This message over on FriendFeed from Mo Kargas caught my attention this
morning because I am hearing it more and more from friends, family, and
people who I follow in social circles on the internet. There is a
common running thread through the opinions of many people I know that
work, and that is a general desire to go do something different.
If you want to participate in Mo’s conversation – follow this embed.
Over on Toolbox I have been talking about the general state of
employee happiness and issues that employees and employers have to work
with as people seriously start thinking about the future. The employment picture changed this morning
with the addition of 4000 new positions that were actually filled in
November. While the December unemployment was “disappointing” in this
brief from The Street.
While there is a lot of dissatisfaction in
the employment market – if someone is really getting to the point where
they just do not trust the company the work for today. Many workers are
simply tired of the workload, tired of uncompensated overtime, lack of movement in the job, or any of the other issues that
workers routinely face maybe it is time to start your own company.
There are many ways of doing it, and there are literally thousands of
resources available to help you from the SBA through your own local
startup incubator like there are in Boston, Austin, Seattle and Silicon
Valley. There is funding if you can find it, but you should plan to
bootstrap your company yourself with what you have available to you.
Banks are not lending, and if anything are chopping credit risk greatly
right now. My own startup, which is growing at 300% year over year, had
its line of credit shut off and is unable to get a credit card from the
bank right now. We are pure bootstrap – we own what we have.
It can be as simple as my own startup, selling comic books online or as complex as Gist,
which is trying to blend the professional network into something even
more interesting than what we have on Linkedin. Regardless of what you
do there are some very simple rules.
1. You need to have found a niche that is under served or a twist on something that no one else has thought about. In our Lego internet – built of API’s and other building blocks like Amazon Web Services, Azure and Rack Space, you could spin up a startup in about a week including paperwork.
2. You need to have a passion about what you are doing. Again, my
startup is all about comic books, and while we are having issues with
the web site design and what we want it to represent, I love comics, it
is something I am knowledgeable about, and it is a good market to be
in. It is my “retirement account” right now, and I love every minute I
spend with my store.
3. Do not let anyone stop you – there are going to be many people
who will tell you that your idea is foolish. Dan, why are you selling
comic books? Don’t you know everyone is going to e-readers? That ebooks
outsold regular books by a wide margin on Amazon over Christmas? My
company is still growing 300% year over year, I have the numbers even
with the changes in technology, free downloads, and competition, it is
still a great startup and I am serving an awesome clientele.
4. Know when to pull out. You will know very quickly if you are not
going to make it. Give it a year, what does the trend look like, is
anyone biting, are you selling, or are you sitting in your basement
playing WOW? If you are losing money, it is time to pull out.
5. Know your strengths and weaknesses – hire for your weaknesses
and hire for your strengths, everyone needs a devil’s advocate that
sees your vision. Do not get all confrontational, but learn to rely on
the people you hire and make sure they are great hires. Startups need great hires, anything less could cost you greatly over the long run.
6. If you are building a startup and you are walking out of a company because of all the issues that you have encountered,
do not turn your company culture into your old company. If you are
concerned about uncompensated overtime – then do not do to your
employees. If you are worried about lack of promotion – make sure there
is enough slack in the system so that people can be promoted.
7. Read everything you can about being an entrepreneur – see if there is a local mentorship program like Seattle has with NWEN.
If you local area does not have something like this – there is an
opportunity here. It depends on how much you are a connection maker and
a supporter of other people.
8. Hit me up – I’ll tell you everything I know – make connections,
make friends, build your own support system. However my time is limited
and I might push you off onto other people if you go into an area that
I can not give good advice over.
There is a lot to running a company – but if you have really
decided to do so, that is a great decision to make, and probably for
the better. Do not be afraid of failure, do not over commit, do not
over spend, do not over promise. In the longer run though – this might
just end up being the best decision you can make today.
(Cross-posted @ IT Toolbox)