Book Review: Finding the Sweet Spot

Finding the Sweet Spot
By Dave Pollard
Chelsea Green Publishing
208 pages

At the beginning of his book on natural and sustainable entrepreneurship, Dave Pollard offers an open letter to readers. In it he points this out about the approved system we are taught from a young age about making a living:

That system has let us down badly. It is in the interest of those who control the current economic system, those with the established wealth and power, that we not know that there is a better way to make a living than working for them, doing meaningless work as wage slaves, just to buy ourselves some leisure time to do what has meaning for us.

After this rather condemning view of the state of the modern working person, though, Pollard lays down the framework for breaking out of the mold and accomplishing so much more — making a living by doing something more enjoyable that could even be better for society and the planet.

In Finding the Sweet Spot: The Natural Entrepreneur’s Guide to Responsible, Sustainable, Joyful Work, Pollard lays out the characteristics of a natural entrepreneur, as well as provides a road map to earning a living by contributing to what he calls the "Natural Economy" — a more sustainable, localized economy that allows us more time to do what we enjoy.

The book is divided into three sections: Discovering What You Were Meant to Do, Creating Natural Work, and Making It Sustainable. Each section contains two chapters with each chapter addressing, in depth, one of six steps to natural entrepreneurship:

  1. Identifying your gifts, passions and purpose
  2. Finding the right partner(s)
  3. Research unmet needs in the marketplace
  4. Imagining and innovating solutions
  5. Improvising
  6. Acting responsibly and on principle

There is also a section that addresses next steps and a handy resource guide. Throughout the book, there are useful call-outs and quotes, as well as flow charts and illustrations, to help readers find information quickly. Additionally, each chapter includes a case study that illustrates how the processes described in the book work. There are worksheets as well, meant to help readers evaluate ourselves as part of the exercise.

Sweet Spot is written in clear, conversational language that is easy to understand. Pollard’s enthusiasm for the subject comes through and he uses anecdotes from his own life in some cases to illustrate points. (I especially enjoyed the story of the two squirrels he watched as they attempted to break into his bird feeder.) Like many of these types of books, I do tend to get bogged down a bit in the idealism, but it can be a nice change from the pessimism that is often inherent in nonfiction. And most of the advice could probably be applied to starting any kind of business, natural and sustainable or not.