Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Transgender Employment Solutions

(by Michele Angelique)

Many transpeople find themselves changing employment at some point during their transition. Often it’s been lamented that the only opportunities for t-people are in the entertainment business. Obviously, this situation has to change. Unemployment can be a source of added psychological stress during transition, a time which may already be fraught with challenges. This issue must be addressed in order to find ways in which transgender people can be financially secure, either through employment or entrepreneurialism. Let’s examine various sides of the issue, and find progressive ways to facilitate solutions.

***
Trans-Friendly Employers

Whether or not to transition “in the workplace” is a question facing many transpeople. The answer often depends upon the employer’s perceived tolerance toward such a change, the peer culture within the workplace, and how financially dependant the transperson is upon the employer. These factors lead many transpeople to remain “in the closet”, and live a double life in which they attend work presenting a different gender than they spend the rest the time. This condition leads to emotional stress and paranoia for the transperson that their employer should learn of their secret. Unfortunately, many cases have told us that all too often this fear is well-founded.

A close friend of mine was living the double life, and one evening she was spotted by some co-workers while out en femme. Within a week, not only had she lost her job, but word had traveled to competing firms in the city which might have hired her. The result for her was to be forced to start from scratch rebuilding a career in a different line of work altogether.

Another close friend decided not to live the double life anymore, and decided to come out to her employer. On the surface, it seemed a risky revelation given that she works in a “manly-man” type of business, and 95% of her co-workers are blue-collar males. However, she decided to have a meeting with her managers and tell them of her transgendered status and intent to transition permanently. She explained that she would like to begin coming to work wearing makeup and female clothing. The owners and management of the company were supportive of her, and sanctioned the requested changes.

She has since been going to work looking incrementally more feminine, while always remaining in the bounds of prudence. She dresses similarly to the women in her workplace, as her goal is not to receive extra attention or be a distraction to others, but rather just to be herself. She’s now happily doing just that. Her 50+ male co-workers have been respectful and accepting, some have even asked sincere questions wanting to better understand her transition. Her story gives me hope because sometimes an abundance of tolerance may exist in places where we assume there would be none.

The problem is, it is difficult to determine whether a company will be trans-friendly or not, until you take the plunge and ask the question. For some people, asking that question is just too risky, so it never gets asked.

I propose that we begin building a page on GenderEvolve that indicates the names of companies known to be trans-friendly. We can collect t-friendly employer names from the transgender community, and we can also contact companies and find out if they qualify to be listed on our page. If anyone reading this knows of trans-friendly companies, please respond in the comments section of this article or to employers@genderevolve.com .

The Transgender at Work (TAW) project is a focal point for addressing workplace issues for the transgendered. TAW provides resources for innovative employers who want to set their company employment policies to help their transgendered employees to be at their most productive, without spending energy hiding an important part of themselves and pretending to be something they are not. Transgender at Work (TAW) focuses on voluntary cooperation between employers and employees. While civil rights laws are important to understand, and provide useful examples of language, advocacy for laws is outside the scope of TAW.

Resources for transgendered employees: http://www.tgender.net/taw/tg.html

***
Self-Employment Opportunities

The other career option for a transgender person is to become their own boss. This is the ideal solution for maximum personal freedom. There is no reason a TG-owned business must be based on, or have any relation to, transgenderism. There is no limit to the type, nature, scope of business that a transgender person could undertake, it just depends upon individual skills, visions, talents and financial resources to get started.

The first question to ask yourself when thinking about starting your own business is “what do I love?”. Think of what activities or causes make you the happiest. Ponder any and every avenue that might enable you to do these things that you love, in the context of providing valuable goods or services. If you can earn a living doing something you love, you will feel like you’ve never worked a day in your life.

The next question to ask yourself is, “what am I good at?”. Any business that you own should enable and challenge you to operate at your best. Honestly evaluate your strengths, identify your top five strengths, and look for ways to build upon those. Similarly, identify areas that may be required in your business but are not within your realm of skill, and think about ways to support those areas. You may wish to partner with others, or hire consultants to fill in the gaps.

The third question to ask yourself is, “who else would value these things?”. The types of people that fall into this category are your potential customers. Think of ways you might be able to get their attention with your product or service. Consider the demographics of these potential customers, such as age range, income, family status, cultural genre, location, habits, education, lifestyle, and preferences. Put yourself in their shoes, and imagine what might compel you to make a buying decision.

Take the information you have gathered in the above three questions, and put them together. You now have a basis for a potential self-employment business opportunity, and can begin seeking to fill in the details. Here is a valuable resource portal to guide you through the rest of the process of starting your own business. http://www.entrepreneur.com/bizstartups/

***

In conclusion, many transgendered people may find the best solution to be self-employment, although the transgender employment situation is one which is bound to change over the coming years. Employers will become more aware, and human resource policies will be written that prevent discrimination against transgendered people, in much the same way that sexual discrimination policies have evolved to prevent harassment of women on the job. It is my hope that we will be able to gather an ever growing list of trans-friendly employer names to add to our special page on GenderEvolve.

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

You may want to contact:

Donna Rose

at www.donnarose.com

She is an expert on employment issues, a public speaker on the issue, an activist, a board member of the HRC, and a biography author.

Stacie Ku said...

Transjobless

Imagine trying to find a job without a shred of work history. Welcome to the transgender
job hunt.

By Tali Woodward
› tali@sfbg.com

In the transgender community, to have full-time work is to be in the minority. In fact, a new survey of 194 trans people conducted by the Transgender Law Center (TLC), with support from the Guardian, found that only one out of every four respondents has a full-time job. Another 16 percent work part-time.

What's more, 59 percent of respondents reported an annual salary of less than $15,333. Only 4 percent reported making more than $61,200, which is about the median income in the Bay Area.

In other words, more than half of local transgender people live in poverty, and 96 percent earn less than the median income. Perhaps it shouldn't be surprising that 40 percent of those surveyed don't even have a bank account.

TLC doesn't claim the study is strictly scientific — all respondents were identified through trans organizations or outreach workers. But the data give a fairly good picture of how hard it is for transgender people to find and keep decent jobs, even in the city that is supposed to be most accepting of them.

It's been more than a decade since San Francisco expanded local nondiscrimination laws to cover trans people, but transphobic discrimination remains rampant. Fifty-seven percent of survey respondents said they've experienced some form of employment discrimination.

And interviews show that job woes are hardly straightforward.

Navigating the job-application process after a gender transition can be extraordinarily difficult. Trans people run up against fairly entrenched biases about what kind of work they're suited for. Sometimes those who are lucky enough to find work can't tolerate insensitive, or even abusive, coworkers.

Marilyn Robinson turned tricks for almost 20 years before she decided to look for legal employment. She got her GED and, eventually, a job at an insurance company. The first six months went OK, but then a supervisor "thought he had the right to call me RuPaul," she told us. "And I look nothing like RuPaul." Suddenly the women in the office refused to use the bathroom if Robinson was around. She left within a month.

Once again, Robinson was on the job hunt. She interviewed for a receptionist position, and thought it went well. But on her way out, she saw the interviewer toss her application into the trash with a giggle.

"The reality is, even a hoagie shop in the Castro — they might not hire you," she said.

Still, many activists say the increased attention being paid to trans employment issues is promising.

Cecelia Chung from the Transgender Law Center told us there's a "silver lining" in the effort the "community is putting into really changing the playing field. We're in a really different place than we were five years ago."

Activists say true progress will require broad education efforts and the cooperation of business owners throughout the Bay Area. But the project is well under way, with San Francisco Transgender Empowerment, Advocacy and Mentorship, a trans collaborative, hosting its second annual Transgender Job Fair March 22. More than a dozen employers have signed up for the fair, including UCSF, Goodwill Industries, and Bank of America.

HURDLES

Imagine trying to find a job with no references from previous employers. Now envision how it might feel to have interviewer after interviewer look at you askance — or even ask if you've had surgery on a fairly private part of your body.

These are just a couple of the predicaments trans job-seekers face.

Kenneth Stram runs the Economic Development Office at the San Francisco LGBT Community Center. "In San Francisco there are the best intentions," he told us. "But when you scratch the surface, there are all these procedural hurdles that need to be addressed." As examples, he pointed to job-training classes where fellow students may act hostile, or arduous application processes.

Giving a prospective employer a reference may seem like a fairly straightforward task, but what if your old employer knew an employee of a different gender? Do you call the old boss and announce your new identity? Even if he or she is supportive, experience can be hard to erase. Will the manager who worked with Jim be able to speak convincingly about Jeanine? And what about your work history — should you eliminate the jobs where you were known as a different gender?

Most trans people can't make it through the application process without either outing themselves or lying.

Marcus Arana decided to face this issue head-on and wrote about his transition from living as a woman to living as a man in his cover letter.

"It became a matter of curiosity," Arana told us. "I would have employers ask about my surgical status."

It took him a year and a half to find a job. Fortunately, it's one he loves. Arana investigates most complaints of gender identity–related discrimination that are made to San Francisco's city government. (Another investigator handles housing-oriented complaints.)

When he started his job, in 2000, about three quarters of the complaints Arana saw were related to public accommodations — a transwoman had been refused service at a restaurant, say, or a bank employee had given a cross-dressing man grief about the gender listed on his driver's license.

Today, Arana told us, at least half of the cases he looks into are work-related — something he attributes to both progress in accommodations issues and stagnation on the job front.

TG workers, he said, confront two common problems: resistance to a changed name or pronoun preference and controversy over which bathroom they use.

The name and pronoun problems can often be addressed through sensitivity training, though Arana said that even in the Bay Area, it's not unheard of for some coworkers to simply refuse to alter how they refer to a trans colleague.

Nine out of ten bathroom issues concern male-to-female trans folk — despite the fact that the police department has never gotten a single report of a transwoman harassing another person in a bathroom. One complaint Arana investigated involved a woman sticking a compact mirror under a bathroom stall in an effort to see her trans coworker's genitalia.

But a hostile workplace is more often made up of dozens of subtle discomforts rather than a single drama-filled incident.

Robinson told us the constant whispering of "is that a man?" can make an otherwise decent job intolerable: "It's why most of the girls — and I will speak for myself — are prostitutes. Because it's easier."

The second and third most common forms of work-related discrimination cited by respondents in the TLC survey were sexual harassment and verbal harassment.

But only 12 percent of those who reported discrimination also filed some kind of formal complaint. That may be because of the widespread feeling that doing so can make it that much harder to keep a job — or find another one. Mara Keisling, director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, in Washington, DC, said that "it's a common understanding within the transgender community that when you lose your job, you generally lose your career."

ANOTHER KIND OF GLASS CEILING

Most of the trans people we spoke to expressed resentment at being tracked into certain jobs — usually related to health care or government.

Part of that is because public entities have been quicker to adopt nondiscriminatory policies. San Francisco city government created a splash in 2001 when it granted trans employees access to full health benefits, including sex-reassignment surgery. The University of California followed suit last year.

But it's also because of deeply ingrained prejudices about what kind of work transgender people are suited to.

Claudia Cabrera was born in Guatemala but fled to the Bay Area in 2000 to get away from the constant insults and occasional violence that befell her. Despite her education in electrical engineering and business and 13 years of tech work, it was difficult for her to find a job — even after she was granted political asylum. In 2002 a local nonprofit she had originally turned to for help offered her a position doing outreach within the queer community.

Cabrera doesn't make much money, and she sends some of it back to her two kids in Guatemala. But that's not the only reason she would like another job. She wants to have broader responsibilities and to employ her tech savvy.

"There is a stereotype here in San Francisco [that] transgender folk are only good for doing HIV work — or just outreach in general," she said.

Whenever she's gotten an interview for another kind of job, she's been told she is overqualified. Does she believe that's why she hasn't been hired? "No," she laughed. But she also acknowledged, "Even though there is discrimination going on here, this is the safest city for me to be in."

Cabrera is now on the board of TLC and is working to create more job opportunities for herself and others in the trans community. She often repeats this mantra: "As a transsexual woman, I am not asking for anything that doesn't belong to me. I am demanding my rights to live as a human being." *

TRANSGENDER JOB FAIR

March 22
1–4 p.m.

SF LGBT Community Center, Ceremonial Room
1800 Market, SF
(415) 865-5555

www.sfcenter.org
www.transgenderlawcenter.org
www.sfteam.org

Brielle Whitney said...

IBM Leads Way in Supporting Gender Confusion
Transsexuals Are Latest to Jump on the ‘Diversity’ Bandwagon
By Allyson Smith
Special to Culture & Family Report

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Spokesmen from IBM and other leading U.S. corporations signaled their support for hiring transsexuals and cross-dressers during the 2nd National Gender Public Advocacy Coalition (GenderPAC) conference held here May 18-20 at the Washington Hilton and Towers Hotel.

During a conference seminar attended by this reporter titled “Workplace Fairness,” representatives from IBM, WorldCom, and Constellation Energy Group discussed how their companies are taking “sexual orientation” nondiscrimination policies toward the next level of including “gender expression” and “gender identity” as protected employee classes.

Panelists described how companies today are being pressured into hiring “sexual minorities” because of shrinking “talent pools,” stiffening competition, globalization, and the breakdown of employees and customers into multiple identity groups. Rather than viewing such pressure as a liability, however, the panelists portrayed efforts to recruit sexually confused people as “cutting edge” corporate leadership.

The GenderPAC conference — held at the hotel where President Reagan was shot in 1981 — was sponsored at the highest (Platinum) level by corporate giants IBM, American Airlines, and Verizon. Among the special interest and pressure groups sponsoring GenderPAC were: the Human Rights Campaign (HRC, also a Platinum sponsor); the National Organization for Women (NOW); the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network (GLSEN); the Sexual Minority Youth Assistance League (SMYAL); the Sexuality Information and Education Council of U.S. (SIECUS); Feminist Majority; Amnesty International; and the AFL-CIO offshoot “Pride at Work.”

Also signing on as a Platinum sponsor was the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom (NCSF) — a group that advocates for sadomasochists, wife-swapping “swingers,” pornographers, sex businesses, and others on the sexual fringe. NCSF now routinely supports other groups in the homosexual and “transgender” movement as it seeks to establish its “sexual freedom” crusade as part of the larger “diversity” cause.

IBM OFFICIAL LAUDS ‘DIVERSITY’
During the seminar Cynthia Neff, director of global human resources public policy for IBM in White Plains, New York, told the audience, “IBM … passionately believes that diversity is a key part of our business.”

“I would say that there’s been an evolution on this whole subject of transgender people, and gender rights is something that we’ve made an effort over the past several years to really understand more about,” Neff said. “We really have migrated … to including transgender as part of the core work that we do … We value these kinds of differences, not just tolerate them.”

Neff described the key role that outside “transgender” activists played in IBM’s embrace of their agenda. She explained how in 1995, IBM expanded its awareness of “transgenders” within its diversity task force: “We had to struggle even among the task force about where does transgender fit in? And I will tell you we had some wonderful debates. The first thing we did [was write] a white paper. We didn’t have a member of [the transgender] community [on the task force], so we did a white paper on our own.”

After that, said Neff, “we had a couple people come in as task force members and actually discuss [transgenderism], and I think that was really a watershed event. A guy by the name of Jamison Green … helped this group of gay/lesbian team managers and executives to understand. [Green is a “female-to-male” “transgender” activist and lecturer, and the former president of Female-to-Male International, Inc.]

“And so the task force really shifted; this group of gays/lesbians shifted and said, ‘Wow, we need to open our aperture much broader.’ And then it was really a matter of trying to say, ‘This is important to us to include transgenders.’ These are the things that are really important to us that we have to move the needle on. One of the members said that we need to have a really clear statement around the world that gender identity and expression, and sexual orientation are protected.”

Neff concluded: “IBM is on a clear track to include gender identity and expression as a criterion. I think we’re very close, and I think frankly, if we can get there, it gets easier for [other companies like] Verizon. So hopefully we’ll get there together.”

HOMOSEXUAL AWARDS HELP IBM’S BOTTOM LINE
One of IBM’s business strategies, explained Neff, is to win awards: “IBM likes to win awards. We would like all of you to either buy IBM stock, buy an IBM computer, or come work for us. Somehow we want your life to be touched by IBM. The chances of you doing that are much higher if you think we’re a great company and we espouse the values that you believe in, so winning awards is part of our strategy.”

According to literature distributed by IBM at the conference, the company has won awards from several homosexual pressure groups, such as the HRC and Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians & Gays (PFLAG), as well as “gay” media like The Advocate and OUT magazines. IBM has also received awards from the Gay Financial Network and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

MAKING ‘BUSINESS CASE’ FOR HIRING TRANSSEXUALS
The Workplace Fairness seminar was moderated by Elizabeth McGillivary of Organization Resources Counselors, Inc., (ORC), a New York City-based management and human resources consulting firm. ORC distributed a “Diversity Strategy Guide” during the conference that offered the following rationales for hiring homosexuals and the gender confused:

The increasing diversity of the workforce from which an organization draws its applicants;
The movement of “society as a whole” toward “greater identification with special interest groups of all kinds”;
The increasing diversity of customers due to “globalization and changing demographics within the U.S.”;
The needs of worldwide businesses to hire “culturally flexible” employees;
The need to access “the broadest possible talent pool” in the face of “competition, quality concerns, restructuring, and shortages of critical skills.”
The ORC guide also offered these tips for persuading and pushing employees to accept “diversity” initiatives:

Promote diversity by underscoring the idea of “valuing differences,” attaching a positive connotation to what may have been seen as a problem;
Evaluate employees on “their performance of diversity-friendly behaviors”;
Co-opt existing management processes for diversity purposes;
Capitalize on “times of cultural flux,” such as workforce reductions, to “legitimize new views”;
Conduct diversity training “over a period of time in order to build on previous learning and reinforce key concepts”;
“Begin with relatively nonconfrontational training focused on awareness and understanding of the concept of difference in its broadest sense”;
“Capitalize on the strong influence orientation programs can have on new employees’ behavior and attitudes toward the company.”
VERIZON’S HELPFUL HINTS FOR ‘INCLUSION’
Along with IBM and American Airlines, telecommunications giant Verizon was a major GenderPAC sponsor. At its vendor table, the company offered a handout titled “101 Ways to Make Your Workplace More Inclusive.” Among its suggestions, listed verbatim:

Link being inclusive to being productive;
Use examples of same-sex couples in business exercises and training role-plays;
Make gay and lesbian employees visible in your organization’s newsletter and other communications;
Order and display gay publications, like 10 Percent, The Advocate, Out, or Victory where other magazines are displayed;
Bring gay, lesbian and bisexual speakers into the workplace;
Seek out opportunities to learn from transgender people;
On Gay Pride Day and National Coming Out Day, fly the rainbow flag at work locations;
Sponsor a booth at gay pride events;
Give your gay employees time off to attend funerals of close friends;
When putting together information packets for out-of-town guests, include information on gay, lesbian or bisexual places of interest. Include a copy of your local gay paper;
Encourage your gay, lesbian or bisexual employees to recommend other sexual minorities for jobs within the organization;
Include openly lesbian, gay and bisexual individuals on company boards and task forces.
GENDERPAC: CORPORATE RESOURCE?
Linda Goldberg, a human resource director for Baltimore-based Constellation Energy Group, said that although her company is not yet ready to include gender in its non-discrimination policy, GenderPAC has helped raise awareness of the issue.

“This is a very cutting edge thought process and a concept that we all are trying to get a handle on,” Goldberg said. “We do have sexual orientation as part of our non-discrimination policy.

“I’ve been there 22 years so I can’t remember a time it wasn’t part of our policy, but every year we send out an annual re-affirmation statement [that] the company doesn’t discriminate. It’s a standard letter, and this year for some reason when I sent it up the chain to be reviewed, I got back a response, ‘Do we really want to say that we don’t discriminate on the basis of sex or should we say that we don’t discriminate on the basis of gender?’ I had the benefit of talking to [GenderPAC executive director] Riki [Wilchins], and all of a sudden gender had a whole different meaning to me.”

http://www.cultureandfamily.org/articledisplay.asp?id=618&department=CFI&categoryid=cfreport

Concerned Women for America
1015 Fifteenth St. N.W., Suite 1100
Washington, D.C. 20005
Phone: (202) 488-7000
Fax: (202) 488-0806

Anonymous said...

Much of the above are misnomers about the majority of post-vaginoplasty women. Factually, the majority of the 20,000 to 30,000 women who have received vaginoplasties, costing $10,000.00 (Thailand) to $25,000.00(Toby Meltzer), are college educated and have maintained long term good employment to get there. Many of these same women have maintained excellent long-term employment enough to obtain bony facial feminization surgery costing between $20,000.00 and $50,000.00 (Ousterhout, Spiegel, Meltzer, Zukovski, Alter). The archetypal model for these women includes women like Andrea James (tsroadmap.com - masters in English, phi beta kappa) and the young Gabby from the documentary Transgeneration who is one of many college students who receive financial assistance from their parents and who sometimes even use portions of their college loans to pay for their surgeries!

The populations of people who from the starts of their lives deprive themselves with lack of education and years of time wasting self-destructive prostitution and sex-work are not representative of the 20,000 to 30,000 women who have received vaginoplasties. The social dropouts whose socioeconomic deprivation leads to life in ‘tranny bars’ and sex-work, most often end up hopelessly poor middle age psychosocially ravaged people, without vaginoplasties or much hope of ever getting one. Their socioeconomic status is generally associated with drug use, prostitution, risk for HIV, and desperately dangerous, often lethal, use of injected liquid silicone. Their ill-conceived educational choices, and social strata experiences are what doom their lives, not their gender dysphoria.

Women likely to obtain vaginoplasties, or who have received them, rarely if ever respond to the distorted and misrepresentative surveys that most often form the basis for the misguided notion that post-vaginoplasty women are either marginalized, or under employed. Such successful women blend into and assimilate with their social and employment surroundings. They don’t respond to surveys because they don’t need to and generally aren’t living within the purview of such social work, public health oriented, government associated, systems. The visible tip of the iceberg of such successful women includes people like professor emeritus Lynn Conway (lynnconway.com) , Marci Bowers, MD (gynecologist and vaginoplasty surgeon – marcibowers.com ), physician Christine McGinn D.O. (assistant to Dr. Bowers), cardiologist Becky Allison, MD (drbecky.com) , attorney Amy Preston (amynews.com), college student Jessica Anderson ( translife.net ), Gina Venolia one of dozens of women, post vaginoplasty software engineers at Microsoft, and others like her at countless other high technology companies, Air France flight attendant Andréa Colliaux, petite NASCAR driver Terri O’Connell, bass player Jennifer Leitham - with the Doc Severinson jazz orchestra, Donna Rosen – another high technology employee, and Raytheon engineer Amanda Simpson who ran for congress in Arizona. It is probably notable that she appears to have requested that Lynn Conway remove her from the list of post vaginoplasty women successes so that she might recoup some of the anonymity and invisibility that generally accompanies employment success and success with other aspects of life for such women. Observers need to better understand that the success of such women generally results in their invisibility and unavailability to contribute to the generally distorted and misrepresentative picture that so called professionals and the media would like to portray about the tens of thousands of post-vaginoplasty women who have successfully blended into the very same mainstream society where they achieved the educational and professional success that enabled them to afford the $20,000.00 to $100,000.00 of surgical interventions that gave them their freedom.

Alysyn said...

I always suggest creating over merely accepting what already exists. As well, beginning a business is a great way to show the world the strength of your person and intent. Go to them, don't wait for them to come to you.

Still, here are some worthwhile tips when making your move...

URL: http://www.entrepreneur.com/startingabusiness/startupbasics/startupbasicscolumnistbradsugars/article167930.html

The 11 Pitfalls of Startup

Every day, literally thousands of regular, sane and normal people take the plunge and start their own businesses. As they survey the hazardous landcape, little do they know how easy it would be to avoid the traps that so many of us have fallen into.

If you’re in the initial phases of starting your own business, then I must warn you: Avoid these mistakes as if your life depended on it. Because it does--your financial life, that is.

Let’s look at the pitfalls I’ve seen entrepreneurs have to dig themselves out of all too many times:

1. Buying a job rather than a business. Yes, you’ll have to be involved in the daily operations at the start, but remember that the ultimate goal is to grow your business into much more than just a job where you work hands-on every day. Work on the business, not just in the business.

2. Being a great plumber but having no idea how to run a business that sells plumbing.Your former jobs are all an apprenticeship to running your own business. Be an apprentice in all areas, not just in the trade or profession of your business. Most important, be sure you’ve paid attention to all aspects of business in your past jobs, no matter what they were, so you’ve done your basic, “how to run a business” apprenticeship.

3. Taking on a business partner. Most people give away equity upfront to a partner. Yes, there are examples of partnerships that work, but most don’t. Unless you’re absolutely sure about your partnership, hire people to help you out instead.

4. Starting a business from scratch rather than buying an existing operation. Starting from scratch may seem cheap, but it’ll cost you the most expensive asset you have--time. Buy an undervalued company, and build it up, rather than start from scratch.

5. Thinking the business idea will make the company. It’s the people who make a business successful, not the product, not the service and not the new invention. Focus on building a great company as much as you do a great product.

6. Thinking too small. Many startup entrepreneurs want to generate a wage for themselves and nothing more. Instead, aim to build a profit, aim to build something large, and aim to build something great. If you shoot for the stars, you may fail, but at least you’ll make it to the moon.

7. Competing on price and price alone. This is by far the fastest way to send yourself into bankruptcy. Business is about profit, and having a smaller revenue with a larger profit margin will always beat out winning tons of business but earning almost no profit. Learn marketing and sales so you can get out of the price wars.

8. Trying to cost-cut your way to success. By saving a wage and doing the work yourself, you forget that nobody’s out there drumming up new business for you. Focus on bringing in the business, not saving a few pennies.

9. Hiring cheap employees. You get what you pay for. Getting the right people is crucial, so don’t just hire anyone. Wait until you find the right someone.

10. Focusing on only one area of your business. Business success involves three main areas: sales and marketing, finance and administration, and operations. You have to keep all three working and growing in unison, not just the area you’re good at.

11. Not testing or measuring anything. Knowing your numbers is vital. In fact, you can’t manage what you don’t measure. Measure everything from day one, from how many new prospects you have to how many sales you make.

12. Doing the work once and getting paid once. The key to success is to do the work once and establish a long-term, income-generating relationship. Learn to structure your clients, your business and your income that way, and you’ll build a great business.

You might have noticed there are 12, not 11, pitfalls to watch for. That’s because a good business will always deliver what it promises, but a great business will deliver more than promised.

Brad Sugars is Entrepreneur.com’s Startup Basics columnist and the founder of Action International, a business coaching franchise.

Dr. Jillian Todd Weiss said...

It's a year later from the original post, but this topic is as timely as ever. I've started a blog on transgender workplace diversity issues at http://transworkplace.blogspot.com

Jillian said...

TJobBank - Transgender Job Bank
http://www.tjobbank.com
Free to candidates and employers - designed to assist transgender professionals in finding employment with inclusive employers.

The site was launched July 28, 2008. Please help get the word out to candidates and employers so we can get our community working!

Jillian Barfield
Director of Implementation
TJobBank.com
http://www.tjobbank.com

Clair at TEEI said...

HI Friends,

If you are looking for assistance in finding sustainable jobs in safe workplaces check out the Transgender Economic Empowerment Initiative (TEEI). We offer one-on-one job search support, workshop and classes, community mentors, and connections with employers.

Find us at www.teeisf.org