For years my desktop wallpaper has been this New Yorker cartoon by Sidney Harris.
It is the condensed version of the advice I give virtually every entrepreneur who shows me a business plan.
It also serves as a constant reminder to question my own assumptions -- constantly -- about which miracles I'm counting on, because even after roughly 30 years of start-ups under my belt, it's still hard to remember not to take things for granted.
For people who haven't started their own business before, one of the big surprises is just how scarce the resources really are in a start-up. They think they understand, but they just can't comprehend how hard it will be.
If your last job was in an established small business or -- worst of all -- a big company, you've become accustomed to a lot of things just "happening" without a lot of thought on your part.
Not so. In fact, everything is missing: products, services, customers, employees, systems, support, capital -- you name it, it's not there. All you've got is your idea, your passion, and your time. The good news is that's 100 percent of what you need to get started!
Unfortunately, things rapidly get more complicated, because you're the one responsible for making sure everything else happens. But you knew that.
What's not intuitively obvious is deciding whether, how, and when to pull in resources. In fact, this is one of the real "arts" of growing a business, and it's different for every startup.
The other key to success is to be really honest with yourself about what you're good at -- and what you aren't. The natural instinct is to feel like you have to be good at everything, since it's your business. But that mindset quickly puts you on the short path back to a day job.
I'll dive into both topics more in future columns, as well as other hurdles you're likely to face as you grow your new business, including how to evaluate your options and make the tough decisions.
But where this goes is really up to you. I hope you'll take advantage of that fact and provide feedback on what you read. Best of all, throw out your own ideas and raise topics you'd like to see covered.
E-mail your comments and suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org.