I've known Jill Hurst-Wahl for close to 6 years now, as she's one of the first people I directly met when I started trying to meet more people in the Syracuse area. The funny part about this story is that she knew my dad for much longer, having ridden on the bus with him into downtown Rochester for years when each used to do park and ride. I didn't learn that until the day after my dad passed away, when I found her email address in his address book; talk about small worlds.

1. What is Hurst Associates?

Hurst Associates, Ltd. works with organizations to make them and their content accessible to the world. Many of the organizations I work with are cultural heritage organizations (e.g., libraries, museums, and archives), but I also work with for-profit organizations. For some, I help them plan and implement projects to digitize their materials for wider access, often on the Internet. With others, I help them implement social networking tools so they -- and their organizations -- are interacting more with their colleagues and users.

2. What made you decide to go into this business?

I decided to start my own business in 1998, after working in corporations for nearly 15 years. I wanted the challenge of working for myself and the ability to work on projects that interested me.

3. What types of challenges have you had along the way?

My ongoing challenge is marketing. Since the projects I work on are not projects that occur every day in an organization, how do I position myself so I come to mine when the need arises? Early in my business, I wrote articles for industry publications as well as book. More recently, I have used blogs and social networking tools to create name recognition in the information industry. Having name recognition has made marketing easier, but has not eliminated the need to do marketing. Marketing will always be a challenge.

4. Have the positives outweighed the negatives, and if so, how?

Yes, the positives have dramatically outweighed the negatives. My business has given me the income, flexibility and recognition that I need. It has open doors for me that I could not have opened as an employee in another business.

5. What would you recommend for anyone looking to go into business for themselves?

1. Talk to people who are already in business for themselves and ask them what they know now that they wish they had known when they started their business.

2. Read "The E-Myth Revisited" as well as 1 - 2 other books geared towards start-ups (especially any book written for your industry). I read this book before I started my business -- "Startup: An entrepreneur's guide to launching and managing a new venture" by William Stolze and it inspired me.

3. Review your finances in order to know how long you'll be financial sound while you build your business. Keep in mind that some businesses are not profitable immediately.

4. Find a group -- in person or online -- of similarly focused people that you can network with. Find a group that can be supportive of your efforts.

5. Plan....and then work your plan.