Boss Life: Surviving My Own Small Business tells the tale of Paul Downs. Speaking with simplistic but truthful prose, Paul Downs describes the ups and downs of owning his custom furniture business for the last 24 years. This down-to-Earth memoir transcends economic jargon to preach a relatable story of sacrifice, resilience, and eventually, triumph.

Boss Life speaks with a particularly vivacious tone. Written at the hands of a renowned New York Times columnist (Paul Downs), the syntax and sentence structure flow together seamlessly to paint a realistic and inspiring portrait. However, though it is well-written, its real allure lies in the lessons it communicates to all who are lucky enough to read it.

Downs clearly makes it a point to focus on people. Although “he had to learn about management, cash flow, taxes, and so much more,” he was always “keenly aware that every small business…starts with people.” The author offers priceless insight into who to hire and why to hire them. Furthermore, he goes on to detail various motivational strategies each of which likely deserves a book in its own right. However, when said strategies do not necessarily pan out, Down sheds light on how best to let coworkers go.

Des Hague, Book Review, Boss Life

Further attuned to the theme of people, the author delves into client management with adept efficiency. He discusses the ideal purchase, describing with engaging and comprehensive prose, the significance behind a proper initial sales pitch. He pays similar meticulous attention to every step thereafter, all the way until (in his case) the final delivery of the furniture. However, all of this attention paid is not to discredit the story itself.

Forbes, after having ranked it among the best business books of 2015, claims it “is a memoir-not a manual-about life as a small business owner, complete with honest reflections on failures and shortcomings.” Boss Life not only stands on it own as a how-to manual guiding you towards financial success, but as an engaging narrative capable of transcending boundaries set forth by arbitrary genres. It speaks to readers not just in one market, but in nearly every market. It depicts the human condition while simultaneously offering sound financial advice. It offers a beautiful story yet never strays from its distinguished place in the fiscal community.

Truly, and perhaps remarkably, it is the best of both worlds. Downs discusses sales but reflects on hardship. He elaborates on bookkeeping but maintains his literary light. In one fell swoop, Paul Downs has appealed to the CEO of a Fortune 500 company while simultaneously retaining his Pennsylvania custom furniture roots. This memoir is an exercise in universal appeal, and stands to benefit anyone who decides to pick it up.

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