THE SEED HANDBOOK
Lynne Franks Thorsons pounds 14.99
The feminisation of business is the defining trend of the past decade.
Yet the focus on large organisations masks the really profound shift - the growth of the female DIY economy. In America, female-owned businesses already employ 27.5 million people and generate dollars 3.6 trillion in sales annually, up 436% since 1987.
In Britain, too, there has been rapid change, with women accounting for 30% of all business start-ups. Call it business feminism or if you're Lynne Franks, author of The Seed Handbook, call it 'the feminine way to do business'.
Franks' goal in writing this book is to empower other women to discover their 'inner entrepreneur' and to grow an enterprise in a sustainable way. The book's front cover may put the discerning professional woman off. The illustration - a daisy - looks almost childlike in its simplicity. For me, it evoked images of well-meaning (but unprofessional) women's enterprises run on a shoestring.
Still, these surface prejudices aside, this is a good book. Franks is not much interested in speaking to men or women who follow the masculine way of doing business. Hers is an altogether different quest: she wants to promulgate a philosophy of sustainable business as relevant to the low-income woman on a council estate in Glasgow's Drumchapel as to the urban professional contemplating leaving the corporate world and going it alone.
With this audience in mind, The Seed Handbook, part autobiography and part self-help manual, is accessibly written. Franks' persona is ever present and eager to offer her kitchen-table wisdom. Most great ideas take time to nurture into being - hence the metaphor of the seed - and useful tips include: keep clutter to a minimum; get up early; meditate and create inner quiet; have the courage to succeed; believe in divine energy, find your inner entrepreneur.
Franks' spell in California imbues the book with a New Age mysticism, which I don't think will resonate among British audiences in quite the same way.
I imagine, too, that the overall tone of the book will do best among older women who are looking for new challenges in their lives, and need coaching and confidence.
Still, these criticisms aside, I was left with a warm feeling after reading Franks' book - a kind of chicken soup for the soul of would-be or wannabe entrepreneurs. Call it synchronicity or just plain old luck.