THE BRAZEN CAREERIST- Little engines: If you think you can, you can
Are you considering entrepreneurship? It's all the rage right now. Here are nine new ideas about entrepreneurship to make you think you can do it, too.
1. You don't need a venture capitalist, you are the venture capitalist. Technology is so simple that you don't need to pay for fancy programming or high-end software to get a business off the ground. If you can figure out how to pay for food and lodging, you can fund your own startup.
2. For a killer marketing plan, make a list of your friends. You know 200 people. Send them an email telling them about your business. If it's great, word of mouth will generate a customer base. If your business isn't great, you'll know right away.
This can also be true offline. Daniela Corte gave five friends custom-fitted pants. "I wanted this pair of pants to be their favorite pair," she says. It worked. After interviewing the friends about fit and texture preferences, Corte created jeans that were buzz worthy, and she grew a multi-national business from those first five women raving about their jeans.
3. Globalization is good. As long as your needs are well defined, hiring a programmer in India is a great way to save money. When Katherine Lee wanted to create a database of yarns for her business, Sweaterbabe.com, she paid an Indian programmer $250– a significantly lower price than US developers would have charged.
But you have to know what you're doing when you outsource to India. If you're looking for someone to hold your hand and teach you about online design, forget it. Pay the online designer her US rates and then send the design plan to the guy in India to execute.
4. You need to master only a small niche. Google makes searching so effective that customers with a very specific interest can find businesses with a very specific interest– at such a high rate that niche businesses are more viable than ever before.
Everyone knows a lot about something, so the best place to start experimenting is where you have a good deal of specialized knowledge– which is likely to be a niche.
5. Sell yourself. The idea of an Internet startup is to grow an audience first, and then figure out how to make money. So a logical place to turn to is yourself, because if you can build an audience, then you're an expert in something.
6. You don't have to quit your day job. But remember, not everyone is a genius on the first try. The trick is to recognize when your idea is going nowhere before you've sunk too much time into it.
7. Entrepreneurship is about choosing a lifestyle. Most entrepreneurs don't start a business to get rich, they start a business so they can live the life they want. Increasingly, they want to have flexibility to manage their own workday.
8. Prepare to flip. The 1980s brought real estate flipping; the new millennium brings website flipping. Not only are people auctioning their companies on eBay for denominations formerly reserved for successful garage sales, but there are more than 70 Internet discussion groups where people buy and sell websites 24 hours a day.
Tom Kuegler, partner at New Concept Factory, runs an incubator that's starting eight Internet companies each quarter. He estimates that most of these companies he'll "unload at a low price" and two of 24 will grow into "super companies." If this sounds pie-in-the-sky, consider that Kuegler has been starting and selling Internet companies since 1994.
9. Entrepreneurship is a way of thinking, and you can change the world. This idea comes from 18-year-old Ben Casnocha, who founded Comcate, a leading software company for governments, when he was 12 years old.
Casnocha says, "Entrepreneurship has a lot to do with business, but it's a way of thinking about things that everyone can do: seeing individuals as empowered; trying to figure out the status quo and then thinking about what we can do differently. If more people thought like entrepreneurs, the world could be a better place."