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Book review: Escape from Cubicle Nation: From Corporate Prisoner to Thriving Entrepreneur by Pamela Slim

Escape from Cubicle Nation: From Corporate Prisoner to Thriving EntrepreneurEscape from Cubicle Nation: From Corporate Prisoner to Thriving Entrepreneur by Pamela Slim

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Have you ever dreamed about quitting your day job to launch a business? Most people have, but almost none of them venture beyond dreaming. When you’re ready to seriously consider your escape from cubicle nation, this is the book for you! I found it both inspirational and practical.

After listening to Pamela Slim’s Escape from Cubicle Nation Podcast for over a year, I decided to read her book. This comprehensive guide to entrepreneurship is an excellent blend of concepts, anecdotes, and instructions. What sets this book apart from others about starting a business is how it addresses the emotional nature of the transition from corporate life to self-employment. It’s also packed with advice about the usual entrepreneurial topics: choosing a business, finding mentors, branding, finances, legal issues, and insurance and benefits.

Many entrepreneurial books preach that you should embrace your dreams and take a leap of faith. Slim’s advice is the opposite: be realistic about the entrepreneurial life and carefully plan before jumping. Create a very specific, detailed “ideal life plan” and use it as a blueprint. You can download this Life Plan from the book’s website. This plan defines your ideal work style, work environment, target clients, financial goals, and how you spend your ideal day. It helps you set goals in preparing for self-employment and building your business, and keeps you moving toward your ideal life.

Echoing Jim Collins, Slim says that there are 3 factors for figuring out what work you should do: what people will pay you to do, what you have passion for, and what you’re “genetically encoded” to do. You can achieve business success without all 3, but you'll more naturally reach satisfying, fulfilling success when you have them all.

Slim strongly suggests that you test your business idea as side job before quitting your full-time job. She calls this “making sure there’s water in the pool before you jump”. Keep the side business until you’re too busy to keep your day job, since this is the sign that your business has a market. Always have a backup plan (or several) in case you fail (remember, be realistic!).

Slim references many popular authorities in the entrepreneurial world, including Timothy Ferriss, Jim Collins, Michael Gerber, Seth Godin, and Guy Kawasaki. I thought that incorporating and expanding on their best advice made her book better. You’ll get more out of this book if you’re familiar with their works.

Here are a few additional ideas I liked, to use once you’ve started your business:
  • Embrace "beginner mind": the curiosity and openness that arises from knowing that you don't know everything. Steer clear of "expert mind", the mindset in which you think you're a master and have nothing more to learn.
  • Charge based on the value you deliver to your clients; avoid charging hourly, because it doesn’t scale.
  • Avoid analysis paralysis; prototype rapidly to keep moving forward.
  • Use “just-in-time learning”; we learn best when we have a clear goal and can immediately apply knowledge, so don’t spend too much time learning ahead of time.


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