Mariann Donato: Tory's Feedback # 2

Starting a Business

Given Mariann's extensive professional experience-and the fact that job openings at her level are few and far between now, especially in publishing-we've been talking a lot about the possibility of starting a business.

Initially Mariann's fear focused on money, or lack thereof. She doesn't have the ability to fund an expensive start up. Most people don't-and bank loans and angel investments aren't easy to come by these days. But starting a business doesn't have to cost a fortune, especially a service one. She's starting to realize that.

I want her to think differently about what it means to start a business, not to abandon the potential because she assumes she needs wads of cash to get going.

1) Meet the start-ups.

Mariann must talk to entrepreneurs who've started new ventures in the last two years. Hear their struggles first hand and also witness their triumphs. Those discussions often help to dispel myths about what it takes to get started and they can offer ideas and opportunities that she hadn't thought of on her own. Some of those conversations may originate with AOL readers who've commented here on our previous posts.

2) Identify potential partners and clients.

If she doesn't want to start a business on her own, perhaps Mariann's expertise would benefit a small business owner for whom she can work on a freelance or contract basis. Many, many small business owners would jump at the chance to have Mariann's sales and marketing know-how. These chats will enable her to get a feel for what they're looking for and what they're willing to spend. They won't pay her the salary she earned at the top of her game in publishing, but she could command a healthy freelance rate. If she lines up a couple of small business owners who need her help, she'll have the formation of something nice that she can build on.

3) Explore free resources.

Several organizations offer exceptional resources to help aspiring entrepreneurs start businesses. City government, SCORE; local libraries and other entities have free seminars to help jobseekers determine if starting a business is a viable option. In New York City, for example, residents can call 311 to locate the Small Business Services office nearest them. SBS offers extensive free programming to help people launch new ventures. Mariann could benefit a lot from these programs.

I'm challenging Mariann to spend the next 10 days having at least 10 meaningful conversations with a combination of small business owners and potential clients. It'll take some hustle, but she's on fire right now-determined to make big things happen. Let's root for her!

NOTE: If you have any job leads for Ms. Donato, please let us know in the comments below. Thank you.

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