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Arizona Republic, The (Phoenix, AZ)

Arizona Republic, The (Phoenix, AZ)

February 5, 2006


Author: Claire Bush, Special for The Republic

Edition: Final Chaser
Section: CareerBuilder
Page: EC1

Estimated printed pages: 3

Article Text:

Several years ago, IT professional Steven Fullmer was putting in 18-hour days at a large telecommunications company. After finishing a project that saved the company more than $1.5 million, "I asked where my share of the profits were," Fullmer said half-jokingly.

When management politely declined to pass on any of the savings, he had a moment of clarity. "I realized if I was going to work this hard, I'd be in business for myself."

Today, Fullmer markets his expertise as chief technology officer to small and midsize businesses in the Valley. Going it alone can be a wise career move. Before considering the leap into entrepreneurship, however, consider the following factors a blueprint for success.

Meet together regularly. Whether it is an informal meeting with fellow self-starters or a session with a mentor, career coach or established networking group, those who succeed don't try to do it alone.

"The nature of a start-up is that it's a solitary business," Fullmer said. "Accepting candid feedback fuels growth and opens the window to new ways of thinking."

Identify and eliminate time wasters. "Most of us who follow a great idea and launch a business are intellectually curious," said Paul Pickering, founder of marketing firm Pickering Consulting Group.

Wanting to know the why of everything can waste time, however. Pickering bounces ideas off others in his networking group and relies on fellow members to keep him on track.

"Otherwise, I'll be tempted to spend hours researching an idea that may interest me, but won't add to the bottom line," he said.

Pickering advises learning which jobs are urgent as opposed to those that are important, then devoting the bulk of time to the important issues.

While rushing around putting out fires may seem exciting, in the long run, it doesn't ring up sales. Productive uses of time include establishing relationships with clients; building or refining products and services; following through on sales calls; and completing required paperwork or presentations. Time wasters may include Internet surfing, running unnecessary errands or dawdling over paperwork.

"People who are averse to risk often mask their reluctance with time-wasting activities," Fullmer said.

Spot your pet procrastinator triggers and deal with them one at a time. This may mean setting a timer to work on paperwork, making phone calls at specific times each day or getting up half an hour earlier to plan the day's tasks.

Do what you know. Jim Gordon is owner of North Star Identity, a custom promotional products firm. Prior to its launching two years ago, Gordon worked for 20 years in a family-owned custom sewing and embroidery factory in Chicago.

"By starting as a supplier, I knew the other side of the business," Gordon said.

Today, Gordon has broadened his product line to include office supplies as well as apparel. His client list includes electronic distributors, real estate professionals and small businesses.

Profits are building steadily because Gordon is well-versed in the business and comfortable with its challenges.

Expect income swings. Even the best business plan often is slow to come to fruition financially. Expect the first few years to be lean, as a loyal customer base is built. Successful entrepreneurs have a safety net of savings and train themselves to stay on a budget. Often, those launching a business simplify their lifestyle to accommodate the new venture.

Forget the 9-to-5 mind-set. Recently, one of Jim Gordon's clients ordered a large number of promotional products for a company award dinner. A snowstorm in transit caused a delay in delivery.

"I spent Saturday morning on my home computer creating 'award certificates,' then drove around the rest of the day delivering them to the client's customers," Gordon recalled.

He kept the account -- and gained the respect of the client.

That's what you have to do, said George Fleming, business and career coach. "Whatever it takes to get results is what you need to do. Results are the bottom line."

CAPTION: Prior to launching his own company, North Star Identity, Jim Gordon (right) worked for a family-owned factory in Chicago. Here, he and Bill Reussing, director of marketing for DBL Distributing, discuss an upcoming event they are sponsoring.

Copyright (c) The Arizona Republic. All rights reserved. Reproduced with the permission of Gannett Co., Inc. by NewsBank, inc.
Record Number: pho126330923