Ask the Experts

Building a Business

I want to start my own business when I graduate. I think I have the skills and background to do it, and I think my idea is a good one. But, of course, I’m always looking for great advice! That’s why I’m asking the experts what sort of advice the pros give to people who are thinking about starting a company. Specifically, I’d love to know what people think I can or should do while I’m still in school–I have a couple of years left before I graduate, which I think makes my situation kind of unique relative to a lot of other people who are planning to start businesses in the near future. Thanks in advance for all of your help!

So you’re hoping to start a business–good for you! Striking out on one’s own is as American as it gets, and great businesses built by smart and talented individuals are always in demand. Of course, it won’t be easy: more than half of all businesses fail in their first year. So how can you prepare and make sure that yours isn’t one of them?

Ask the Experts

Legal Legwork

I’m interested in attending law school, and apparently this has made me the “go-to” expert on all things legal for my family and friends. I have a friend back home who needs a lawyer, and he asked me how to find the best one. Despite my intentions to enter the legal field myself, I have no idea how to find a good lawyer other than knowing someone who knows someone. I don’t want to tell him I have no idea, but I also don’t want to give bad advice. How does a person go about finding a good lawyer?

Lawyers aren’t like doctors–most people don’t have one they meet with regularly. Your friend sounds like most people. Although you may not be able to recommend a specific lawyer to him, there are some resources you can point him to in order to help him find a lawyer that best fits his specific needs and his budget.

Ask the Experts

Demystifying Data

I’m currently in the process of applying for jobs in a lot of different sectors because my focus during school has been on business and entrepreneurship. I’m not much of a tech person. I can use my smartphone and laptop like everyone else, but a lot of these jobs and their websites mention things like “understanding data solutions” and “streamlining web-based services to the cloud for economic flexibility.”

I don’t want to sound like a total amateur if these topics come up in interviews. Even if they don’t ask me about these things, they seem important to understanding costs for businesses. I don’t need a degree in computer science, but can you please translate some of this jargon so I feel better prepared?

Whether you realize it or not, you’ve hit on an incredibly important topic for businesses everywhere. Like you said, not everyone needs to be a computer scientist or a “tech person” to understand the impact that data creation and storage has on businesses. Most businesses store a tremendous amount of data, and that accumulation of so much data comes with very literal costs: data storage, electricity to support data storage, and, depending on the sensitivity of the data, additional costs for security and data compliance. This isn’t a problem that’s going away, either: according to the IDC, the explosion in data and its ubiquity in day-to-day work will force companies to transform in both internal culture and operations. Why is this happening? Studies have shown an estimated 4300 percent increase in annual data production by 2020, and companies have to figure out a way to store and access their data safely and cost-effectively.

Ask the Experts

Saving Space

I’ve always been a person with a lot of stuff. I don’t know why that is, exactly–maybe I just buy too much stuff, or maybe I have too much trouble throwing things away. I don’t know. All I know is that I never feel like I have enough space! Sometimes I’ll buy a book on organizing or downsizing, but all that ever seems to do is just add a book to the piles of stuff that I have. It drives my parents nuts, and it bothers my roommates, too. And, of course, it bothers me! How can I get more space and organize my stuff better? What advice to the experts have for people looking to cut down on their clutter?

You’re not alone! Many of us have too much stuff–and, for a lot of us, that can be a source of stress.