Creating Your Own Job

In the last month alone, I’ve received dozens of emails or people stopping in with questions about starting a business, because whether by choice or, more often, not, they are no longer working for The Man. However, they worry that a recession is a bad time to start a business, but I say it’s as good or a better time than any. So, if you have that great idea that you’ve always wanted to put to paper, here’s my advice on how you should do it in this shakier economic time:

  1. Start Slow – Use your free time to really research your market and product. “First Mover Advantage” is a myth. There’s no need to spend a lot of money and rush to get something out, because chances are you’ll make mistakes, and when the Second Mover comes out with a better product or service, your customers will switch. Instead, take your time looking at possible competitors and make a list of what they do right or wrong. Sample similar products. Make your own prototype and test it on your friends. Be the Devil’s Advocate with your business plan (or find a friend who’s good at that), and figure out ways to fill all the holes.
  2. Tap Your Friends – Beyond just getting their feedback, milk them for all they’re worth in their professional abilities. I have friends who gave me invaluable legal, marketing, PR and graphic design advice when I first started my business. I shamelessly exploited their talents, stuffing them with cupcakes, and I think they were more than happy to help out. It was a way for them to show off how good they are at their jobs. (I mean, how often have you tried to imagine your friend in his little office or cube and wondered what he does all day?) Now is an especially good time to ask for help, as even people who are employed probably have some extra time on their hands. (more…)

Customer Service MATTERS

Everyone recognizes that customer service is an important part of any business. Your emotional experience with a product or service is fundamental to your overall satisfaction with that product or service. Occasionally, your need or desire for a certain product can outweigh your customer service issues. (ie, I would rather throw my MacBook out the window and buy a new one than spend 20 minutes at the “Genius” Bar.) Sometimes even being mistreated is a part of the whole product/service experience. (ie, waiting outside a nightclub and getting looked up and down by a bouncer, only to feel THAT much cooler when you finally get into the club.) But in these instances where bad customer service is bearable, consumer relationships are fickle.

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New Beginnings

At Tribeca Treats, we inscribe A LOT of cakes. So it’s not often that a particular inscription really grabs our attention. But, about a year ago, we had an order for a cake that read, “To [Linda], New Beginnings.” Immediately, we were conjecturing as to what this meant. Was it and engagement party? A divorce? Did she start a new job? Or get fired/laid off? Did she come out of the closet? There were so many possibilities as to how [Linda] could begin anew, that we were talking about it for days.

I guess the concept of celebrating some kind of new beginning is not novel, but I appreciate the optimism in celebrating “new beginnings” in general. With 2009 just underway, it seems like an opportune time to celebrate new beginnings, especially in light of the economic climate, because every ending (the loss of a job, for example) also represents the opportunity for a new beginning. From the little resolutions we make to start fresh each year, to our longer-term ultimate goals, now is the time to celebrate what we have ahead of ourselves.

Over the last two years, I have received dozens of emails looking for advice in changing careers or starting a business. I have responded to many, but, apologetically, not all. I am hoping to use this blog as a forum to answer your questions (on career changes and more!) So please email or comment so that I (and other readers) can help support your new beginnings.

And, whatever you do, just be sure to celebrate the opportunities you have ahead–treat yourself!