From working for a series of down-and-dirty start-ups just after college, to being a self-employed author and business consultant, I’ve spent a couple decades as a small business geek. My books include The Women’s Small Business Start-Up Kit, The Small Business Start-Up Kit, The Small Business Start-Up Kit for California and Starting & Building a Nonprofit, all published by Nolo.
Writing how-to business books came about pretty organically for me. I’ve always had a knack for understanding bureaucratic processes—and a somewhat perverse pleasure in tackling them. As long as I can remember, I’ve been the go-to person among my friends and family for advice on handling these sorts of tasks. As in, “Peri, how can I drop my Psychology 101 class after the drop deadline without paying a penalty?” or “Peri, how can I get my car un-booted from DMV when I can’t find my driver’s license and my car still has out-of-state plates?” That sort of thing.
I’ve also always been drawn to small, independent businesses and start-ups. After college and during law school I worked at a couple start-up newspapers and learned the good, the bad and the very ugly about starting and running a successful small business. (Despite all odds, both papers are still in print.) From that point, I knew I wasn’t interested in working at any big corporate jobs—or practicing law, for that matter. Instead, after getting my law degree I got my first “real” job in 1996 as an editor at Nolo, the nation’s leading publisher of how-to legal and business information. It couldn’t have been a better fit for me.
After a few years at Nolo, I transitioned to full-time self-employment in 2001. Besides continuing to write books and other resources for Nolo, I own and run a small firm, P-Brain Media, that provides editorial and communications services to businesses and nonprofits. I spent several years teaching entrepreneurship courses at a wonderful nonprofit in Albuquerque, WESST (for Women’s Economic Self-Sufficiency Team), whose mission is to alleviate poverty by facilitating entrepreneurship among women and minorities in the state of New Mexico. I’m a huge fan of local, independent businesses and in 2003 I co-founded the Albuquerque Independent Business Alliance.
For me, the best part of self-employment is freedom—including freedom to organize my days as I see fit, and creative freedom to execute my ideas, my way. And as much as I like my work, I love the freedom to put work to the side whenever that’s feasible. I’ve got too many interests and always seem to have some harebrained project underway, from making meatloaf sushi to shooting short films about alcoholic potatoes with my husband Turtle O’Toole. I accidentally started my first band The Moist Towelettes at the age of 40 with Turtle, and since then have played in a number of bands including my own downer-country project, Peri & the FAQs. I feel incredibly lucky to have as supportive a husband/partner in crime as I do with Turtle, and our two awe-inspiring little kids keep me inspired every day.