It’s the big moment where I tell you to go check out BrazenCareerist.com. It’s the first stage of our company, and it’s a network of fifty young bloggers who I love, all blogging about their professional interests.

This would be a great time to tell you the grand story of the birth of my grand company.

When people tell you about their company they always tell you the mythology. You know Pierre Omidyar deciding to sell his girlfriend’s Pez containers and then making eBay, James Hong talking about sorting through photos of girls with his dad in the early days of hotornot. But those stories are really the ones you create after the fact.

During the very early days of a startup, there is no mythology. There is only doubt, Ramen, and fighting. For the lucky few founders, there is probably some smooth-things-over sex, but mostly early startup life is suffering. Suffering with a twist.

The twist is that entrepreneurs are generally very optimistic, so we can spin suffering into fun. I never thought of myself as optimistic until I took a test in Oprah’s magazine and found that I was so optimistic that I’m maybe borderline delusional.

But without the optimism, here’s what a startup really looks like: nothing.

For a while, my startup was my column. I always knew it was the basis for something bigger, but I couldn’t tell people that. People think you’re crazy if you tell them you’re doing a business when it doesn’t look like a business. So I kept building my column and the audience and then my blog and its audience until I could think of a company to launch with it.

What I’ve learned by now is that when you start doing your company, there is nothing really to do, and everything to think about. In fact, researchers know that there is no single entrepreneurial trait that predicts success except the propensity to mitigate risk. That’s right. Entrepreneurs are not crazy risk takers but rather people who are trying to decrease the risk as much as they can.

So successful entrepreneurs decide to start a company and then think about it. They play with it in their mind. Maybe they talk about it, just a little. And then they make a commitment to the company, and you know what? Nothing changes. It still looks like a lot of nothing, because it’s mostly just thinking.

And there’s no one to talk to because you’ve been fighting with your partner for weeks because you’re so angry that there’s nothing to do. And you can’t talk to your friends or business associates because they’ll say “When are you going to start your company?” and you’ll snap, “I told you ten times that I already have started the company.”

If people knew what they were doing at the beginning of the startup then early investments would be much less risky. But the truth is that business plans are so apt to change that no angel investor has even asked us for one.

Here’s our business plan: Leverage our established brand to build a big community of young professionals. Here’s what we have: a network of fifty bloggers who have agreed to participate in a community of people helping each other with careers.

And this is also happening: we have a slew of companies asking us to consult with them to tell them how to deal with Generation Y. But that is not in our business plan. We are so excited to take in money that we’re doing it anyway.

Our mythology will not be about how we spent months not knowing for sure what to do, and sort of launching and then pulling back to rejigger things and then going at it again. That is not typical startup mythology; that is typical startup constipation.

Our mythology is going to be something like: we knew we were experts in Generation Y, and we did a lot of consulting to fund a community of young professionals. Or, maybe our mythology will be that crazy startup that Penelope couldn’t stop blogging about.

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  1. Ken
    Ken says:

    I’m trying to figure out how money can be made from such a site. Advertising, sure. I don’t see much of it…yet…but how will BC be able to squeeze in advertisements in an already crowded space?

    Will you have to share advertising revenues with the other bloggers, or are they strictly volunteers?

    Also, you mentioned in your CNN interview that advertising is one of the recession-proof careers, that you can use it anywhere.

    Coming from a financial background, my guess is that when times get tight for a company, one of the first budget items to get cut is advertising dollars (assuming things are tight and not dire, in which case trimming staff is a quicker fix).

    I’m not much of a NASCAR fan, but one my buddies is. He mentioned that a lot of the cars in the B-league (Busch series?) aren’t sporting as many advertiser stickers on the cars.

    I’m just going to have to take his word for it, though, as a lack of stickers still isn’t enough of a reason to get me to watch a race.

    Good luck with the site. I hope I’m wrong wondering how you will make money on it.

  2. Milani R.
    Milani R. says:

    The level of “success” on your blogger team as well as your track record leads me to believe your readers are fairly naive. Great fluff, little substance.

  3. MJ
    MJ says:

    I really don’t relate to the content I’ve seen up there so far, and the main page graphics (the photos et al that others are complaining about) are HIDEOUS. Why do I not relate to the content? Why would I? Video games, Red Bull, girly stuff – grow up.

  4. Soleil
    Soleil says:

    “That's such a bad error. So often I am amazed by the errors I end up publishing.” – direct quote from Penelope on 3.3.08. Every heard of fact checking? It’s what good journalists do.

  5. Werner von Wallenrod
    Werner von Wallenrod says:

    “Every heard of fact checking? It's what good journalists do.” – direct quote from Soleil on 3.5.08. Ever hear of being respectful and gracious to someone who’s just apologized for making a simple error? It’s what good people do.

  6. apronk (disclaimer: this is only a screenname)
    apronk (disclaimer: this is only a screenname) says:

    So I see there is a new graphic daily.

    My suggestion: scrap the graphic, make better use of real estate by putting more true content in that huge space.

    Just my two cents.

  7. Anna
    Anna says:

    Penelope,
    I have to chime in here with everyone and say that these giant stock graphics are doing BrazenCareerist no favors. You’re wasting space, and the graphics don’t portray the persona of young go-getters. Today’s image is of a very bored-looking young guy. This isn’t Gen Y!
    There is also something to the website that gives it a feel of something spam-y, or at the very least, impersonal. I’m not sure what you can do to remedy that, but in general, the design seems “off” to me in that way.
    I will continue visiting in hopes of finding good content, but I do hope you take into consideration these “little” things that, psychologically, relate a lot about your company.

  8. apronk (disclaimer: this is only a screenname)
    apronk (disclaimer: this is only a screenname) says:

    Anna wrote: “There is also something to the website that gives it a feel of something spam-y, or at the very least, impersonal. I'm not sure what you can do to remedy that, but in general, the design seems "off" to me in that way.
    I will continue visiting in hopes of finding good content, but I do hope you take into consideration these "little" things that, psychologically, relate a lot about your company.”

    Well said! You described it perfectly – impersonal. It gives it a canned feeling and makes it look like one big cheap ad rather than a valid financial site w/ valid financial info.

  9. apronk (disclaimer: this is only a screenname)
    apronk (disclaimer: this is only a screenname) says:

    @Dale, Penelope emailed me the morning after my original post to tell me that I’d like that day’s graphic much better than the original.

  10. Shefaly
    Shefaly says:

    @ Apronk: I like the disclaimer you now write after every comment :-) A propos an earlier post, which said, somehow straight women are not funny and women are not funnier than men, I think we are!

  11. Rupert
    Rupert says:

    Many congrats!

    What I’ve always loved about this blog (the first Brazen Careerist on penelopetrunk.com) is that you constantly link to other interesting, thought provoking, and informative sites; it is great to see some of those authors on BrazenCareerist.com.

    All the best with the new/continuing enterprize. May it flourish!

  12. Penelope Trunk
    Penelope Trunk says:

    Hey, everyone. I just want to say thanks for all the feedback about the new site. It’s really really helpful to have a commuity that cares enough to give this kind of feeback. Means that I can make things better at BrazenCareerist.com at a much faster pace than I expected.

    Penelope

  13. Anna
    Anna says:

    Penelope,
    Another thing I’ve noticed over the past few days (and perhaps I’m just missing something) is that it’s difficult to navigate to older content. Where can I go to see the posts from a couple days ago (to see if anyone else commented)?

  14. baggins
    baggins says:

    Penelope Trunk,
    We always knew you were borderline delusional, that’s why you’re so much fun. Anyway most entrepreneurs I know are borderline or fully delusional.

  15. ipad3
    ipad3 says:

    This amazing is 1 of the most suitable article that My partner and i have read till date on this particular theme. Totally complete yet to the point without the need for any specific nonsense.

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