The Tribe Has Spoken

It's Up To You

The important thing is the first step: Just start it. "A lot of people keep saying, 'I don't have that [start-up] money yet,' and they never get around to doing it," says veteran entrepreneur Jim Gustafson, a free-lance writer who left a $70,000 department manager job at a fast-food chain 12 years ago, when he was 42. In his bank account was enough money for one month. His wife, meanwhile, was earning $5,000 per year, just enough to cover their health insurance, by teaching half days at a Catholic school. They had two children to support "who were unwilling to take jobs at a Nike shoe factory," Gustafson jokes.

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"I wanted to be in a situation where failure wasn't an option," he adds. "I had no alternative but to make it. We had nothing to fall back on. So getting motivated was really easy."

Funding is important, but ambition is arguably more so. Rozner says that before she became her own boss, she envied other entrepreneurs and wondered what they had she didn't. "And then one day it hit me," Rozner says. "I'm just deciding not to do what they're doing. And that's what motivated me. I kept saying, 'There's absolutely no reason I can't do this.' "

Even if you have to eat a lot of peanut butter and jelly to survive, at least you're doing what you love to do, right? "If you're going to work and doing something you ab-solutely hate, why bother?" says Rozner. "No amount of money in the world is worth that."

Survival Of The Fittest

These nuggets come from Stever Robbins, a Cambridge, Massachusetts-based venture coach who teaches leadership techniques to entrepreneurs and upper-management executives:

1) "I remind myself daily of my goals, dreams and why I'm doing this wacky self-employment thing."

2) "I use marketing as an excuse to write articles and publish them on my Web site to explore different creative concepts. I work on the Web site itself as a way to keep my thoughts flowing."

3) "I make sure to have a couple of lunches a week with really cool people who stimulate and challenge me."

Survival Tips

Bill Lampton is the author of The Complete Communicator: Change Your Communication, Change Your Life (Hillsboro Press) and a business speaker and consultant in Gainesville, Georgia. Here are his tips for dealing with the stress and making the entrepreneurial cut:

· Get physically fit. "This helps prevent solitude, since so much exercise is social. Even while walking alone, I'll stop to chat with neighbors. Three mornings a week I go to a fitness center. One morning a month my sweating buddies join me for breakfast. Equally as important, exercise helps us maintain personal pride. And we can sell ourselves better when we consider ourselves attractive. Many studies confirm that exercise reduces tension-and with no steady income assured, there's plenty to reduce."

· Select a method for replenishing your spirit. "For me, that's memorizing inspirational sayings and poetry, and repeating them during my morning walk. Others may choose to increase involvement in religious or charitable organizations. Whatever our choice, so much goes out of us daily, there must be new intake that's energizing and uplifting."

· Close the curtain on failures, sound the trumpet for successes. "Tiger Woods loses golf tournaments but expects to win the next week. Any entrepreneur can experience despair by lamenting the contract that doesn't come through or the direct mailing that draws few responses. Far healthier to celebrate our achievements!"

· Play and relax. "Take a day off a week. Keep up with your longtime hobbies. Admire sunsets, wiggle your toes in sand at the beach. Honor your personhood to prevent becoming petrified."


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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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