Starting up a business can be an overwhelming undertaking for someone who’s never done it before, and it can be especially daunting in a down economy. But entrepreneur and founder of Startup Professionals Inc., Marty Zwilling, says to just go for it.
Zwilling has a 30-year track record of demonstrated results as an executive in general management, computer software development, product management, and marketing, as well as in leading technical business transformations, conducting due diligence for investors, mentoring new technical executives, and overseeing business development, customer service, and outsourcing both onshore and offshore.
He attended the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana, where he received Bachelor of Science degrees in accounting and computer science and began his career with IBM, holding an array of positions including executive roles in software development and professional services.
A resident of Fountain Hills, Ariz., Zwilling is also a resident expert for Entrepreneurship at BTM Institute (Business Technology Management), a board member at Callaman Ventures, on the start-up selection committee of the Arizona Technology Investor Forum (ATIF), an advisor to the Arizona State University Technopolis program, executive in residence at the Thunderbird School of Global Management, and member of the advisory boards for several start-ups in the area.
Since founding Startup Professionals Inc. in 2008, Zwilling has helped hundreds of businesses — especially start-ups in software, telecom, alternative energy and medicine — get off the ground.
He recently took a few minutes to offer his expert advice on start-ups and entrepreneurship.
Why did you start Startup Professionals Inc.?
To “give back” from my business experience by providing assistance to entrepreneurs and start-up founders in finding business ideas, funding, executive mentoring, and business networking to incorporate a business, file patents, add an advisory board, and address operational issues.
What sort of training/education should someone starting a business have?
Ideally, training/education in the technical domain, as well as business fundamentals.
What’s the first thing a person considering starting a business should do?
Write a business plan, covering both the technical as well as financial specifics.
What’s the biggest mistake you see start-ups making?
Skipping the business plan, especially the financial parts.
How has the current economic climate affected the ability for new companies to get off the ground?
It’s easier to get started, with more people available and costs of office space and other basics being down. It’s harder to get started if you need funding, since banks won’t help start-ups, and investors are more cautious.
What’s your advice for starting a business in a down economy?
Start now. People are more open to change when times are hard.
What are the biggest hurdles facing start-ups today?
Same as always – good people, good plans, and good ideas.
What are some resources a new business owner should make sure to use?
Use the Internet to find what you need. It’s like the Library of Congress, only more current, and free.
Where can someone who’s never run a business before learn how to write a business plan?
Use the Internet to find samples, read a book on writing a business plan (any bookstore), and use automated software tools.
How much time should a business owner give for their start-up to succeed?
The average time for “overnight successes” is six years. Never give up.
What’s your best piece of advice for building a successful business?
Just go for it. You never get anywhere until you start. Most aspiring entrepreneurs are all talk and no action.
Find resources and advice for starting your own business on ResoureNation.com.