The Tribe Has Spoken

Anybody can start a business . . . but not everybody makes it. Meet the entrepreneurial survivors.

How peanut butter and jelly sandwiches started is a mystery. All historians know is that during World War II, soldiers in the U.S. Army were eating them. But nobody knows who the first person was to slap such a pairing together between bread.

Why does this matter to you? Well, if you're reading this article, chances are you're about to start your own company, which means you're probably going to be strapped for cash, and PB&J may well be the only thing you can afford to eat. So now you have something to think about between those long, lingering bites of your sandwich.

Actually, you'll have plenty of other things to think about besides the origins of Jif and jam. Making the leap from employee to entrepreneur is a courageous move. Suddenly, you'll be making all the decisions. If you can't initially afford employees, you'll be the CEO, CFO, marketing executive, receptionist and janitor. If you do have enough funding to hire employees, that brings its own stress, enough to overwhelm the best of entrepreneurs. All this is bound to get you asking: How can you go from being bossed to being your own boss without causing your friends to make a few well-placed calls that lead to a lockup in a padded cell?

Geoff Williams is a part-time newspaper writer and full-time freelance magazine writer in Cincinnati. But he vividly remembers impoverished writing days where all he could afford to eat was his daily morning egg and forkfuls of peanut butter out of a jar for lunch and dinner.

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Geoff Williams has written for numerous publications, including Entrepreneur, Consumer Reports, LIFE and Entertainment Weekly. He also is the author of Living Well with Bad Credit.

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This article was originally published in the November 2000 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: The Tribe Has Spoken.

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