To Be a Good Entrepreneurship Reporter, Don’t Be an Entrepreneur

So here’s the rule of thumb for entrepreneurship and business reporters out there: Don’t be the person you want to interview and write about. In other words, don’t be an entrepreneur or business person. This piece of advice sounds a little bit counter-intuitive as I thought it’d be much easier to understand the subject matters by being in their shoes, seeing things the way these people do so I can write better about them and their companies.

It turns out I’m wrong…

Reporters need to stay away from being an entrepreneur themselves. They can’t be a top-notch reporter and a great entrepreneur at the very same time. They have to relinquish one of the two.

That’s probably the gist of Sarah Lacy’s statements. The founder of media company Pando.com was asked whether being an entrepreneur herself changed her way of writing as a tech reporter. As we all know, Lacy has worked for almost 15 years writing about the tech industry, the people and the whole dynamics in it. She answered it bluntly,”I’m a way worse reporter now…”

Asking hard questions to other entrepreneurs as an entrepreneur cum reporter is relatively easy, claimed Lacy. Yet, she stated that what bothered her to do her best job she always wanted is the OVEREMPATHY on the answers. “So particularly when it comes to things I’ve gone through…like having the ousted board member (she might be reminded of Mike Arrington ousted from TechCrunch or?) or even like a cash crunch or hiring a sales guy that didn’t work out[…]”

She further said she didn’t write as much as she used to and she felt for these pitiful entrepreneurs. “Because I see every side to it and I feel for them,”explained the mother of two.

Thank God, I’m not an entrepreneur because if I have to be one, I would certainly lose my best job ever. And I would never trade being a writer to any job on earth. This is very much the best. At least for now.

Why Entrepreneurs Are Like Poker Players

Jason Calacanis likes poker. Playing poker makes your heart race, as you must make the best decision with so limited information. The same challenge you’ll also find in entrepreneurship.

Indonesian entrepreneurs in some way are like this. They’re clueless on what to do in this emerging market, where things are so
underdeveloped, young and immature.

Entrepreneur Andy Zainexplained two years ago a lot of local companies in Indonesia are started by bootstrapping because there’re very few venture capitalists. Here people often have their side jobs. Indonesian entrepreneurs also have side projects aside from their own startups. So it’s very challenging for them to start up but every chance is still open.

But the downside is Indonesian entrepreneurs lack information, just like poker players. Thus, when it comes to scouring information, they go to international sites and blogs. They still rely much on foreign media such as TechCrunch.com, Pando.com, TheNextWeb.com, etc. They can find the hottest projects in the US or any other parts of the globe.

This lack of information only lets them to copy what is successful in other markets. For instance, when Groupon became hyped, Indonesian entrepreneurs were inclined to copy this success and apply that to the domestic market. The results are various level of success.

{image credit: Commons.Wikimedia.org}

The Roadmap to Writing Like an Expert

Anyone can write. Your 4-year-old child can write simple sentences on the wall of his bedroom. Your nephew writes an essay on how more civilized and developed this country can be without Trans TV airing Raffi Ahmad’s live update of the wedding ceremony. Your teenage neighbor writes rants on Twitter every minute of his waking hours. And your 76-year-old grand father writes replies to your BBM messages on his smartphone.

Not everyone, however, writes and gets the acknowledgment as an expert and gets paid with a hefty sum of money.

Jason Calacanis – an Internet entrepreneur cum blogger – spills his tricks on how to approach writing and blogging so people will know you as an expert. Here’s the roadmap.

Pick a subject you’re most passionate about.

Spend one hour a day writing about it on a blog called “your first name + the topic” or “the topic + your first name”. For instance, “yoga akhlis” (or “yogakhlis”, like I’ve invented in my Instagram hashtag for my yoga photos). So I have to write about yoga every day for an hour (or more, if I want to speed up the process).

And then write about other people writing about it. This makes you more connected and relevant to the world, or at the very least to people around you.

Don’t forget to link to these people whose writing you praise, criticize or review. Let them know you have your own opinions on their thoughts. Of course, you may add or negate or improve what s/he wrote. Be yourself when you write.

After that, write comments around the web as the name of your blog (in my case, it is yogakhlis). And then after you have a year of your work, you may bring that to people who want to write about that certain topic (in my case, it’s yoga), and you’ll be likely to get more access. Because you have brain and have more knowledge on the subject like an expert (but by this point, definitely you’ve become one, if you really really write it on your own, not paraphrasing or quoting others’ thoughts only).

Now, you’re likely to get into writing and get a writing job because you manage to differentiate yourself from everybody else!

Calacanis added,”If you’re really good at what you do, they cannot stop you!” If you have performance with so refined skills after years of practicing and mean into it, you’re bound to be successful.

In journalism, said Calacanis, some people write so well and they practice it over and over again and they write some long-form pieces. You should keep on writing, regardless of anything. Only you can stop yourself, he firmly stated.

{source: A Fireside Chat by Sarah Lacy with Jason Calacanis /image credit: YouTube screenshot }

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