Phase 1: Inception. Steal or duplicate an idea for a product. Explain the idea to several close friends, who declare it a surefire success but in reality simply don't have the heart to tell you they think it will tank. Explain it to several other close friends, who warn you your idea is flawed, all the while hoping you'll hesitate and, as a consequence, give them time to steal or duplicate it for themselves. Move mindlessly forward.
Phase 2: Financing. Implore loving family to float you a low- or no-interest loan. Declare whole shortsighted, tightfisted family "dead" to you. Write business and/or marketing plan. Submit plan to Bank A as part of business loan application. Learn application has been turned down; drown sorrows in fifth of cheap scotch.
Creatively rewrite business and/or marketing plan. Submit plan to Bank B as part of business loan application. Learn application has been turned down; drown sorrows in fifth of cheap scotch. Spin web of carefully crafted lies, treachery and deceit into a business and/or marketing plan. Submit plan to Bank C as part of business loan application. Learn application has been approved; celebrate success with fifth of expensive scotch charged against your new line of credit.
Phase 3: Incorporation. Search for suitable commercial property to buy or lease. Contribute to suburban sprawl by locating new business on site of former forest/former farmland. Contribute to traffic congestion/air pollution by attracting new employees to area with woefully inadequate road system. Contribute absolutely nothing to local revenues and, by extension, quality of life, by negotiating tax abatement as part of business incentive package. Hire indifferent workforce. Treat workforce with indifference. Look into progressive management and leadership techniques. Eschew pointy-headed theories in favor of carrying concealed weapon and wearing Kevlar vest.
Phase 4: Supply. Determine production goals are too ambitious. Push back first shipment date. Discover per unit cost much higher than anticipated: Downgrade materials; actively ignore costly EPA and/or OSHA and/or FDA and/or FTC and/or comparable state agencies' guidelines; investigate bringing on undocumented workers/relocating to Southeast Asia. Push back first shipment date even further. Go to bank for additional money (ski mask optional). Sustain manufacturing process with newly acquired capital; make first shipment; create inventory. Announce layoffs. Trade up to Kevlar body suit with hood.
Phase 5: Creating Demand. Meet with ad agencies. Shower vigorously. Hire ad agency; realize you are now part of the problem. Order agency to turn your cocktail napkin doodle into logo. Slap logo on everything except your children. Feel certain that idiots at ad agency think you're an idiot. Hire interactive firm to design and maintain yet one more boring corporate Web site. Make promise to self that site shall be updated more than once a year. Struggle unsuccessfully to remember what it was you promised self a few minutes ago.
Phase 6: Demand. Secure your first sale. Earn your first dollar. Be informed of the first frivolous lawsuit to be filed against you. Discover several other businesses almost exactly like yours but with greater capitalization have sprung up overnight on the Internet, offering more value for less money, forcing you to lower prices and thereby triggering a price war that swiftly erodes any and all profit on your negligible sliver of market share. Remove Kevlar suit.
BOB WOODIWISS is currently on leave to open Joseph Boxer, Esq., his new chain of stores specializing in the rental of men's formal underpants.