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    10 Replies Latest reply on Jun 23, 2008 1:10 AM by ANGELPR

    So you want to start a business? This might put you off.

    SEOpro Adventurer
      Because I have started several companies over the years, I was given the opportunity to talk to a class of post-grad MBA students at the University of Washington lastyear. A question that came up was (I paraphrase) "What can I do to prepare myself for starting my own business?"

      Not expecting this simple question, for which I really should have been prepared, I trotted out a predictable answer: Write a good business plan, research the market well, keep your day job, be persistent, etc... Any student in the class could have probably answered the question, so perhaps my answer had little value.

      The question has rolled around in my head like a tumbleweed ever since. How would I answer the question now?

      Question: What can I do to prepare myself for starting my own business?

      Answer: Live as a homeless person for a whole week. Get yourself a cardboard box from some furniture store - one that's big enough to sleep in (even if your legs are sticking out) - but light enough to carry a few hundred yards if you need to. Only take with you the clothes you are wearing right now, plus an old coat, and stuff five dollars into your pocket. Find some spot in town to park your cardboard box.

      You'll probably have to panhandle to make it through the week. I believe there are such things as soup kitchens around, but I've never seen one. Your fellow homeless people will probably help you locate one.

      Doing that for a week will give you a sense of what it feels like when you hit a trough in your business start-up. My guess is, most folks wouldn't last two hours on the street, let alone a week.

      My cheery 2 cents' worth.
      Liam when he's at work. when he's at home. (not living in a cardboard box yet).
        • Re: So you want to start a business? This might put you off.
          trademarkGFX Newbie

          That is some wise advice. I have done something similar to that. I have attended a week long summer camp with the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) and worked on a wilderness survival Merit Badge. As a requirrment We had to spend two days in a shelter that we made ourselves, as well as eat off the land and such. It defiantley gave me a different perspective on life, and now on forming a buisiness and maintaining it.

          (PS) I am an Eagle Scout, and may not have been one if it wasnt for that experience.


          Brian Hall


          trademark Design
          • Re: So you want to start a business? This might put you off.
            Lighthouse24 Ranger

            The theme here seems to include self-reliance, adaptability, versatility . . . the capability to take on a situation you've never experienced (and that other people might dread or avoid) and come out of it better off.

            Thinking that you have that capability is important for an entrepreneur. Knowing that you have that capability (from past experience) is even better.

            It's the difference between, "Oh no, I'm sleeping in a cardboard box! How can I get out of this situation?" and "Okay, I'm sleeping in a cardboard box. How can I get something good out of this situation, and move closer to what I really want."
            • Re: So you want to start a business? This might put you off.
              EL_DollarShop Adventurer
              Plain & simple I just can't accept that concept of learning!

              Owning a business can be tough to start up, or just maintain, this is very true! But the one reason you create a business plan is not just so you can approach lenders for money, but a actual plan of action well laid out to what you plan to do with your business. It is the people that have a business plan but fail to put things in true perspective of how it can actually work that end up in the metaphorical cardboard box.

              Why not when you speak to students, teach them about integrity, honesty, and how to properly research the prospectus of what type of business they want to start. Is it viable, is it truly what they want, what is their competition? These are things you should advise them on, not discourage them.

              Please tell me you will never try to become a SBA member, or SCORE counselor?
              Because if everyone followed your philosophy, there would be alot more people living in cardboard boxes, and foriegn investors would love the oppertunity to take over every business in the United States!

              Just my opinion, you failed your students terribly!
                • Re: So you want to start a business? This might put you off.
                  SEOpro Adventurer
                  EL_DollarShop, you're probably reading a bit more into the post than I implied.

                  My observation has been that most business starters significantly underestimate how rough it is at the beginning. I've seen the odd exception, but the vast bulk of them struggle a lot more at the beginning than they expected to.

                  I'm just calling it as I've observed it. It's not my "philosophy" or anything like that.

                  And don't you worry. When someone gets the idea into their head that they want to start a company, when they get "the bug" as is it called, I'm not the one that's able to talk them out of it.
                • Re: So you want to start a business? This might put you off.
                  victoria Newbie
                  All I have to tell you all is be PREPARE for some high level of ANXIETY like you never felt before , you may doubt yourself often , sleepless nights , I just gone trough all these , some days are up some are down !! but keep holding on !! And find POSITIVE PEOPLE AROUND YOU !!!! Very important downers and cowards are not good !! and Keep your motivation up !! remember what was the reason why you opened the business to begin with !! Is your dream anyway and you are allow to succeed or fail !! Hopefully SUCCEED so good luck to all of US .Entrepreneurs with guts and determination!!!
                    • Re: So you want to start a business? This might put you off.
                      SEOpro Adventurer
                      One last ditty from me...

                      One BIG ingredient of a successful business is objectivity. It is not always good to doggedly pursue an idea with every last ounce of your strength, if there is a fundamental flaw in your reasoning or market assumptions.
                      As Seth Godin put it "Winners are quitters: They know when to cut their losses and quit a losing game when it becomes the right thing to do". (I paraphrase).

                      Or as my grandfather said "you must know the right time to shoot your dog".

                      Big thing, starting your own business. Do with your eyes open and your brain in gear.

                      Liam at large.
             when he's at work, or when he's at home.