Review: The Reluctant Entrepreneur: Making a Living Doing What You Love


The Reluctant Entrepreneur: Making a Living Doing What You Love is a new book by Mary Ellen Bates. The key message repeated throughout the book is that you can own a successful business doing the work you love. You can attract clients who value your services and who are willing to pay you so that you make a good living and enjoy your life.

It is primarily aimed at those people with skills they want to offer to clients in the form of professional services, but it could still be useful to those entrepreneurs who want to launch a business around a product idea that would require outside investors and a product management strategy.

Are You a Reluctant Entrepreneur?

You might be a Reluctant Entrepreneur if you have skills of value to others that you love to use. You are willing to move beyond your comfort zone and work for yourself instead of remaining safely (safely?) employed. You want to make a good living, but getting rich is not your top goal.

The book includes basic advice on starting a business, such as determining a business structure and money management. Canadians will have to translate some of the US-based advice to make sense in a local context. However, Mary Ellen’s advice on clients is universal. She promises that it is possible to attract clients rather than chase them. First, the Reluctant Entrepreneur must first identify ideal clients in order to find them. The book covers methods of attracting clients as well as their “care and feeding” in some detail.

I found Mary Ellen’s thoughts on marketing and branding enlightening. Focused on attracting clients, Mary Ellen shares twenty ideas to kick-start a marketing plan. And she reviews the various tools and how to use them to effectively spread a business message.

The Reluctant Entrepreneur wants to own a successful business as part of a successful life, so work-life balance is addressed. It is possible to take a business seriously without letting the business become the sole reason for living. By using time management, contractors, and strategic thinking, it is possible to sustain or even build a satisfying business that leaves room for living.

The Reluctant Entrepreneur includes templates, input from a variety of entrepreneurs, lists of tools and questions, and a set of appendices with selected resources. It is an essential book for anyone who dreams of starting their own business, is starting or running a business currently, or wants to shake up an existing business. Mary Ellen shares her decades of experience as a Reluctant Entrepreneur without lecturing. Her voice—that of a helpful professional colleague—makes the book very informative without being dry or tedious to read.

Mary Ellen Bates has been running her own business, Bates Information Services, since 1991. Over time, She has evolved her business to meet the changing needs of her clients and has managed to balance a successful business with a happy life. Mary Ellen also wrote Building & Running a Successful Research Business, in which she reveals all the tips, tricks, and techniques for setting up, launching, running, and growing your own information business.

The Reluctant Entrepreneur: Making a Living Doing What You Love by Mary Ellen Bates is available for Kindle at Amazon. There is also a companion website with additional information from or about the book.