Sunday, December 06, 2009

Six Factors that Might Explain the Entrepreneurial Bug

It's been more than a month since the launch of Tweetajob. Each day brings new surprises; since the mid-90s I have worked in corporate settings, in a recruiting role. How, someone asked the other day, did I come to launch an internet startup?

Well, I don't know, exactly. I have always been open to new challenges, new jobs, new companies, new ideas. I am also aware that I am fortunate to start a business in an era where information is so abundant, tools so accessible and ideas so plentiful that it feels silly not to pursue some dream or another.

So as I ponder the answer to the question -- how did I decide to launch an internet startup -- I think it is important to point out some of the factors that made it an easy decision.

1. SaaS and Cloud Computing
We started with next to no money. No big investors. No cushion. Every spending decision was is a big deal. Tweetajob is built using Amazon Web Services, specifically Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2). EC2 allows us to build a website with growth capacity. Equally important, we only pay for what we use. We did not have to invest in expensive server capacity early on. We employ a cloud storage solution for our database, and work with other Software as a Service (SaaS) companies to perform a variety of other tasks related to the website. Most SaaS companies -- like and GotoMeeting -- have monthly subscription models, providing us with world class services at affordable rates.

2. Social Networks
I definitely would not have had the courage to start a business without a solid network of advisors, mentors, potential customers and partners. Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Delicious, Slideshare and a few other networking sites make it possible to engage with my network as often as needed. I get answers, help, resources, responses, whatever I seek - fast. Marketing efforts began with a list of my contacts, an e-mail marketing SaaS, a blog, a Facebook page and, of course Twitter. We also rely on offline activities -- such as events and direct sales, but even those are augmented by social media.

3. The Economy
Necessity, as they say, is the mother of invention. Word. To the mother. When you know that layoff might be in your future, you start inventing new ways of making a living. I also give props to the economy because there is no way I, an unlikely entrepreneur with no money, could have convinced a high performing team to work for equity in any other environment.

4. Corporate Project/Program Experience
When I started this, I hadn't the foggiest idea of how to run a business. I like ideas and could spend all of my time generating new ones. I tolerate metrics. Budgets are a necessary evil. Meeting deadlines = credibility. A strong communication plan is the difference between success and failure. All of this stuff I learned while running corporate recruiting programs or projects. Turns out this stuff works when running a business, as well.

5. Luck
I've written about this before. Call it providence, fortuity, optimism, positivity (really, is that a word?), but it's definitely a factor. Just when I feel I've hit a wall, something lucky happens that keeps me going. Without some sort of motivational impetus, this would be just too hard.

6. Passion and Curiosity
I love recruiting. More specifically, I love thinking and talking about recruiting. I fell in love with Twitter and couldn't stop myself from learning everything I could about it. How it worked. Why it worked. The technology. The psychology. Who runs it? How and why did they come up with the idea? Then I found myself obsessed with figuring out how to make Twitter useful for recruiting.

I had coffee with a few recruiting friends last week. Someone mentioned that they just didn't agree that Twitter and social media were necessary tools of the trade. We had a fascinating conversation that could have gone on all day, as far as I was concerned. I never get tired of this stuff, which is good, because once you launch a business, you pretty much live it 24 hours.


  1. Carmen - I couldn't have said it better myself. Bravo - great post!

  2. Carmen, right on the bootstrap here. Downturns tend to foster innovation but I agree that social media has fueled this more than any previous networking tool.

    Firms like yours are the lifeblood of the body economic, that which seeds job growth.

    Word. Indeed.

    --Kevin W. Grossman

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