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Start a Startup

What gives on what it takes to start a startup company?

Would you like to be your own boss?  Set your own working hours?  Be held to no one else’s ethics or company vision outside your own?

Do you have an idea that is so unique and powerful that you can’t possibly ignore it?

Consider joining the growing ranks of innovative, courageous entrepreneurs launching startups all across the country.  As the economy slowly claws its way out of the proverbial WC, there is more capital available to small business owners, more confidence on the part of investors, and more demand from the consumer market for new ways to solve old problems, and for the ever-popular distraction from ever-more-stressful “everyday” life.

According to Inc. Magazine, the playing field has expended dramatically just in the past five years – now everyone from high school students to pop-stars, and ex-royalty to ex-cons are dipping their toe in the startup pool.

Whether you are fresh out of school, or contemplating a career-path “re-calculation,” starting your own company from scratch can no doubt be both terrifying and thrilling.  As with any other risk-reward venture, however, you’ll never know until you try.    Eric Ries is the author of, “The Lean Startup,” a sort of “do’s and don’ts” on launching a successful startup.  He defines a startup as, “a human institution designed to create a new product or service under conditions of extreme uncertainty.”  Ries believes, in fact, that uncertainty is the key to success.  Philosophers like Aesop and Plato would have agreed, having both declared necessity to be the mother of invention long before the term “startup” was properly coined – and so some things do remain constant in an ever-changing world.

Once you’ve decided to become your own master (congratulations!), your first query will inevitably be, “Where do I start?”

You probably already have some idea of what general industry your interest lies in – and if not, there are plenty of resources out there to help you focus your ambition.  Online magazines like and have recently published lists of the hottest industries for startups in 2012 – everything from E-commerce to Environmental Consulting, and Health Care to Pet Care.  At the top of the trends list across the board is the Tech Startup, with NYC leading the charge.   Rising from the ashes of the Wall Street disaster of 2007/2008, slews of newly out-of work, top-notch software engineers (former employees of the financial industry) rose to form the phoenix now known as “Silicon Alley.”  According to, New York is also currently the second-highest ranked city in the U.S. for attracting venture capital dollars.

That’s right – Silicon Valley, CA no longer holds the gross monopoly on the technology sector.   Tech startup hubs are popping up by the hundreds in NY and all across the country, and telecommuting has become a way of life.  The tagline for 2012 might as well be, “There’s an app for that!”

If all this talk of startups has put your enthusiasm for self-employment into overdrive, check out, “ The Startup Owner’s Manual,”  written by serial entrepreneur-turned-educator Steve Blank and co-author Bob Dorf – or for the cliff notes version,  try answering these questions for first steps:
1. Why do you want to go into business?
2. What business is right for you?
3. What is your business “niche” and target market?
4. Where will you get the required resources? (legal advice, insurance, equipment, location?)
5. What will you call your business? (This is the fun part!)

The final – and some would say the most important – step is to create a focused, well-researched business plan that will serve as a blueprint for business operations, management, and capitalization.  For tips on developing a comprehensive business plan, consider making use of the small business resources available on the IRS website, from the SBA (Small Business Administration) or contact your local Chamber of Commerce.  And if you know other successful business owners (especially in your market of choice) don’t forget that often the human resource is the most valuable of all.


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