The best advice I received when starting our publishing business was to double our projected expenses and to cut in half our projected revenue. That simple recalculation of our initial budget, I was told, would go farther toward keeping us in business than anything else.

I promptly ignored the advice. I knew that no matter which laws of physics applied to every other start-up business in the world, our product was unique and our market was untapped and the traditional rules wouldn’t apply to us.

Well, about six months into publication of the first Advocates, I looked back on how we had done.

Our projections for revenue were exactly correct, almost down to the penny. But our projected expenses… well, let’s just say a multiple of two wasn’t anywhere near enough to match the reality of our bleeding balance sheet.

So I sympathize with the entrepreneurs profiled in our main feature this month. In fact, I ran into one of them a year or so ago in a neighborhood grocery store as he was handing out samples of his product.

I didn’t ask, and he didn’t tell me, but I bet handing out dip samples near the deli counter on Saturday afternoon wasn’t in his original get-rich-pretty-quick business plan.

When you start a business, whether it involves selling $5 gourmet dip or million-dollar networking equipment or free neighborhood magazines, you pretty quickly learn one thing: If you want to stay in business, you figure out a way to do what you have to do.

Still, every time I read a story about successful entrepreneurs, it seems as if they’ve had it so much easier. The nitty-gritty, dirty-hand details of business startups don’t wind up in most of these stories, which instead focus on the initial idea, the great breakthrough and the seemingly inevitable resting spot in the lap of luxury.

You know, that’s what keep me going every day. I know – I just know – I can do better.


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