Lancaster

Adelaide Lancaster HeadshotAdelaide Lancaster is an entrepreneur, speaker and co-author of The Big Enough Company (Portfolio/Penguin). She is also the co-founder of In Good Company Workplaces, a first-of-its-kind community, learning center and co-working space for women entrepreneurs in New York City. She is a contributor to The Huffington Post, and a columnist for The Daily Muse and The Hired Guns. She lives in Philadelphia, PA with her husband and daughter.

What was your first brush with entrepreneurship? 

I never set up a lemonade stand or sold things door to door. But I have always believed in my ability to make things happen. Even when I was younger I had a hard time taking no for an answer. I often joke that my first brushes with entrepreneurship were actually my (successful) attempts to bend the rules in high school and college. For example, despite extremely rigid rules at my boarding school, I managed to arrange legally getting 20 kids signed out to the same town in North Carolina for the weekend and chartered a bus to get us there. The school was annoyed but we weren’t technically breaking any rules.

These escapades, which clearly involved exploiting loopholes in the rules, made me responsible for establishing three new rules between my high school and college handbooks. So I guess I was quite enterprising, although it admittedly wasn’t for the best reasons – at least at that age!

What inspired you to start In Good Company, and how did you find the resources (time, money, energy) to do it?

My partner and I already had a consulting practice working with entrepreneurs to start or build their businesses. We heard the same complaints over and over again from our clients. They were isolated. Many worked from home and spent much of their time by themselves, except when they were with clients. They also had pretty small networks as many of their former colleagues still held traditional 9-5 jobs.

Aside from being lonely, this isolation had a huge impact on their businesses. Our networks give us access to ideas, resources, suggestions, feedback, inspiration, motivation, etc. We could tell that our clients needed more of all of this. They also experienced some logistical challenges by not having an office. They didn’t have a professional place to meet clients and they also had pretty weak boundaries between their work and home lives.

We began to imagine a place where our clients could work when they needed to. Since we knew most of them didn’t need full-time offices, we were instead crafting a shared workspace solution (which has grown over time to include full-time space as well). Our thought was that having a physical location would also serve as a home base for a larger community and network. In Good Company would be the place for women entrepreneurs to work, meet, and learn.

Some people didn’t get it – it was in the days before coworking had become main stream, but most people did. We scaled back our practice to make time for the startup mode. We also held lots of focus groups to get feedback and also to cultivate the community. It was a fairly capital intensive business to start so we did raise money, in addition to invest a lot ourselves.

What has been your biggest failure-turned-success or blessing-in-disguise story (in life or business)?

When it came time to graduate from my Counseling Psychology program at Columbia I couldn’t find the kind of job that I was looking for. I wanted to be a career counselor for women who were deciding what direction to take their career. Since I couldn’t find the job I wanted, I decided to create it and started my own career counseling practice.

However, I was still ambivalent about my choice. I felt like I needed a backup plan. I decided to also apply to the PhD program at my graduate school, thinking I could do my practice in conjunction with getting my PhD and then have even more credibility, choices, and experience once the program was over. It seemed like a great plan until I didn’t get in. At first I was devastated but it turned out to be a huge blessing in disguise. Because I wasn’t tied up in a PhD program I plunged myself completely into entrepreneurship, building my practice and learning everything I could about small business.

That practice evolved over a number of years and through several iterations to later become the business I have today. I love being an entrepreneur and love the opportunities it affords me. I have the ability to create work that is meaningful and rewarding on my own terms.

The truth is that today I do much less counseling and consulting work. Instead I spend a lot of time doing things I enjoy just as much and often more such as determining the strategic direction for my business, cultivating our brand through social media, writing content for our blog and my columnist positions, designing programming and curriculum for each season, managing the operational (finances, billing, bookkeeping) side of the business, networking, and making myself available to our members for brainstorming etc.

I love the variety and I love that our business is always evolving. I know that had I done my PhD I’d still be an entrepreneur but I probably would have made choices that resulted in a much more traditional counseling practice, which I know would be much less rewarding for me.

If you could give the Life After College community one piece of encouragement or career advice, what would it be? 

Two pieces, I can’t help myself!

You need to take small steps to get almost anywhere. It’s so easy to get overwhelmed by your own big plans, dreams, and ideas! But nothing happens overnight and don’t underestimate the amount of work that goes into every success story you know. No matter who you are or what you want, the path is likely going to involved small, incremental changes. Embrace it, let it help pace you, and keep moving!

Don’t be afraid to admit you don’t know something. As a new entrepreneur I remember believing that it was my job to know everything, especially when it came to my business. While I was always grateful for the good ideas that others gave me, but I would also think self consciously, “I should have thought of that.” I also believed, foolishly, that it was important to have clear and resolute answers and to never say “I don’t know.” Boy, was I foolish.

I learned that entrepreneurship is all about being a work in progress. You spend more time deciding where you want to go next then you do arriving there. It turns out that pretending to know everything comes a tremendous cost. Not only does it make the business of being an entrepreneur much harder than it needs to be, it also cuts you off from the most valuable resource you have – the ideas and experiences of others. Thankfully, I wised up and started to listen – carefully.

What are a few fun items on your life checklist?

I have three that I’ve had for a really long time:

  • I want to go on a hot air balloon ride over a really cool landscape.
  • I want to own a little pet goat – and the country house to go along with it. (Right now I’m a city dweller)
  • I love 70 degree weather. It makes me so happy. I have this idea for a 70 degree world tour. Either for retirement or as a sabbatical I’d love to take a year to travel to 10-12 locations that are seasonally 70 degrees. For example Iceland in July, Istanbul in June, Johannesburg in September.

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To enter to win a copy of The Big Enough Company, answer the following question in the comments:

If you could start any company, what would it be and why?
What qualities would your ideal company have, and how would it fit your ideal lifestyle? 

  • http://www.gettingonlineincome.com Lucy

    First Brush at Entrepreneurship… When I was like 12 I found a scammy spam post saying to send money to people on a list, put your name on the list, and repost a million times. I got money in the mail for about 7 years and you can still find my posts online. The internet is awesome.

    Total Money – At least 30 bucks over 7 years. Every envelope with cash in the mail made my month. XD  I still have the bug but I know enough not to be scammy.

  • http://www.gettingonlineincome.com Lucy

    Oh and for the contest lol…. I have ADHD, I want a company that focuses on Research and Development. I want to do something new every year or so and pass on a division to someone else to develop or grow or sell.

    One of my favorite quote is ” The ability to learn faster than your competitors may be only sustainable competitive advantage”.

    A Company has to
     - Learn Fast
     - Fail Fast
     - Be HONEST AND ETHICAL above all
     - Provide REAL value

    Like Google without the world domination plans.

  • Danielle

    I’ve always wanted to open a business merging my two passions: business and special needs care! I’d  like for it to be a place where kids with special needs could come just to hang out and get away from it all. They could play, we’d have specialists and a kitchen equipped to deal with allergies, etc. Just a place for them to be kids!

    • Laura

      That is somewhat similar to what I do! :)

  • Laura

    I have my own small business that I am in the process of growing right now, but it’s in a very hands on field so I don’t want it to get so big I feel like I don’t know some of the clients. This book would be quite helpful right now!  Ideally, the business (which I love) would give me the flexibility to travel, volunteer, and just spend time with friends and family. 

  • http://www.letmeoutcreative.com Taslim Jaffer

    I would want to open up my own creativity house where artists of all media (writers, visual artists etc) can come attend workshops, hang out, practice their art, have readings.  Obviously this wouldn’t be a multi-million dollar company but just something I’d love to see – not for the bucks but for the beauty!

  • http://www.ricardobueno.com Ricardo Bueno

    Aww… I think my previous comment got caught in your moderation cue or spam filter :-/ Can’t remember what I said, but gonna check out this book anyway :-) 

    • http://www.lifeaftercollege.org jennyblake

      Ricardo — so sorry about that! Just approved it — thanks so much for your great comments — I love them all! :D

    • http://www.lifeaftercollege.org jennyblake

      Ricardo — so sorry about that! Just approved it — thanks so much for your great comments — I love them all! :D

  • http://www.ricardobueno.com Ricardo Bueno

    Aww… I think my previous comment got caught in your moderation cue or spam filter :-/ Can’t remember what I said, but gonna check out this book anyway :-) 

  • Kat

    I would start a graphic design agency. This agency would focus on outside the box, anything-goes, attention grabbing creative. 

  • Leah Kapernick

    Wow, this is a hard question! I’m really not sure what kind of company I’d start, but I know I’d draw on my passions and interests: yoga, cooking, design, organization, communication, etc. Something along those lines would probably hatch my company.

    My ideal company would honor the quality of life of it’s workers. We’d be as green as possible in the work place, and have a beautiful, open, sunny work place, with lots of creative areas. The company would be built upon trust, talent and adventure, whatever shape it ended up taking. :) 

  • http://mgspeaks.com Mozart

    My company would be a creative historical art collective. I am a performance poet and a history buff, so I would want to work with individuals of all ages in exploring their personal and cultural history using poetry and photography. The reason I would want to do this is because there is so much emphasis on either the present or the future but I find the past to be wonderful vantage point to honor my ancestors and celebrate successes. Also, using narrative therapy techniques it would offer  folks a chance to re-imagine their stories. It would fit my ideal lifestyle because I love story and short bursts of creativity and this work can easily be for a 2 hour class or a 2 week classes depending on the needs of the students or me! Great questions!

  • Rachael

    My ideal company would be a blend of a traditional chocolaterie, also offering modern treats, a cafe, gourmet food,and a gift shop with fun things.
    It would be a fun, inviting,comforting, a space you want to hang out in.
    It would fit my ideal lifestyle by letting me express my creativity and develop new recipes. It would also be fulfilling to take ownership of something,something I am responsible for. Then I’ll also have some control over when and how long I have to work for, so I can free up some time to pursue other interests also.

  • http://www.lifeaftercollege.org jennyblake

    Hey Ricardo! You’re the contest winner for The Big Enough Company book giveaway! Please send me an email at jenny [at] lifeaftercollege [dot] org with your mailing address and I’ll make sure you get your copy :) Have a great day!

  • Pingback: 28: 2 Small Requests and 8 Pearls of Dad Wisdom — Life After College by Jenny Blake

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