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Go-It-Alone Businesses

Think your biz will never succeed if you go it alone? Think again.

There's no time like the present to start a business. And according to Bruce Judson, senior faculty fellow at the Yale School of Management in New Haven, Connecticut, it's easier than ever to start a substantial business with your army of one. Judson, who wrote Go It Alone: The Secret to Building a Successful Business on Your Own--available at www.brucejudson.com--points to technology as the main reason people can do it so easily.

"Many easy-to-use services on the internet are designed for startup businesses," says Judson, an entrepreneur himself. Because so many services are relatively inexpensive and based on monthly fees, you can "leverage your talents and time in ways that were impossible before." Outsource what you can, and concentrate on what you do best.

Judson's three defining criteria for a go-it-alone business: It's started and run entirely by a small number of people (generally one to six); it's started with the idea that it will grow in terms of a potentially unlimited income rather than employees; and it requires minimal investment. The key to a successful one-person startup is not a revolutionary idea, says Judson: "It's executing fabulously."

If you think you're ready to give it a go, Judson has a few tips. "People succeed in markets and areas where they don't expect to," he says, so be flexible. And don't rush the idea. Like remodeling, it will still cost more than you expect it to and take more time than anticipated. Since most people start their own business while still employed, Judson notes, "the real cost of it is some weekends and some sleep."

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This article was originally published in the October 2006 print edition of Entrepreneur's StartUps with the headline: Flying Solo.

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