This little gem of a book was the best business book I read in 2018 – ideal for sole traders, SMEs and those wanting to gain insight to the entrepreneurial employer perspective or just for fun.
Tom Hodgkinson, founder of the magazine ‘The Idler’, and with a background in running a book shop, café and school (intriguingly called the ‘Idler Academy of Philosophy, Husbandry and Merriment’), is full of practical, pithy wisdom, gleaned from failures, setbacks and with fawltyesque humour. He is first and foremost a writer, perhaps best known for his treatise on ‘How to be an Idler’ (free ebook by the way).
Even the chapter headings draw you in – ‘Never, ever, overwork’; ‘How to deal with your enemies’; ‘The power of laziness’; ‘How to be Stoic’; ‘The joys of quitting’. Don’t be fooled though, he covers all the business basics (‘The art of accounting’; The disappointments of Social Media and how to get it right’; ‘Get the price right and get paid’). The chapter on ‘Learn to love the spreadsheet’ inspired me to completely rethink my accounting habits – just because it was so down-to-earth and do-able.
I even read a page of it to an employability workshop I ran recently – on the vagaries of trying to find suitable employees (who weren’t idle). ‘Don’t use free Job sites’ he advises fellow employers after a bad experience. Critical of poor CVs (‘cut and pasted; illiterate; repetitious, with streams of ‘hyperbolically laudatory epithets’ with often irrelevant, insufficient work experience’), he recommends word of mouth, networking or using a ‘decent recruitment agency’. Job seekers, centres and coaches take note!
Business for Bohemians by Tom Hodgkinson Penguin Random House UK 2016 ISBN 978-0-241-24479-1