October 5, 2022

You’re the Boss: Introducing Start: In the Trenches With Young Businesses


The adventure of new ventures.

One summer Saturday afternoon, I was kneeling on a barren patch of dirt in Brooklyn, digging flat-bottomed trenches with a trowel. It was 2008. My sister was trying to open a bar, and I was helping her prepare to lay bricks in what would be the backyard.

A few weeks earlier, the lot had been a graveyard of broken bicycles, hip-deep in rusty spokes, fenders and other detritus from a shop that had occupied the space for many years. Friends had helped my sister haul the junk away and level the lumpy ground; the project took on the quality of a barn raising. It was hot. We were grimy. “Sweat equity” wasn’t just a figure of speech. And I remember thinking that, although her enthusiasm might kill us, at least we’d all get a drink at the end.

These days, the backyard is full of activity. Patrons with pint glasses mill around the patio tables. Some of them barbecue on a pair of charcoal grills that a neighborhood welder built in exchange for a bar tab. It’s a simple story, one that leaves a lot of things out — including plenty of long nights, headaches and nails bitten to the quick. But it’s also emblematic of why I love new ventures: there are few things more infectious than the creative drive of an entrepreneur bringing a new business to life. I’m a fan of roll-up-your-sleeves, work-‘til-dawn anecdotes. They’re the kind of stories I heard every day when I was an editor at Fortune Small Business, whether I was prowling the halls of start-up incubators in Detroit or riding across Texas in a Winnebago full of entrepreneurs doing a whistle-stop product introduction.

So whether you’re in the throes of starting a new company, or you’re an old hand at entrepreneurship, or you’re just helping a loved one dig in the dirt, I’m thrilled to welcome you to Start, a new channel at You’re the Boss devoted exclusively to young businesses. From the outside, a start-up can look like alchemy: creating value out of thin air. But there’s no magic recipe to transforming a napkin sketch into a sustainable endeavor.

It’s a risk that few people are willing to take. Last year, some 6.5 percent of Americans — or just one in 15 — were self-employed business owners, according to recent data from the Kauffman Foundation (pdf). And though the recession has been pushing more people — sometimes called “accidental entrepreneurs” — into the ring, many of them are hunkering down and going it alone, rather than creating companies that employ other people.

In the coming months, we’ll wade into the trenches with this latest batch of entrepreneurs and explore the challenges they face. Where do the ideas that drive successful new companies come from? How do you transform an idea into a great company? How do you get other people to buy in?  How do you convince potential patrons that they actually want what you have on offer? How do you channel passion into profit? Which ideas succeed?

We will look at incubators, business-plan competitions and other efforts to turbo-charge new companies. We will examine disruptive ideas and innovative practices, perhaps diagnose a belly flop or two. And I hope we’ll prompt a conversation that takes advantage of the wealth of experience You’re the Boss readers share. Above all, this column is a start-up. You can invest in it by contributing your thoughts in the comments section or writing to me directly at upstartsnyt@gmail.com.

Article source: http://feeds.nytimes.com/click.phdo?i=f23da4bdfdc349fd760f6c6038609a15