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Special section 6 ways to get ahead in the office or get out

Think you've got what it takes to be the next big thing? There are people who can help you on your way.

So you want to be your own boss ...

Mitch Axelrod agrees. Author of "Success-abilities: 21 Life Skills for the 21st Century," Axelrod started his own company right after college selling life-skill learning tools, but soon realized that he had little interest in the financial aspect of his business. He sought out experienced associates to handle his money matters so that he could focus solely on creating new products.

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"Owning your own business has changed from an independent venture to an interdependent venture because business has gotten so complicated," he states. "Times have changed from when you could open up a pizza shop and customers would come just because you were making great pizza. It's not that simple anymore."

Be prepared for the hard times
Competition, long work hours, insufficient capital and a lack of experience are all reasons why the majority of startups don't last long. Government statistics indicate that only one in 25 new businesses continue to operate for 10 years or longer.

Axelrod warns that entrepreneurs must be able to face the emotional and psychological obstacles of operating their own business. He adds that owning your own business will likely not mean that you will have more money or free time.

"You've got to be willing to deal with [financial] uncertainty," he says. "You must be willing to live with a deferred reward. Very few businesses make money in their first year."

Learning to fail is an important part of the process in many cases. Failure will happen in both large and small ways and navigating through the troughs is part of the learning process.

Kuna advises that would-be-business owners do their homework before anything and cultivate a tough sense of persistence. "Never, ever lose sight of what your vision is," she says. "And then never ever give up or take no for an answer, for every 10 no's you're going to get one yes somewhere."

Help groups for entrepreneurs
The potential pitfalls could scare off most budding entrepreneurs. But the good news is that there are several places that offer training and education that can minimize the risks involved.

The SBA, or Small Business Administration, offers online classes on the subject, and also operates a help line for questions and problems about starting and running a business. You can reach the SBA at 1-800-827-5722. SCORE, Counselors to America's Small Business, is another educational alternative for first-time business owners. You can reach SCORE at (800) 634-0245. SCORE members are trained to serve as counselors, advisers and mentors to aspiring entrepreneurs and business owners. These services are offered at no fee through e-mail, or by setting up a counseling appointment at a local office.

Entrepreneurs can also enroll in the U.S. Junior Chamber of Commerce's Junior Chamber Center for Business Advancement program. The program covers such topics as choosing a business, finding funding and developing marketing strategies. Contact your local Jaycee chapter for class availability.

"If you're going to start your own business it doesn't matter where you went to school, unless you're going to raise venture capital -- then having an MBA degree from Harvard might help you," concludes Axelrod. "What you learned while there is more important than where you went."

Create a news alert for "saving"
-- Updated: Jan. 15, 2007
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