Mariann Donato: Tory's Feedback # 2

Starting a Business

Given Mariann's extensive professional experience-and the fact that job openings at her level are few and far between now, especially in publishing-we've been talking a lot about the possibility of starting a business.

Initially Mariann's fear focused on money, or lack thereof. She doesn't have the ability to fund an expensive start up. Most people don't-and bank loans and angel investments aren't easy to come by these days. But starting a business doesn't have to cost a fortune, especially a service one. She's starting to realize that.

I want her to think differently about what it means to start a business, not to abandon the potential because she assumes she needs wads of cash to get going.

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1) Meet the start-ups.

Mariann must talk to entrepreneurs who've started new ventures in the last two years. Hear their struggles first hand and also witness their triumphs. Those discussions often help to dispel myths about what it takes to get started and they can offer ideas and opportunities that she hadn't thought of on her own. Some of those conversations may originate with AOL readers who've commented here on our previous posts.

2) Identify potential partners and clients.

If she doesn't want to start a business on her own, perhaps Mariann's expertise would benefit a small business owner for whom she can work on a freelance or contract basis. Many, many small business owners would jump at the chance to have Mariann's sales and marketing know-how. These chats will enable her to get a feel for what they're looking for and what they're willing to spend. They won't pay her the salary she earned at the top of her game in publishing, but she could command a healthy freelance rate. If she lines up a couple of small business owners who need her help, she'll have the formation of something nice that she can build on.

3) Explore free resources.

Several organizations offer exceptional resources to help aspiring entrepreneurs start businesses. City government, SCORE; local libraries and other entities have free seminars to help jobseekers determine if starting a business is a viable option. In New York City, for example, residents can call 311 to locate the Small Business Services office nearest them. SBS offers extensive free programming to help people launch new ventures. Mariann could benefit a lot from these programs.

I'm challenging Mariann to spend the next 10 days having at least 10 meaningful conversations with a combination of small business owners and potential clients. It'll take some hustle, but she's on fire right now-determined to make big things happen. Let's root for her!

NOTE: If you have any job leads for Ms. Donato, please let us know in the comments below. Thank you.

Next: Mariann Explores Starting a Business >>

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Tory Johnson


Tory Johnson is an award-winning workplace guru, national network television contributor, popular speaker and New York Times bestselling author.  She is the CEO of Women For Hire, now celebrating its 11th year producing high caliber recruiting events attended by more than 25,000 women annually, and the founder of WaggleForce, a national network of local job clubs. Tory is the workplace contributor on ABC's Good Morning America. Dubbed the "workplace fairy godmother" by Glamour magazine, Tory speaks frequently about career advancement nationwide. Her newest book is Fired to Hired, which chronicles her personal pink slip and offers specific advice on getting back to work.

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I am so glad to see that you are exploring entrepreneurship finally! I had been looking at home-based businesses for years as a single mom, but only last year did I finally find a company / service that I felt I could proudly align with. I am so happy that I did not give up the search because I really love having my own business, and it is so liberating and empowering!! It definitely does not have to cost a lot of money, and there are REAL businesses that are not about "magic" or "making money while you sleep", but offer real products or services, and allow your average person to sustain a solid financial future for themselves. I encourage Mariann to seriously consider this option, but to keep her eyes open, do all her research, and consider each one against a checklist of things that she wants in whatever business she might consider. (I created this checklist for myself, and it made it MUCH easier to separate the wheat from the chaff when I was doing my search for legitimate home-based business. I'd be happy to provide my checklist to Mariann, or anyone, if she'd like to use it in her 10-day mission. Just email me and I'll forward it right on!

April 29 2010 at 2:44 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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