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Posted: June 01, 2011

On management: Starting your own business—step one

Mentally this comes before filing the
papers and looking for space

Pat Wiesner

Every once in a while someone will ask me how I got started in business.

In the early '80s I would have considered myself a pretty good salesman and a pretty good electronics engineer. I started my own little business because we were in a sort of recession, and I had always thought I would like to be in my own business. Besides, I had been fired from my job with another publishing company.

I jumped in, and in a couple years it began to pay me back.

An interesting thing is that I don't remember now ever wondering if we would make it, although there were plenty of times we could have failed. I never thought about it; I just kept working.

If you are thinking about going out on your own you have to realize that it is really hard, but it is really worth it when you do. And when you commit to it there are plenty of strengths and abilities that will come to you when you totally commit.

There is a line called the "I'm thinking about going into business/I'm in my own business" line. To have a chance at success you have got to get clearly, totally and irrevocably across this line. It's like being at the door of an airplane with your chute on, ready to jump. Until you are out the door, you are not a jumper.

After you are out the door you can't go back; you are a jumper. It doesn't matter how many times you stick your toe or head out the door and come back, you are not a jumper until you cross totally and don't think about coming back; you only think of how to make the jump successful.

And so it is with going into business. Until you have committed all of your effort, intelligence, ability, perseverance and whatever else you have in your soul you are not in business. Once you have it all on the line and there is no looking back ... you are in business!

It changes most people in a fundamental way. It seems to maximize all their creativity, business sense, willingness to work hard, insight into others and just general enjoyment of life. Those who have done it will tell you it is one of the most satisfying, liberating, electrifying, empowering things they have ever done. It is as though their being realizes that it has to perform the best that it possibly can in order to achieve what is envisioned. So it does.
And we begin to see more clearly the framework for success.

With this kind of absolute commitment comes sharpened abilities you never thought you had, sort of super powers that will serve you better than X-ray vision. You will discover yourself thinking of new ways to finance yourself even though this was never a strong point up till now; you will begin to think in terms of the needs of your customers because there lies one of the keys to success; and you will see more clearly than ever the true importance of other people in your life - family, friends, co-workers - because herein lies another key to success.

And it is true that you can return to the well as often as needed to re-energize yourself and your commitment. If you are like many, the only source of strength to keep you going when you just don't think you have another drop in your tank will be anchored in the original and total commitment to be in business no matter what and the tools and strength that come with that promise.

In the end, there is nothing quite like being the boss. Having your name on the door is a great feeling, and provides you with a place from which to do a lot of good.

To start in business one has to know "I really want to do this. I know it is a big hill, but I don't want to look back one day and explain to myself why I didn't try."

If it's right for you, do it!
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Pat Wiesner is the retired CEO of WiesnerMedia, publisher of ColoradoBiz. He still leads sales training for the company. E-mail him at

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Readers Respond

Yes, Krys, All you ever really have is your own ability. Have you done a thorough analysis of why you failed? Obviously there's lots of mistakes that can happen. You need to get a good business person to look at what you did or didn't do. DO NOT give up. The most important ingredient for being a business person is the spark to want to do it. You have to have faith in yourself and your work ethic. It's just as difficult to sell. I've got a very successful business and I can't seem to find anyone with some money AND the spark it takes to try. By John Wray on 2011 06 20
Any encouraging words to those of us who did bet it all and lost everything? By krys hartman on 2011 06 20
One of the best summations of what it takes that I have ever read. I get the feeling lately that we are entering a period of "class warfare" and if we lose the incentive to start a small business by vilifying the people who take the risks, we're doomed as a country. I always tell skeptics and detractors that when they hock their house, their 401k and sign their paycheck on the front then they can talk to me. I'd be afraid to divide out my actual hourly wage and I've been doing it for 40 years but I wouldn't change a thing. Small business people used to be the most respected area of business and I hope it doesn't change By John on 2011 06 20
I agree 100%. Until you "jump" from the airplane, it is too easy to put off the important decisions another day, and then another day, etc. Once you jump, then you have no choice but to make decisions, or "your parachute won't open" in time. Great advice. By Mark Trenner on 2011 06 20

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