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Doing a startup

Updated: 2010-11-23T16:10:41Z

By chance or choice, young people are starting their own businesses. Welcome to “the brand called you,” as management guru Tom Peters famously called it.

That brand, as an independent contractor or an entrepreneur, requires a different mindset from being a payroll employee: Marketing savvy. Comfort with risk. Self-motivation.

The Internet teems with entrepreneurship tests and how-to-start-a-business advice. Resources range from in-depth Kauffman FastTrack programs, offered by affiliate schools and organizations around the country, to once-over-lightly self-assessments of one’s entrepreneurial character.

Who’ll succeed? Those who have products or services for which there are viable markets, who price what they’re selling at competitive, profitable rates, and who reach the markets they need to reach.

Going into business for yourself? You’ll need to:

•Research whether there is a market for your product or service.

•Do an in-depth self-assessment. Do you have the stamina, confidence and organizational skills needed?

•Find a mentor. Ask questions and learn from someone who has done what you want to do.

•Know that you have or can get start-up capital without jeopardizing all your personal assets.

•Get legal and financial advice before signing contracts.

•Market yourself. Use social media and in-person networking to get the word out.

And if you’re starting a business while you’re still working for an employer:

•Know whether you have an employment agreement that prevents you from competing with your employer.

•Don’t abuse company time, equipment, property or Internet access to pursue your startup. Better yet, don’t use them at all.

•Even if you confine your side business to after-hour and noncompetitive work, balance the wisdom of keeping it secret or being upfront.

| Diane Stafford

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