Saturday, September 12, 2009

It’s a little like home schooling


It's been a busy week: lots to talk about but little time to write.

I'm continuing to divide time between developing the plan for the client business, due at the end of this month, and plans for developing my own business. A college friend, now an independent marketing specialist, offered to help me sort out my strategic thinking. I made a good stab at writing down what I am in business to do: the experience of trying to do it is really helping me to see the potential structures, processes, and value around it. I still need to get it down to a clear strap line that says what it is, a brochure that describes how it works, and a web site that builds the brand around it. It's tricky, especially working alone, and it helps to have people to bounce ideas off of
Finding the resources to support a small business are a lot like navigating the community around home schooling. There's an underlying meme that we are the bedrock of capitalism, standing outside the big institutions, a bit alienated and a little superior. The community of individuals offers one another advice and support, experienced or sometimes just earnest, supported by a great deal of folk wisdom. There's an emphasis on having the confidence that you know more than they think you do. They connct to a network of suppliers, separate from the subcontractors used by large businesses, and scaled to be more direct, individual, and casual.
I've found good resources, aggregators like John Jantsch's Duct Tape Marketing and Pam Slim's Escape from Cubicle Nation, that sometimes offer solid business advice on key planning, operating, and leadership topics. I take notes on the best quarter of their interviews, trying to fit my own aspirations and experiences to the antecdotes and changing the way I'm approaching business structure and evolution. Many of the rest, though, fall somewhere between entertaining and hucksterism, traditional evangelistic sales or bright-eyed Web 2.0 naiveté.
A bit like Robert Bloch's "Hell-bBound Train", the cars are filled with gamblers and hustlers, dreamers and madmen.
     But, sometimes, that's what it takes to make a business.

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