“The best time to start a company”

Cathy Mosca posted a New York Times article on TomPeters.com entitled “The Self-Employed Depression.”

Now, maybe I’m just too new to the ranks of the “self-employed” to be so jaded, but the Wall Street Journal today posted an article entitled “Processing a Software Idea Into a Suite Job at Google” — a story about how Sam Schillace, an engineering director at Google, got that way.

Serial entrepreneur Sam Schillace had been writing software professionally for 16 years when one of his ideas caught Google’s attention. Within seven months, he had sold his online word-processing program to the search-engine giant, where it joined an existing online spreadsheets program to form Google Docs. Now, he oversees engineering for Google products including Gmail, Picasa and Reader.

That’s a much more hopeful article — very positive about the need for perseverance.

Schillace says, “You start a company because you have an idea that you think will be great for some customer — and great ideas are always worth doing, even in a tough market. It’s also the case that many big companies are started during downturns and benefit from the added focus and discipline that’s necessary. So it might actually be the best time to start a company, if it’s the right idea and it’s done well.

Admittedly, Google represents a world that most of us don’t have the skills to aspire to. But there’s also a whole lot of ground between Google and “depression.” That’s ground that most of us can take, to one degree or another.

Here’s what I recommended the last time I was in this position:

… when I started, I almost had to be frantic about getting paying work. I can’t say it enough: pursue new work furiously. By that, I mean you should do all you can to  make sure you are doing an effective job of selling yourself, and not worry about much of anything else. Even if you’re not comfortable selling yourself, it’s the one thing you should be doing with all of your might. In my case, I did everything that the job search professionals recommend in order to get new work – networking, cold-calling, mass-mailings – and I put a great deal of effort into all three of those methods. I ended up getting work from all of those sources, as well as from other sources.

From Breaking Free, The Quest, pg 96.

on having a diversity of clients

“There’s no greater security than having a diverse client base,” Irish Tom said….

My thought was that I could offer harried marketing managers the opportunity to take such hectic times off their hands, (whether on a monthly or quarterly basis), and give them the opportunity to bring more order into their lives.

I also recognized that there were peaks and valleys in workload, such as at times before conventions and sales meetings, when there were scrambles to get many things done on time. “I can help you get those projects done, and there is no need to hire another staff person who will only sit around and waste time during the off-peak periods,” I would say.

As well, I imagined myself sitting down in front of a potential client and saying, “Mr. client, you should use me because I’m the best person for this job. No one else will bring more competence and enthusiasm to this project than I would bring. If this has been a headache project for you, then your headache days are over. If you’ve had a lot of turnover, I can bring a kind of stability that even a full time person can’t bring, because I’m taking the long view; I want to be doing this for a long time.”

From Breaking Free, The Quest.