Sunday, September 17, 2006

Five Months, Ten Lessons

Great article in the Washington Post on the power of blogging, and its dramatic affect on the Virginia Senatorial campaign. We may be a small community of folks compared to the general population, but we are definitely a very powerful one. What’s truly fascinating is that the bloggers are paid for, yet people are still reading them and changing their opinions.

This power of blogging has given me a new novel idea (see below after list of lessons learned). And on a side note, given the exposure of his true self, I hope Mr. Macaca takes a big fall this November.

OK back to the blog at hand, starting a company. I figured that since the end of the week will mark my fifth full month trying to get this thing off the ground, it would be kind of cool to document lessons already learned:

1) It’s going to be as hard as everyone says. Starting a company from scratch is no joke, and there are always challenges you could never foresee. For me it was the flood.

2) Help others, don’t sell. If you really feel like you can help people and make their business lives better, they will want to work with you. For me this is a zen thing, it is the right approach to all of life, not just work.

3) Don’t work with unwilling, corrupt or negative people. If it doesn’t feel right, it isn’t right. Have a mission and rules to help guide you through these situations.

4) Credibility as a new brand takes a long-time to build. Success is incremental, and there are no quick home runs or sales. You are overcoming individuals’ fears about your company, the start-up.

5) Take projects to counter number 4. This may not be the ideal form of work, but it will help you build credibility faster. YOU MUST DO A GREAT JOB! Otherwise forget it, and go job hunting.

6) Get ready for a 30-60-90 day roller coaster ride. Companies don’t pay you when the work is complete, or when the contract says to. They pay you when the 30-60-90 day cycle tells them to pay vendors. Until you have large deals with the right kind of income, this hurts. A lot.

7) Have money saved to weather number 5 or get funding. The flood really hurt me on this front, turning me into more of a hungry, scrappy start-up. Fortunately, I feel like I’m at the end of the tunnel on this due to some Small Business Administration disaster assistance. Whew.

8) Find great advisors to suggest direction and help you.

9) Find great 1099ers to work with you until you are ready to hire.

10) It’s a marathon, not a race. If you can’t weather the long, grueling road of doing it yourself until you are big enough… If you don’t have stamina, resilience, tenacity and all-out drive, you will fail. You must get up every day, you must work, and you can’t complain about it. This was a choice. Besides you like the boss better, believe me.

Right on! OK, now that I’m only going to blog twice a week, I’m going to start writing once a week again for myself. I have already written two and 1/2 novels (unpublished), and have learned a lot about what it takes to be successful in this very challenging, unconquered media form. My novels tend to be a little too emotionally removed, so for this turn, I figure its time to try first person narrative. Subject matter will be a blogger whose anonymous postings put him in grave danger. Hmmm.

It will be good to get back into writing for myself. A little recovery of my soul, slowly returning to post start-up life.

OK this week’s quotes:

Resilience is woven deeply into the fabric of Oklahoma. Throw us an obstacle, and we grow stronger.”
- Brad Henry

You have to have confidence in your ability, and then be tough enough to follow through.”
- Rosalynn Carter


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