Had coffee today with Marty Zwilling, of StartupProfessionals.com. It was a great time meeting with a fellow “boomer-geek-blogger-entrepreneur” from Arizona.
As the name suggests, Marty specializes in helping new entrepreneurs get started. This includes advice on business plans, funding, angel investors, patents, incorporations, and more. He also writes a daily blog, and has written two (about to be three) books.
His primacy focus is on nurturing and building small businesses that want to grow. But his site is a great resource for prospective consultants, too.
The catalyst for today’s meeting was a recent blog post - One of These Days You May Not Be An Entrepreneur. Marty listed eight reasons why many never make the jump to starting their own business. The same reasons prevent many from making their own JumpToConsulting.
Incidentally, Marty has impressive credentials. With a background in accounting, he worked in high-tech most of his career. His first taste of entrepreneurial success was at IBM, when he part of the “skunk works” project that spawned the IBM PC.
From then on, he was hooked on small high tech businesses. Even after retiring, he couldn’t give it up. (See Two Cures…). First he volunteered at the Arizona State University business school, and subsequently started his blog and consultancy.
Did I mention he has over 700,000 Twitter followers? A great marketing story by itself. Considered a thought leader for startups, he also writes for Forbes and others.
We spent an hour together as we pondered and commiserated about why so many “wannabees” can’t or don’t make the transition. Many are refugees from larger businesses, with the requisite experience and knowledge to succeed.
So what is holding them up? Two major issues seem to be fear and perfection.
–Fear - Some people fear failure, while others actually fear success. Both stem from a fear of the unknown. As for failures, I consider them great learning opportunities. And I never trust anyone who claims that they never failed. Either they are lying, or they were good at blaming others. (Once had a boss like that – in a startup no less.)
The secret is to face it and even embrace it. Don’t be foolhardy, but don’t let it paralyze you either. Ask “What is the worst possible thing that can happen?” Have a backup plan, but then move ahead.
–Perfection – This is a big problem with my fellow engineers. But a product doesn’t need to be perfect, it just needs to good enough. Same thing with a consulting service – you don’t need to outrun the bear – just the other guy.
In either case, you can always tweak the product/service later. Furthermore, the market will guide you in making those improvements.
Finally, overcoming the two hurdles of fear and perfectionism is not enough. But they are the necessary first steps in making a jump to any small business – consulting or otherwise!
P.S. - In a future post, we’ll cover Marty’s “success story.”
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