Tag Archives: Melinda Emerson

NYTimes Offers a Welcome Note of Small Business Reality

I was happy to discover major media dose of reality in Maybe It’s Time For Plan C in yesterday’s NYTimes.com. While it’s so much more popular to talk about entrepreneurship as a matter of passion and persistence and living the dream, I think it’s also important to recognize that failure is common, and failure can be miserable.

The Plan C in the title is a reference to Plan B as people moving out of their corporate jobs to start there own business.  Alex Williams sets the scene with the glamor of the post-recession entrepreneur:

In recent years, a wave of white-collar professionals has seized on a moribund job market, a swelling enthusiasm for all things artisanal and the growing sense that work should have meaning to cut ties with the corporate grind and chase second careers as chocolatiers, bed-and-breakfast proprietors and organic farmers.

Indeed, since the dawn of the Great Recession, more Americans have started businesses 565,000 of them a month in 2010 than at any period in the last decade and a half, according to the Kauffman Foundation, which tracks statistics on entrepreneurship in the United States.

The lures are obvious: freedom, fulfillment. The highs can be high.

And if you pause to reflect, there’s a whole lot of that new entrepreneurship going on. And I’m all in favor. I post a lot about starting your own business in this blog and elsewhere, and I’m a frequent recommender of books like Pamela Slim’s Escape from Cubicle Nation  or Melinda Emerson’s Become Your Own Boss ; not to mention my own book 3 Weeks to Startup . But all of those books temper the optimism with reality and planning. And that’s what Alex adds in the piece yesterday: the other side of the picture.

But career switchers have found that going solo comes with its own pitfalls: a steep learning curve, no security, physical exhaustion and emotional meltdowns. The dream job is a “job” as much as it is a “dream.”

Many are surprised to find the hours and work grueling.

Amen to that. I say yes to those who want to start their own business, but a careful, fully aware yes. Go into it with your eyes open. As this piece in the New York Times concludes:

Plan B, it turns out, is a lot harder than it seems.

Help With Naming: Am I Green or Not?

I’m not sure of the answer to this one; it’s a good question. A man whose last name is Green saw my post here turning green from overuse and he asks:

I’m starting a small woodworking and furniture building shop and am looking for a name. It seems natural to use Green as it is my last name, however I don’t want to be lumped into just another green company.

My immediate reaction was:

Of course you should use your own name. It’s not just greening it up in your case, it’s authentic; it is your name. And if it resonates because it also implies natural and environmental, all the better. Overuse or not, those are both good qualities.

But then I thought some more about it. What if potential customers see Green in the name and assume greenwashing?What if, as time passes, green acquires negative meaning, becomes a diluted term like the term user-friendly in software?

So I asked some friends in Twitter, and got some good answers very fast. You can see those answers here, and, by the way, that link in one of the tweets goes to Smart Industries, which was founded by Gordon Smart in 1963, and is strong and healthy.

So – and this is what makes this a good question – there is no easy and obvious answer to this one. Like so many things in business, it depends.

By the way, those smart and helpful people who answered in Twitter, should you want to follow them, are @rieva (Rieva Lesonsky), @smallbizlady (Melinda Emerson), @timburks (Tim Burks), and @frankdekker (Frank Dekker). Thanks.