Book Reviews

Be in control by being your own boss

Anitha Moosath | Updated on September 24, 2021

Expertise comes with experience and can be leveraged to make it on your own 

Midway in their career, many professionals go through this rough patch of sorts. They find themselves wedged between two cohorts: junior colleagues looking for guidance and leadership, and bosses overly focusing on performance. There may also be personal challenges to boot. Control then seems to be ebbing away — of the job, career, and life at large. One could also be gripped by a sense of regret on seeing those twenty-somethings ruling the start-up world. 

What would one do in such a scenario? Yield to pressure, or gather strength to face the challenges head-on? Author Venugopal offers a third choice: Be your own boss. He debunks the myth that entrepreneurship is the prerogative of only the young. There are certainly many young minds that are extraordinarily brilliant, but that does not take away from the veritable body of value that experience brings. One cannot also discount the maturity that comes with age or the discipline professional life ensures, he adds. 

Perks of entrepreneurship

“The long years you spent as a professional have fine-tuned your expertise. The discipline of working for an organisation has strengthened you as a professional. Now it is time for you to take a leap into the world of entrepreneurship,” he observes. That is precisely what Venugopal did when he forayed into management consultancy after being in corporate roles for over two-and-a-half decades. In Be Your Own Boss, he draws upon his experience to highlight the perks of entrepreneurship and charts a strategic blueprint for building a successful business. The narrative is woven around four themes and strewn with anecdotes and stories, the predominant Indian setting of which adds to the book’s contextual relevance. 

Venugopal considers consulting as a brilliant choice for those choosing to leverage their experience and be on their own. However, plunging into the unknown brings its own set of challenges. Letting go of the corporate comfort one has been enjoying could be predictably difficult — a sense of insecurity could creep in when the job title and perks are suddenly gone. Instead of being bogged down by these concerns, invest in creating a new identity for yourselves, he says. It is imperative to look within and identify that particular aspect in your spectrum of expertise that could serve as the foundation of a consulting career. One also has to weigh it against market demands and bridge gaps, if any. Packaging it appropriately — breaking the expertise into separate work products with specific measures and pricing for each — and marketing them to potential clients are equally important.

Winning trust 

According to him, the primary step in selling consulting services is selling oneself to the prospects. And this demands, first and foremost, winning trust. Be Your Own Boss abounds in many such nuggets of practical wisdom — why at least 20 per cent of a consultant’s time has to be invested in personal renewal; how pricing can speak a lot about quality; how opportunities are lost because we are just too shy to ask; why self-belief and a strong code of ethics are crucial; and so on. Venugopal maintains a conversational tone throughout, striking a distinct rapport with the readers. 

Any new venture demands a particular mindset and a skillset, and the author dwells at length on these nuances. He emphasises the need to keep at bay the fear of failure and rejection, and explains how empathy, listening skills, and the ability to think out of the box can make a good consultant. As he says, it is undoubtedly expensive and time-consuming to get clients, but diligence lies in nurturing the relationships and mining the account deeply through cross-selling and up-selling. And he reminds us that throughout our efforts, the focus has to invariably lie on the value our expertise can bring.

Venugopal speaks from experience and that makes his observations all the more reassuring. “Expertise is valuable; it can set you free”, he says somewhere in the beginning of the book, and this thread of thought runs strong throughout. Be Your Own Boss undoubtedly opens a window of freedom and opportunities that is sure to motivate mid-management professionals. However, the book serves a larger, seemingly latent purpose — helping them reshape their personal growth curve.  

(The reviewer is a Chennai-based writer)

Check the book on Amazon

Published on September 20, 2021

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