Feature image via Molly Adams
One of the things I love the most about being a solo entrepreneur is mining the internet for glittering gems of business advice. With more and more people — women especially — quitting their jobs and setting up shop on their own, there is a growing and diversifying range of blogs, podcasts, books and courses out there, which promise to inspire you, focus you, stop you procrastinating (is that really possible?) and provide practical advice for those new to business or struggling with specific blocks.
Of course, the solopreneur web is as much a time-sucking vortex as any other online space, so I’ve pulled together some of my favourite sources of business advice, along with the recommendations of some of the many awesome folks I’ve interviewed for this column. Enjoy!
Riese’s column, This Business of Art, is always a mine of useful information for folks who make a living being creative online.
Alexandra Franzen’s blog functions as a heartfelt and practical guide to keeping the heart and soul in my business and especially in my writing. (Happily, I got to interview Alex for this very column – you can check out her own recommendations below!)
XO Sarah is an invaluable source of information if blogging is a key part of your business. Sarah has spent years figuring out how a business blog works, and she shares a continual stream of no-nonsense, practical advice covering topics like finding blogging inspiration, leveraging social media platforms, building an email list and so on. There are a lot of people out there promising the same thing (all with matching shiny, coral-and-gold websites, Mac keyboards and manicured nails) but for me, Sarah Morgan’s blog is the most useful and comprehensive. I also like Sarah Von Bargen (she’s hilarious), Hiro Boga, and Maya Elouis.
I loved Seth Godin’s book,What to Do When it’s Your Turn (And it’s Always Your Turn). It’s presented in a magazine-style and it is punchy and inspiring, leaving you with nowhere to turn except to show up and do your work..whatever that may be.
A few folks below have recommended Tim Ferris’ ubiquitous The Four-Hour Workweek. Though I get why this book inspires many solopreneurs, I’m not the book’s biggest fan.
Most of all, though, I’m inspired by other entrepreneurs, especially women and most especially queer women. I use Feedly to pull all of my favourite blogs through into one place and dip in on a daily basis to see what people have to share. Watching my awesome friends and colleagues in the queer business community sharing their journeys, their ideas, and their offerings with the world keeps me going and reminds me that I’m not alone, that I can do this, that it’s worth the blood, the sweat, and the tears.
Here are the favourite books, blogs and podcasts of some of our Follow Your Arrow interviewees!
Emilie Wapnick, founder of Puttylike.com
The Art of Asking by Amanda Palmer
The Four-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss
The War of Art by Steven Pressfield
Alexandra Franzen, writer
I love the book Die Empty by Todd Henry. I talk about it obsessively and recommend it to anyone. It will light a fire in your heart. I won’t reveal any more. Just read it.
I always feel inspired by my friend and client Melissa Cassera. She’s a former publicist who now works as a small business strategist and she’s pursuing a career in Hollywood as a TV writer. I love how she’s balancing her business, her personal life, and her passion projects, all so gracefully! She’s brilliant and hysterically funny.
I highly recommend listening to RuPaul being interviewed by podcaster Marc Maron. It is insightful and full of fascinating advice on how to live a courageous, creative life. The episode is not free (you have to buy it) but it’s well worth the investment.
Lizzy Goddard, virtual assistant
Marie Forleo is basically the queen of the online business world I live in. Every Tuesday she publishes an episode of MarieTV, full of fantastic business advice on pretty much every topic/issue imaginable. She also runs B-School, an 8 week comprehensive online business course.
Rebecca Tracey of The Uncaged Life is a no-nonsense business coach, helping people particularly in the startup/foundation laying stage of their business. I took her signature month long group programme (Uncage Your Business) early on in my entrepreneurial journey and it changed everything for me in terms of the clarity and direction I got out of it.
Denise Duffield-Thomas of Lucky Bitch is a money mindset coach. I know that sounds totally weird and irrelevant, but sorting out my mindset towards money has been absolutely essential in growing a successful business. She’s got loads of free content on her website to get you started with this side of things, plus a full course which is hands down my favourite online community of fabulous business women.
Tieara Myers, spiritual coach
I do not have much time to read lately, only the occasional article, but I do enjoy listening to podcasts and streams!
The School of Self-Mastery Podcast on business, money, and life.
Entrepreneur on Fire Podcast a podcast featuring entrepreneurs from all fields.
Abraham Hicks talking about alignment, spirituality, and the law of attraction.
Tara Brown, coffee roaster
I really like Riese’s This Business of Art column. I look up to the Autostraddle editorial team a lot.
I’ve also been able to learn from some of the best people in specialty coffee, especially the guys at the Juan Ana Coffee Program and the fantastic team at Sustainable Harvest.
Sarah Gottesdiener, designer
The writer and teacher Esme Wang is amazing, she offers advice for those ambitious souls who have chronic, debilitating illnesses. Before her, I hadn’t really found a creative who so bravely discussed creating through limitations. Its been heartening to read her journals and be reminded I’m not alone in my struggles with chronic illness.
Paul Jarvis has good topics and helpful tips. I appreciate his transparency about his business, his process, and his habits.
Barbara Jones, eco builder
Martin Brown is a very dedicated environmentalist and thinker who is bringing the Living Building Challenge into the UK, doing more good instead of less bad.
This Changes Everything by Naomi Klein
The John Lewis Partnership is a superb example of the way I’d like to do business. A successful company with cooperative and egalitarian principles that has survived the cut-throat market for decades and is still going strong, powered by its workforce.
Sean Desiree, musician
I read the blog posts that Sonicbids puts out that give tips to musicians and I find it helpful.
I read the bios of artists I appreciate to learn how they established a successful music career.
I constantly bug my partner for advice on flyers, music and everything really. Because it’s a solo project I don’t have anyone to bounce ideas off of most of the time. For that I am really grateful she tolerates my questions and is honest in her critique.
Elizabeth Cooper, body-love coach
The Body is Not an Apology is an amazing movement and incredibly rich website about body-based intersectional liberation on both the personal and collective level that inspires me in terms of the content of the work I do.
Many Buddhist and meditation books really inspire my work. One in particular that I read recently that felt like a guide to how I want to approach my life and business: Loving Kindness by Sharon Salzberg.
In terms of business strategy, I’ve been getting a lot of nourishment recently from a Facebook group, “How To Sell to Women Without Selling Them Out,” moderated by Kelly Diehls, which supports entrepreneurs who seek to not replicate systems of oppression in business. I’ve been seeking to do business in a way that is actually feminist and empowering, and while I’ve only just found this group, it feels like a glimmer that it’s possible.
Nathalie Huerta, gym owner
I always go back to re-read The 4 Hour Work Week by Tim Ferris when I’m feeling a burnout coming on.
The Law of Attraction keeps me positive when I’m feeling down or defeated.
My twin sisters, they’re down to roll up their sleeves and help me with anything. Same for my girl, she’s a rider!
Rebekah Erev, artist and priestess
Queer small business owners have also been a huge inspiration. Like everything in my life, the people I actually know and have relationships with are my biggest influence. Nicolas Weinstein of Homestead Apothecary has been an awesome support person for my business. I love his ethics around community and business.
I also have been hugely inspired by Jen Lorang of Alchemilla. Along with a handful of other queers here in the bay area, she started a craft fair called Magic Makers. I sold my stuff there this year and it was completely wonderful to fill an old grange hall with queers selling locally made beauty to other queers.
Chella Quint, #periodpositive activist
I love Tina Roth Eisenberg’s Swiss Miss blog , and her projects Teux Deux (as above), Tattly, and Creative Mornings. Her aesthetic and her work ethic really resonate with what I like, how I am and how I’d like to be.
Pace Smith, pathfinder and coach
Heart of Business taught me everything I know about doing business in a heart-centered way.
Finding Your Own North Star by Martha Beck is a great book about following your heart. It’s the best book on Pathfinding I know of until I write my own.
Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert is about fanning the flames of your creative spirit, and about what to watch out for when trying to make a living from creative work.
Jane Bradley, founder of For Books’ Sake
The Aspire Foundation have a free mentorship scheme for women, along with events aimed at developing women’s leadership skills.
Ogunte do brilliant work supporting women starting social enterprises, and have loads of useful advice and resources, as well as an incredible, worldwide community of women leading all sorts of exciting projects.
I also love Michelle Tea’s latest book, How to Grow Up. It’s not strictly about business, but you get the picture of how she developed her non-profit RADAR and the world-renowned touring Sister Spit roadshow, as well as loads of other insights around what it means to be weird, working-class and queer, and all the associated baggage that might involve.
Hattie Hasan, plumber
The Joy of Plumbing, a Guide to Having The Life You Really, Really Want by Hattie Hasan.
Become a Key Person of Influence by Daniel Priestley, on branding and becoming key in your own industry
Lynn Serafinn on blogging, Twitter and use of Social media for ethical (and effective) business marketing.
Jeanna Kadlec, founder of Bluestockings Boutique
For entrepreneurs and creatives, I cannot recommend Skillshare highly enough. So fucking helpful. Skillshare classes have helped me avoid so many headaches.
Similarly: Periscope. Seriously, y’all, Periscope is like live TV for folks hustling their asses off. So many awesome Millennial entrepreneurs talking about how to hustle and giving solid, half hour talks for free that you can learn from. Also, some industries are very into Periscope so it’s a great place to network (for example: spiritual entrepreneurs, which is my other business).
Specifically, one person I’d send folks to right now, immediately, is Regina Anaejionu of byRegina. Her work is geared to the online infopreneur business, but it is 100% relevant and helpful for anyone starting a business that will have an online presence. She also has a ton of really affordable resources available in her store (I’m talking $3 and $9 e-books and workbooks on branding and social media). Plus, she focuses on self-paced e-courses, so you don’t have to worry about her saying that you can only get X advice if you pay four figures for a coaching package.
Caroline Elenowitz, fashion designer
Business of Fashion is good for fashion stuff— their roundups on other articles on the fashion business are also excellent.
Fashion is Spinach by Elizabeth Hawes was a very interesting read with surprising insight into the challenges of the fashion business even though it was published in 1938.
Inc Magazine also sometimes has some good general business tips.
Brittani Nichols, screenwriter and performer
I don’t have anything specific but I think everyone should have a book for their heart, a game for their mind, and an activity for their body.
Over to you guys! What blogs, books, podcasts and courses do you recommend? Add your hot tips in the comments!
I don’t have a business of my own, but especially the podcasts seem to be very interesting! Thanks for putting this together. :)
Thank you for your article on The 4-Hour Workweek! I read it last year after a friend (also a self-employed queer woman) recommended it and I felt all the same things as you and then my friend and I argued about it for weeks. Don’t need a guide to be an entitled straight white English-speaking dude living abroad, I’ve already met enough in real life.
Right? Yeah that book pushed a lot of buttons for me. I do get how it provides business inspiration for people (and I absolutely did take a few helpful tips away from the book myself) but jeez louise it’s annoying.
Correct? No doubt that Srs Group book pushed a considerable measure of catches for me. I do get how it gives business motivation to individuals
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I love this list! I’m passionate about helping queer entrepreneurs, and love hearing about folks taking the leap to create something for themselves. My partner and I quit our 9-5 jobs and started our own blog. It’s been a journey for sure! If you want to read about how we quit our jobs to pursue what we love, check out the story here https://www.alifesofull.com/posts/the-truth-about-leaving-your-9-5
Here’s to more queer inspiration!