Keep It Up

Jugglers multitask faster'n greased lightnin' and feel the weight o' the world on their shoulders.

Joe Elias has a lot going on. He's trying to get a brand new business, Write For Hollywood, off the ground. At the same time, he's figuring out how to offer script-evaluation services to aspiring screenwriters over the Internet. He's working to manage a score of freelance script readers. He's reading, critiquing and editing scripts himself. Finally, the 24-year-old is trying to do the same thing as the customers of his two-person Redondo Beach, California, start-up-namely, marketing a script of his own.

The last may be the toughest of all. "I read recently that the odds of selling a screenplay in Hollywood are something like 1 in 200,000," says Elias. "And I'm right there with most of our clients, trying to do some writing myself."

Elias is a classic example of a Juggler, one of five entrepreneurial types identified by a nationwide study of small-business owners for Pitney Bowes Inc. by Yankelovich Partners. Twenty percent of the entrepreneurs surveyed are Jugglers, which means they exhibit unusually high energy levels but con-stantly feel under pressure. That's probably because, more than other types of business owners, they try to do a lot, if not everything, themselves.

Other characteristics of Jugglers are an abiding concern with cash flow and a high degree of personal involvement in their businesses. They're uncomfortable with relinquishing control, are constantly looking for ways to boost business and tend to get impatient with suppliers who, they often feel, aren't offering them a good deal for products and services.

Elias, who started his company after three years working as a script reader for Hollywood movie studios, feels the Juggler cap is a good fit. "They hit it pretty much on the head as far as me being worried about cash flow and the growth of the business and wanting to bring the business to a point that I don't have to worry so much about getting the word out," he says. One thing Elias learned from the survey: He probably worries too much, especially about the fact that many screenwriters don't know that services like his exist.

When not writing, Elias stays busy trying to publicize and promote his Website, well as keep it fresh and inviting-and keep his freelancers productive. Fortunately, he has a lengthy supply of another Juggler attribute: optimism. That, plus his interest in a number of fields, gives him the perspective, flexibility and confidence necessary to find a niche, one way or another.

"I have a realistic optimism," says Elias. "I do think we'll be around. It's just a matter of in what capacity."

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This article was originally published in the July 2000 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Keep It Up.

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