How to Succeed As an Entrepreneur in 2012

Earlier this week, I saw an interesting post by Scott Shane over at in which he highlights a trend that so far seems to have avoided media scrutiny: an apparent entrepreneurial exodus has been going on over the past five years. Though the number of people taking the entrepreneurial plunge seems to have increased in recent years, so has the number of people leaving entrepreneurial rat race.



After reading the post, it got me thinking. There are plenty of bloggers out there who have laid out what they feel will lead to entrepreneurial success. There are even tests that people can take that can measure their potential to run their own business. But the truth is that each and every year brings with it its own set of challenges and opportunities that can significantly influence one’s ability to successfully start and run a business.


That said, here are a few additional factors that will help new entrepreneurs succeed specifically in 2012:


  • Access to capital. Though interest rates remain at all time lows, and several leading economic indicators suggest that the U.S. economy is making some kind of a recovery (albeit a slow one), a recessionary shadow (or maybe cloud is more appropriate) lurks yet around. The housing market, after all is still a mess, unemployment remains painfully high, the government is in many ways dysfunctional and opaque, and our global economic partners don’t seem to be doing any better. That said, fiscal responsibility and caution still rule the day, even on a personal level. Many new entrepreneurs these days have taken to bootstrapping their businesses rather than relying on outside money. There has also been a surge in demand for microloans and more alternative forms of financing ranging from business cash advances to crowdfunding.


  • A very well-defined niche. One of the fallouts of the Internet boom has been an increase in competition and “noise.” With low barriers to entry, many have jumped into the pool making it hard for some smaller businesses and solorpreneurs to tread water, let alone get to a profitable place. The result: if you want to avoid sinking online then you need to find a very specific micro-niche.


  • Social media fluency. Though social media has been making small business headlines for a few years now, it has become all the more vital in 2012. While conducting an effective social media strategy takes some know-how and an investment of both time and money, it is an area that new entrepreneurs and small business owners cannot afford to ignore- especially with the emergence of Google+ an all-encompassing, user-friendly social media platform.


  • Patience and perseverance. Though being a successful entrepreneur often comes with a healthy dose of patience and perseverance, in 2012 those qualities will be even more important- especially in light of the above trends. It often takes time to get together the capital needed to start a business while not exposing yourself to unreasonable financial risk, and it takes time to develop your niche and brand, and then to go about building communities and followers around them.


The bottom line is that while the new year may promise opportunity for many small business owners, there are at the same time some very unique challenges to making a business work. It’s a brave new world and success will be determined by how well you understand and adapt to that which makes it new.



Why Co-Working Communities are Good for Small Businesses

One of the positive fallouts of the recent economic crisis has been the insurgence of entrepreneurism among those who would have otherwise worked for others. Along side this trend has been the emergence of a new phenomenon called “co-working.” For those who are unfamiliar with the term, co-working refers to an arrangement where budding entrepreneurs and current small business owners share a common workplace in exchange for a monthly fee.



What are the benefits of co-working for entrepreneurs? According to co-working small businessmen, the advantages are many. Here are several benefits to consider:


  • Save on overhead expenses. Co-working members pay a monthly membership fee and work in a communal office space. The deal includes the work space as well as all the equipment required to run a business- from wireless Internet and faxes, to conference rooms. Savings on rent and other overhead costs are significant.


  • Collaboration and partnerships. Many small business owners are forced to spend a lot of time on areas in their business that may not be their expertise, such as web site development or marketing. The co-working community is often based on the principle of barter. So, for example, an accountant may cooperate with marketers who are able to promote his services, while the former will handle the marketer’s accounts. This kind of interaction provides fertile ground for partnerships and greater chances of success for all the parties involved.


  • Mutual feedback. Bouncing ideas off other people and brainstorming are highly effective ways to develop in new directions. Even if only part of the community is active in your particular field, you still stand to benefit and you can pick up new ideas and areas for development. You can even create a unique business agreement in which each party chooses to deal with a different side of a particular business.


  • Business/Home Separation – Many businessmen who work from their home find that the business encroaches on their private lives. Often, no line is drawn between business life and home life. By joining a co-working community you can get your private life back and put your work where it belongs – at the office.


Co-working communities are rapidly gaining in popularity mainly due to the empowerment they offer each individual member. At a time of financial uncertainty, few businesses can afford to turn their backs on this kind of stability.

(Image Credit)

Laid Off? Get Back to Work by Starting Your Own Small Business

As the unemployment rate surges across the nation, a diverse group of people of various ages and backgrounds are suddenly being faced with the question: What next?

History attests to the fact that economic difficulty often spurs innovation and creativity, and our current economic crisis should be no different. In a recent post, I noted that the rate of small business formation is expected to grow in the coming year as more workers are laid off and a general sense of job security is threatened.

(Image Credit)

If you were recently laid off then the very idea of starting your own venture may be overwhelming (and rightfully so), but there is also much to be said about the opportunity that it creates- for you and your potential customers.

Here are some tips on how you can turn this setback into an opportunity to start your own business:

1. First, get some perspective. Try to stay calm and allow a little time for the news to settle. Depending on your financial situation, you may need to start making decisions quickly, and to do that you need to be in a rational state of mind

2. Clarify your financial situation. If you haven’t already done so, you should organize any bills or other outstanding debt, and determine your monthly expenses. There are two main reasons for doing this. First, you need to determine how much money you will need to support yourself in the meantime, and second, you need to prioritize your bills and expenses to see what can be forgone, what can be negotiated, and what can be pushed off outright.

3. Try to minimize the financial strain. Reducing the pressure of earning an income will give you the time and security to plan your business. If you need quick access to money try to avoid relying on credit cards, payday loans, or any other high interest forms of finance. Instead, attempt to negotiate a payment plan with your creditors. They may be willing to reduce your minimum payments or waive the interest until you are working again. You may also want credit counseling. There are a number of organizations that offer this counseling for free or low cost, such as The National Foundation for Credit Counseling, American Consumer Credit Counseling, and Advantage Credit Counseling, Also, find out if you qualify for unemployment benefits and file as soon as possible. Finally, you may want to look for a temporary job to ease the financial strain.

4. Begin preparations. Once you have a handle on your new situation, you can then begin the preparations for starting your business.

But if you lack experience or training in the venture you want to start then your fist priority is to gain that experience. To do this you could take a job in that area. For example, you could work in a restaurant or bakery if you want to open a catering business

On the other hand, if you already have the necessary training and/or expertise then you should check out the various programs offered by organizations designed to help entrepreneurs and new small business owners get the information, training, and even financial assistance they need. Much of this assistance is either free or low-cost. Some sites that are definitely worth checking out include: