1. Know your product. Before starting her own business, Juana Horton learned the ropes at her former job: how to recruit consultants, schedule sessions, follow up with clients and do bookkeeping. She gained not only the confidence that she could do the business by herself, but also the knowledge necessary to do so.
2. Love what you do. "You can't work 65 hours a week doing something you don't like," says Horton, who works longer hours than she did as an employee. "I love what I do."
3. Find "incubators" that foster young businesses. Horton found allies among her co-tenants. Her building offers common training and conference rooms. The nearby Bryant College Business Information Center has a bank of computers she uses. And employment development company South Providence Development Corp. took her business under its New Village Industries wing, giving her preferential status in bidding for hospitals' contracts.
4. Be grateful for assistance. Purchasing departments and the Social Security Office were helpful, says Horton: "When you approach state and community agencies in a grateful, appreciative manner," she says, "they go out of their way to help."
5. Expect a few lean years. During her first year in business, Horton netted less than her prior salary--consultants' wages pared her profit margin, and she priced some translation jobs too low. Today, though, she earns triple her previous salary, and she expects her business, her earnings and her enjoyment to grow.
Joan Retsinas is a writer in Providence, Rhode Island.
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