Letter from John: November 2011

My new favorite quote comes from a fellow entrepreneur and blogger, Tara Hunt.

"If nobody shares they are struggling, nobody will know anybody else is struggling. That results in a bunch of people feeling isolated and scared and like big, fat losers," she shared in the latest issue ofInc. magazine.

I think it's a particularly good thought for this post-recession generation of entrepreneurs and creators to keep in mind. If the past few years are an indication, starting a business is tough work!

I've done a lot of unusual things in my life. I& #39;ve backpacked Europe, explored slices of the Middle East and North Africa and slept in fields and train stations. I've hunted raccoons, gigged frogs and strung barbed wire. I've written poetry, tried to teach myself Arabic and started the hard work of raising a small child. But I've never really run a business.

That changed, of course, three years ago this month when I walked out of Luck Stone at the peak of the recession and decided to start my own consulting company.

People told me that the first and third (and second, fourth and fifth) years would be the hardest.

And yet the first year was easy, perhaps because we were perpetually broke. The second and third years got bumpy - our positive trajectory created a new set of challenges. I found myself grappling with foreign concepts like managing growth, managing cash flow, and forecasting. (Advice to new entrepreneurs: Hire a good accountant. Learn yoga. Don't look up.)

As our fledgling team looks toward 2012, we're doggedly optimistic. And as I meet with other new businesspeople - especially those just getting started on their own journey - I try to remind myself to bring a balance of encouragement, optimism and pragmatism. I throw in a few Floricane hard luck stories to keep it real.

I also remind them to be open with those who help them along the way - especially their families, friends and partners - and to let them know about both the peaks and the valleys. If they don't, no one will know they are struggling. And if no one knows you're struggling, no one knows how to help you move forward.