Monday, August 15, 2011

Plan A, B, C

How clueless is clueless? Even a small amount of research on entrepreneurship should yield two conclusions: It's risky and extremely time-consuming.

Yet the professionals-turned-small business owners profiled in this weekend's New York Times Style section seem surprised at how hard it is to succeed in business.

Honestly? I understand, especially in retail, that it would be more hectic than even a well-prepared individual had anticipated. But the subjects of the piece apparently wanted to downshift, take it easy, smell the roses and lead "healthier" lifestyles.

Becoming independently wealthy is probably a good way to achieve those goals. Starting up a business? Not so much.

The weird thing is that I and many, many other small business journalists, experts, advisors and CEOs have been warning about the pitfalls of entrepreneurship for years. Do it if you must, we say, but make sure you go in with a very realistic understanding of what it will take. And if you're not ready for the risk, keep your day job.

I don't know whether that word isn't getting out there, or whether it is but people don't believe it, or whether people bulldoze headfirst into business ownership without reading the instruction manual. Probably a combination of all three.

The good news: By the end of the piece, we learn that most of the business owners are happy they made the switch. I just think the transition might have been easier if they'd read the fine print.

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