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Go It Alone!
by Bruce Judson
HarperBusiness © 2004, 229 pages, $23.95 (ISBN 0-06-073113-3).
Do What You Do Best and Let Others Do the Rest
Starting your own business and doing what you do best is easier than ever, according to Faculty Fellow at Yale and entrepreneurial wizard Bruce Judson. Even though only 20 percent of the 1.7 million employees polled by the Gallup Organization said they had the opportunity to do what they do best every day at work, and over 70 percent of U.S. workers are “disengaged” from their jobs, most do not set out on their own and start their own business. In Go It Alone!, Judson provides the practical steps that can help nearly any person create his or her own business.
Judson starts Go It Alone! by dismissing conventional wisdom and explaining that you do not need to build endless financial resources and a team of employees before starting a substantial business. He writes that his tips and suggestions can substantially limit the risk of failure associated with a new venture, and describes the specific steps that should be taken before launching a business.
Keep Your Day Job
Although entrepreneurs are often seen as risk takers, Judson points out that this is only partially true. Sure, they are not afraid of risk, but as one successful CEO explains, “they do everything they can to limit the costs of failure.”
To actively manage risk, Judson writes, entrepreneurs often find a way to test the validity of their business idea before making it a full-time effort. He describes two important tactics of go-it-alone entrepreneurs, “While they are still refining their business concept (1) they reduce risk by gaining as much experience as possible with paying customers, and (2) they avoid putting pressure on the business for fast financial success by keeping their day jobs.” Describing his own experiences as the founder of a few companies as well as the experiences of dozens of other entrepreneurs and business leaders who were able to turn their personal ambitions into business success, Judson demonstrates how good ideas can be made profitable using the technology and resources that are now available.
Along with all the usual advice about performing market research and capitalizing on strengths, Judson also defines important concepts that can improve a company’s chances for success. For example, Judson describes the importance of businesses that scale, and explains that “scale” refers to businesses that can grow relatively easily without the need to hire many additional people, and can handle an increased volume of business without losing quality or overwhelming itself with increased complexity.
Go It Alone! addresses many of the central questions facing would-be entrepreneurs with detailed answers that come from his own experiences and those of others who have also gone it alone. For example, Judson spends a chapter describing how extreme outsourcing can be used to build a go-it-alone business. He writes, “The ability to delegate everything except what you do best is an essential attribute for anyone who wants to be a successful go-it-alone entrepreneur.” He explains that the best way to consider what activities can be outsourced is to start with a bias that you want to outsource every possible function that is involved in your anticipated business system. Then you must determine whether you trust the third-party business that will be handling the outsourced function and whether outsourcing the function makes it easier for you to coordinate your overall business system.
Judson also presents several examples of the benefits of outsourcing and a bias toward getting up and moving as quickly as possible; firms, such as TheraSense, the Synapse Group, and eMachines, for example, were able to succeed in highly competitive industries using strategic invention and relatively few employees.
The sudden adjustment from working for a large company to running a solo startup is also addressed by Judson. Here are some of the guidelines he offers:
• Know that nothing happens unless you make it happen. An infrastructure with resulting activities exists only after you have created it.
• It’s essential to recognize that there is no “A” for effort. After you’ve built in as much protection from risk as possible, whatever risk that remains is something you must own completely.
• Be prepared to sell. You must be ready to convince people that your initiative has merit, and convince them to buy your product.
• Be prepared to demonstrate credibility. A confident attitude will go a long way toward doing this. ~
Why We Like ThIs Book
In Go It Alone!, Judson offers more than just a guide for creating a new business. He provides motivational stories from experienced entrepreneurs, a realistic assessment of the risks involved and a listing of resources necessary to make the venture come together. ~