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Discussions of the idea of substantial go-it-alone businesses, established with few employees and limited capital, inevitably raise one persistent question among participants: “If it’s now possible to start a business of scale with no money down and few or no employees, how come we don’t know about any businesses like this?” This question is absolutely appropriate. As a society, we have become conditioned to believe that the business press is fairly comprehensive in its coverage. If new types of businesses exist in growing numbers, it’s natural to assume that the press would be writing about this phenomenon. But this is not a story the press has an interest in covering, and successful entrepreneurs, for competitive reasons, are equally happy to stay out of the media limelight.

Everyone’s heard about Andy Warhol’s statement that we can each expect 15 minutes of fame. Warhol’s comment is generally interpreted to mean that everyone wants to be famous. Today, we could say that everyone except many successful entrepreneurs wants public recognition. One reason most of us are unfamiliar with the formidable successes of solo entrepreneurs is these individuals deliberately avoid the press and all forms of publicity. From the perspective of the majority of these start-up masters, any value publicity creates is far outweighed by the risks it poses: Publicity may bring unwanted competition in their business arena.

During the Internet boom years, the press glorified Internet companies that were focused on offering stock to the public through an IPO (initial public offering). In effect, a symbiotic relationship developed between these firms and the press: Companies that wanted to go public found that publicity played an important role in generating interest in their companies and ultimately their IPO. The press happily obliged in this arrangement by covering

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GO IT ALONE! Copyright 2004 by Bruce Judson. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers. All rights reserved.