Saturday, April 7, 2012


How hard is it to succeed with a new business? I was discussing this with Orange County [NY] Chamber of Commerce Director of Membership Investment, Cheryl Cohen, my personal business guru, and she revealed that many new members of the Chamber think starting a business is easy. One of us added, “like shooting fish in a barrel,” an old expression that means something is a cinch, a snap, a piece of cake, as easy as pie…you get it.

My own new business, as a freelance writer and book coach, seems to be succeeding, albeit slowly. A retired physicist, I commented on the analogy of shooting fish in a barrel: If the barrel is packed with fish, you are nearly certain to hit at least one. If the fish are few and you are shooting from above into the water surface at something other than vertically, you are likely to miss. Because of the behavior of light passing from water to air, the fish are not where they seem to be. If you put an oar in the water, it appears bent where it touches the water, for this same reason.

There are ways to succeed with a new business, and joining the Chamber helps. In being a new member, I have learned a lot, formed many useful alliances, found some clients, even used the rooms for meeting them. If you missed last month’s special blitz, you can still get some special deals when signing up as a new member, Cheryl emphasized.

Back to fish in a barrel: if you shoot straight down (vertically), then the fish will be in that path, though not at quite the distance it appears, so your bullet will strike it. One study also showed that even if you miss the fish, the shock wave from the bullet is often lethal.

For business success, to extend the analogy, you will succeed if you learn how to shoot correctly. Then, take your best shots. Sometimes even coming close to where you aimed will be good enough, as with tossing horseshoes and hand grenades.

Cheryl Cohen became quite a marksman [markswoman?] on her high school rifle team, where she was re-directed by the school athletic director after complaints from her bowling team that her energetic but ill-controlled bowling style threatened the safety of her team-mates. In her hands, a rifle was less dangerous than a bowling ball.

To sign up or re-enlist, call Cheryl at the Chamber at 457-9700 x1111 or email .

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