Starting and Growing a Business in the New Economy

Book Review by Denise Saunders

[Editor's Note: This book review originally appeared in Career Convergence Web Magazine in April 2008.  It is being reprinted as part of our Special Book Review issue now.]

Starting and Growing a Business in the New Economy: Successful Career Entrepreneurs Share Stories and Strategies, 2007, National Career Development Association, edited by Sally Gelardin

Have you ever thought about starting a small business utilizing your skills and talents in the career development field? Starting and Growing a Business in the New Economy: Successful Career Entrepreneurs Share Stories and Strategies, edited by Sally Gelardin, creatively presents 17 individual contributors' accounts of their business development and personal career journeys. Sally Gelardin has skillfully recruited a group of career development notables representing various facets of career entrepreneurship from solo practice to million dollar businesses. These career development professionals offer personal accounts which provide insights, wisdom and tips for those considering starting a business or growing an existing one.

The themes of the monograph focus on identifying entrepreneurial dreams, determining passion and following a vision that may lead to successful business ventures. These authors encourage exploration of ideas and generation of possibilities with an understanding of market forces and client needs. Each author shares stories relating to the development of their businesses. Readers benefit from these first-hand accounts as authors describe the path toward realizing their business aspirations. They also share targeted exercises and activities to assist in conceptualizing a business plan, strategically marketing a business, and determining what services to provide and to whom. As seasoned career professionals, each contributor provides 'food for thought' along the career decision-making journey. Several authors encourage self-assessment and exploration to determine if entrepreneurship is consistent with one's personal characteristics.

One strength of the monograph is the friendly, open approach taken by the authors in sharing their stories. Each author has presented a very personal account of their career development journeys making the monograph light and easy to read. Several of the contributing authors invite communication with those interested in entrepreneurship. At first glance one might be intimidated by the list of contributors and their achievements, particularly those readers who do not aspire to large business development. However, these authors have shared a wealth of information from personal experience that can serve to instill the drive and the courage necessary to start the entrepreneurial journey.

Highlights of the authors' contributions reflect:

  • career decision making of both male and female entrepreneurs
  • accounts of small business owners and larger multi-staff offices
  • reflections on both the challenges and successes of entrepreneurship
  • the value of having the freedom to shape and mold a business
  • the necessity of re-evaluating and often altering business strategies due to life stage transitions.

In addition, Appendix A features 19 exercises created by the authors. These workbook-style exercises include descriptions of the purpose, population, time, materials, etc., so as to assist the reader in

  • conducting values clarification
  • entrepreneurial skill assessment
  • exploring business market needs
  • creating mission statements and business plans
  • expanding creative thinking related to potential business opportunities.

Although several authors reference marketing strategies and techniques, the monograph does not provide a complete guide to the 'nuts and bolts' of developing an independent business or practice. Counselors and others in the helping professions are often challenged by the day to day business management skills necessary to successfully develop a business or practice. For this reason, readers may find it helpful to use this monograph in addition to other research and resources related to starting a business.

I highly recommend the monograph as a precursor to embarking on any entrepreneurial venture. It could easily serve to inspire one to explore independent work as a private career counselor, consultant or coach. This resource might also provide the needed motivation to expand on the work of a current business or practice. The career development field has invaluable experience and wisdom in the area of entrepreneurship. Why not take advantage of it through this monograph to help guide you on your entrepreneurial journey?

Denise Saunders, Ph.D. is a Licensed Psychologist and National Certified Counselor in private practice in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. She has been providing career development and counseling services for 18 years. Prior to starting a private practice, Denise worked in higher education providing mental health counseling, career counseling, and teaching to undergraduate, graduate students and postdoctoral trainees. She can be reached at dsaunders@nc.rr.com.

This monograph is available in the online NCDA Career Resource Store .

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