Calling All Entrepreneurs

Posted by: Francesca Di Meglio on June 18, 2009

With the economy in turmoil, many MBA graduates are finding the job search tough going. To give readers some insight into the strategies they’re pursuing and the difficulties they face, BusinessWeek has recruited four out-of-work MBAs to write about their experiences for a new feature called “The Hunt” that will appear periodically on the Getting In blog. Comments, as always, are welcome.

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By Bryan Glover
I have been carefully weighing the option of starting my own business instead of continuing to search for full-time jobs. What brought this on? I think it was a combination of wanting to stay in San Diego, while acknowledging that there is a severe shortage of jobs in financial services in the San Diego metro area. In talking with a few friends who are also unemployed MBAs, the conversation always seemed to boil down to moving out of San Diego or starting a business to stay here.

In typical business school fashion, I am looking at the problem with an analytical set of tools, using pros/cons, a decision tree, etc. I wonder what angles I might be missing in the course of my planning. I am trying to stay current on economic news to see if this really is a good time to start a finance related business here in San Diego. I am meeting with a former professor who is considered to be the leading economist in San Diego so that I can get his opinion on the 12- to18-month forecast. I have begun writing a business plan, and I am about to look into domain names, trademark possibilities, etc. I think the only fortunate thing about being unemployed and knowing some other very intelligent unemployed MBA grads is that we have the time to do all this without having to sacrifice sleep and do the work “after-hours”.

Why am I putting this in my blog for this week? Because I'd love to hear feedback and suggestions from my fellow MBA'ers, employed or unemployed. I have never started a business before, but I have been part of a few early-stage startups as an employee, so my knowledge is limited to helping a small business grow. I have always specialized more in turning strategic vision into actionable operations plans. What suggestions do other entrepreneurs have? What might I be missing? Keep in mind, this isn't really just for me. I have a feeling many unemployed MBA types are considering starting businesses of their own in this economy, and I'm sure they could use the advice and tips as well.

I believe that this round of recession will be different than previous rounds because of the pervasiveness of social networking. As a group, we have access to the "cloud computers" that are our network's combined brainpower, experiences, etc. In addition, it is much easier to reach out to others than it would have been during that last major recession of the early 1990s. Just look at me and this blog. Fifteen years ago, there were no blogs and if I wanted to get in touch with the people in my network, I would have had to call them, leave a message, and then wait for a return call. Even then, I had to try and schedule face-to-face meetings with them to leverage their knowledge and experience. Now I can go on LinkedIn or Facebook, ask for help, and usually have it within hours, if not minutes.

In that spirit, what suggestions are out here in blog land? Has anyone started his own business and had that "I wish I would've known..." moment he wouldn’t mind sharing? Where should I focus my efforts first? In planning or lining up investors? I am open to hearing it all. I am not 100% sure I will end up starting a business, but I am starting the process to have it as an option. Even if I decide not to go through with it, I am convinced that some of you out there have some great tips and suggestions for other budding entrepreneurs who may be reading this blog. Let’s hear them.

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Reader Comments

D. Cyphers

June 22, 2009 05:12 PM

Bryan, I am not an MBA grad. However, I am the executive vice president of a recent non-profit startup called Help 52 Inc. In a similar situation to yours, my best friend from college and I were facing a bleak job market, but we were fresh out of school (BBA and Computer Science), with lots of ideas about making a difference in the world. 5 months later we started our company. Since, I've found full-time employment in Finance, but our start up remains our baby.

What I can tell you is this: speaking purely about starting a new business in this economy, it's a tough road. In financial services, because of the ill-will in today's public, I am sure it will be hard for you. However, if you're prepared to take it slow, and perhaps if you can find a way to make it not your sole source of income, nothing is as rewarding as running your own show. Every small milestone my company makes feels like a tremendous accomplishment to my partner and I. It's a lot of fun if you have the resources and the stomach to weather it out until it takes off.

Arun

June 24, 2009 01:17 AM

I am not an MBA (but was once an aspirant) and have started my own service company in the education sector. The kick of having your own company (read "baby") beats the downside of having play janitor-CEO rolled into one.

The best advice I have read is here:
http://paulgraham.com/startupmistakes.html

Cheers and all the best,

Arun

B.Lichtenberger

June 24, 2009 02:40 AM

Bryan, just use some more of your MBA skills: what's needed in your market around you? What kind of competences are missing? I am not talking about Knowledge, I pinpointing to your skills, experiences and personal traits which are going beyond your financial knowledge. Your competences might be needed in your market, not your knowledge as a financial specialist!

vlh

June 24, 2009 10:02 AM

Bryan, Check out two books by Dan Miller: "48 Days to the Work You Love" (for help with your job hunt), and "No More Mondays" (for ideas and advice for your startup ideas). Dan's approach is more right-brained, so his information might give you another perspective on your problem that decision trees and other analytical methods might not. I was a part time MBA student (currently on hiatus due to the economy), and I'm employed full time, but I've been studying web design on my own since putting my formal education plans on hold. I hope to start a small, shoestring-budget-sized business on the web. I also experienced the startup and bankruptcy phases of a dot com company I worked for in the early 2000s. Best business education you can get! Go for it!

Robbie

September 3, 2009 03:25 AM

Starting a business because of not being able to find a fulltime job is not a good reason to start one.
If you want to start a business, do it because you have a great idea or product,that, will make the business much easier to last.

My advice for you would be keep looking for fulltime job and be a freelance at the same time, and maybe you can find something you are really interested while doing cases as a freelance. After that you go for it, and become a real entrepreneur.

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