Advice for today’s entrepreneurs

Although the the NYTimes story No Jobs? Young Graduates Make Their Own is aimed at young entrepreneurs, its recommendations are applicable to older new biz founders, too.

  • Seek out mentoring and advice.  Scott Gerber, 27, featured in the story, has founded the Young Entrepreneur Council targeted at 17 to 33 year olds, but there are other business mentoring organizations, such as SCORE that offer free assistance to all ages.
  • Entrepreneurship can be a viable choice, especially when the alternative is unemployment.
  • The tools and ability to become an entrepreneur are more readily accessible at lower cost through the Internet — office space can be virtual and skills, such as Web design, can be learned online.
  • Start on a shoestring to avoid building up debts.


Steve Smith said:

For those potential entrepreneurs, there are a couple of resources that could be useful to some individuals in some situations. Those individuals who have some talent at making things (or painting, creating, etc.), a website called is a marketplace for all things handmade. It could be a possible way to earn some extra money, and/or if the talent is there, a new source of employment. To those who are employed, buying things on the site would help keep someone employed. The second resource is a website called They have a plethora of how-to videos for rent on a wide range of topics. Some individuals could use these videos to attain enough skills to do certain jobs. And these jobs could help them get some additional income in some cases.

Sue said:

Steve, thank you very much for your helpful comments directed at entrepreneurs on our site. How did you find us? In January 2011, we will be doing some interviewing in Pennsylvania where there is a program to help people found companies. Several laid-off older workers have used the resources offered by the program to help them launch their new businesses. Please continue to add your thoughts and the benefit of your experience as a small business owner to our site.

Steve Smith said:

I have a small service business in Tennessee--pressure washing, awning cleaning and gutter cleaning--and I would be happy to assist anyone who is interested in starting this kind of business in their area. I have been self-employed for most of my adult life from the time I graduated college. If you are individual who thinks that you would like to be in business for yourself, then there are some local resources that can help you get started. However, these resources, from my experience, are often too general in nature. One way to get specific information on running a particular business is to get a newspaper from another area of the country than your own and check the business directory of the newspaper (near the classifieds usually). Look for a type of business you would like to be involved in. If you have few funds to get started, then choose one that requires low startup resources. Then, get a few back issues of the newspaper and see which advertisers in that section have been advertising continuously for in all those back issues. This will give you a pretty good indication that a particular business is at least doing ok or otherwise it would not keep advertising. Checking back issues over several years would be even more instructive. Now, contact the individuals who run those businesses and tell them that you live in another area of the country (they should be able to tell this from caller id of your phone number) and you have become unemployed and would like to start a business in your area like what they do. Ask only for their advice on how to set up such a business. You may get some who do not call you back but persist and you will get people who will help you. You may find they might even have family or friends in your town (it is a small world sometimes) who can assist you further or maybe even be your customers. As long as the business person understands that you will not be in competition with them in any way, it is hard to imagine why they would not want to help to some degree. You might have to try more than one city and that might not be a bad idea anyway as it could give you more than one perspective on how to run a specific business. Good luck to you all and let me know if I can help in any way. My email is

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