Business Coach Pamela Slim on How to Escape Your Office Cubicle

by Gil Zeimer on August 24, 2011
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Pamela Slim is a business coach, author, and speaker who helps frustrated employees break out of their corporate jobs to start their own businesses. Her blog Escape From Cubicle Nation ranks among the top career and marketing sites, and her similarly titled book is selling well, too. She has nearly 24,000 Twitter followers.

We asked Slim, who works from home in Mesa, Arizona, why she started her business, how she did it, and what tips she’d offer to entrepreneurs looking to follow in her footsteps.

ISBB: How did you quit your corporate job?

Slim: My last real job was at Barclays Global Investors in 1996 as a director of training and development. I was also volunteer-running a martial arts program at night. I turned 30, was tired, got pneumonia, and didn’t want to endure an upcoming corporate merger. I wasn’t ready for a career change and needed some time to find a new job in the San Francisco Bay Area. So I called a former boss at Hewlett-Packard, who offered me some contract work. I discovered that I loved working for myself.

How long were you an independent consultant?

I was a freelancer for 10 years, and I got a ton of referrals. I focused on the human side of businesses, working on executive coaching, change management, and leadership development initiatives — all with the purpose of making companies better, more effective places to work.

What changed your mind about contracting?

I met my husband and wanted to have a family, but there were no books about how to overcome the fear of leaving a corporate environment and working for yourself. I trained with Martha Beck, Oprah’s life coach, because I wanted to help people understand how to make positive changes.

How do you help frustrated employees start their own businesses?

I started a blog in October 2005 to share my views on starting your own business and to get known in my field. In May 2006, I reached a tipping point when I wrote an open letter to CEOs — kind of a manifesto — on what corporate leaders really needed to do to keep their best employees from leaving. It got 141 responses. On a whim, I emailed Guy Kawasaki a link, and he asked me to turn it into a Top 10 list. After he blogged about it, I got a huge spike in traffic to my blog (20,000 visitors in one day), which exposed me to the market. The blog and the book have helped me work from home and raise two children with my husband.

How did the book evolve?

Penguin Portfolio asked me to write a book based on my blog. Escape From Cubicle Nation: From Corporate Prisoner to Thriving Entrepreneur was published more than two years ago and continues to sell consistently. It won Best Small Business/Entrepreneur Book of 2009 from 800CEORead and Editor’s and Reader’s Choice awards for Best Small Business Book of 2009 from Small Business Trends.

How do you promote yourself on Twitter?

I tweet all day, every day, using my iPhone and my desktop computer. I think tweeting is the best way to stay connected with readers, partners, other authors, and the press. It was a really important part of lining up speaking engagements in the U.S. and Europe when my book came out. I also still get a lot of one-on-one clients through Twitter.

How often do you blog?

A few times a week.

What advice would you give to small-business owners about marketing?

Profile your ideal client. Determine what they need to solve their problems, then reach out through the social media you think they use. For some, it might be Twitter. For others, it could be LinkedIn. Use the tools that best fit your ideal client when you’re doing your marketing, so that you can be efficient with your efforts.

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