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Power User Spotlight: You Must Love Your Job to Be Successful

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Power User Spotlight: You Must Love Your Job to Be Successful

Published: March 11, 2010

For MaryAnn Shank, entrepreneurship is in her blood. She started her first of several businesses in the 1980s and currently runs BusinessFinance-One Inc. out of her home in California. She is also a business plan writer, a web coach, and a blogger

While managing her online business full time, Ms. Shank is an active member of the Business.gov Community. She often shares tips on starting a business and business writing as BusPlanMaster. In this interview, Ms. Shank talks about her passion for entrepreneurship and advises others to start only businesses they are passionate about.

How did you start your small business? What made you decide to take the leap?

I fell into starting my own business in the 1980s. A friend introduced me to a venture capitalist when I was working as a reference librarian. One part-time research job led to another, and before I knew it, I left the library and started my own specialized research company.

I took the leap because I am an entrepreneur at heart. Every time I work for other people, I do so because I have no other choice. Starting and running small businesses is what I love to do.

How has your business changed over the years?

My business transformed from a Model T to a Jaguar. My first business was a traditional brick and mortar business. I had one to five employees working at the office. Now, I run my business from home, have a flexible schedule, and communicate with my clients online through my website.

My clientele also changed. It went from 100% local clients to 50% national and 50% international. When I first started my business in Silicon Valley, most of my clients were from the surrounding area. Now, my online business attracts clients from around the world - Africa, Russia, India, Japan; any country you can imagine.

How would you finish this sentence?-I love what I do because. . -

I love what I do because I (1) enjoy the independence, (2) can find my own challenges, and (3) have the opportunity to help people. I set my own work schedule and better balance my personal and work life because it is my own business. Finding my own challenges means I can build my business in any direction I choose. I do't have to follow anyon's orders. Lastly, I can directly interact with and help my clients. I did not have control over that when I worked for others.

What are challenges you faced as a small business owner? How did you meet those challenges? What were some of the lessons learned you want to share with other business owners?

The arrival of the Internet was a great challenge and opportunity. Even ten years ago, I knew that it was going to be a dominant force in business. I spent five years and many thousands of dollars following wrong leads and hunches. I finally found my way online with my current online business. With the help of the Internet, my business has grown from a local to international client base. I cannot emphasize enough the importance of including Internet in your business right from the beginning.

The 1980s financial crisis was also a tough challenge. My first research business got off to a great start, but collapsed when the crisis hit. I did not act as swiftly and decisively as I should and my business failed.

From that experience, I learned to always keep two gears of thinking in mind: (1) success for the short and long term, and (2) the what if. Success means I constantly look for new ways to make my business more successful. The what if keeps me on my toes. What if my main competitor drops prices? What if the landlord jumps my rent by 30%? What if my bank goes out of business? Small business owners should always keep these two in mind because both are crucial to business success.

If you were to give a person who wants to start a business one piece of advice, what would it be?

Choose a business you absolutely love. You do't spend 8 hours working on it as you do in a day job. You spend 12-15 hours working on it every day and then dream about it at night.

Most importantly, your business can only be successful if you are passionate about it. Once you have the passion down, you naturally meet the right contacts and find the right resources. I find many businesses chasing after money. Your business will fail if all you care about is money.

You have been very active in the Community, answering questions and providing suggestions. What keeps you coming back?

I find the Business.gov Community refreshing. The friendly community atmosphere, the quality of the conversations, and the mutual respect between members are rare in other forums. Of course, the Community is also a great place to get your name out and network with other businesses.

Quick Facts

Username: BusPlanMaster
Date registered: 3/20/09
Total messages posted: 115
Total kudos received: 176

As of March 11, 2010


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